Friday, December 30, 2005

Puppy love

Thanks to Val, my sister-in-law, here are the pictures I promised on December 26th. Meet Blinky: the proud Dad. He is catching a few z-z-z's on his pillow. Val describes him as a meek, mild and easy going fellow. He sure does look cute. He is a pure bred Bichon Frises.
Please meet Terri: new Mom. Seen here with her first puppy. Val says that she was, at first, a little overwhelmed by Motherhood - what new Mom isn't? She looked to Val for support and soon was reassured. She is now a very devoted Mom. Only leaving her litter for brief periods. Terri is a pure bred Shih Tzu. ...and need I add very cute.
"All noses and tails". So adorable! Two puppies are black and white and two puppies are grayish and white. Val says that she thinks two puppies are male and two are female. Though she cautions that it is a little early to tell for sure. One thing I have no trouble in recognizing is how very very cute they are.

Val is raising these puppies for sale so if you are interested in sharing your life with an adorable puppy please email:

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Two sharp sticks

All the magic begins with the sticks. Ask a group of knitters which type of stick they prefer and you will no doubt receive a variety of answers. Circular Needle: Legendary knitter Elizabeth Zimmerman popularized it. Many knitters would work with no other. To get the circle out, run your hand up and down the length of it several times. For more on circular needles:
I used a circular needle to knit the neck on "When the Meadowlark sings".
Double-pointed needles: Many knitters use a set to knit mittens and socks. I use two to knit I-cord. I have taught you this technique in December 6th post.

I used two double-pointed needles to knit the streamers on "Islandia".

My weapon of choose is the straight needle.

I have even worked out a method to work in the round on two straight needles. I promise I will share this technique with you in future posts.

Knitting needles are made of four materials: metal, plastic, wood and bamboo. I was taught to knit with a pair of plastic needles. I have knit with them for several years. They are light weight and yarn slips of the needle easily. However, I find sometimes the end pops off the top. As well over time, the needle bends.

You can't bend metal needles but they are hard on your hands.

Wood needles are warm to the touch but can give you splitters. Sometimes the size of the needle can be hard to see. Check the size using your gauge checker. (More on gauge checkers in future posts.)

Bamboo needles are expensive but very fine. I have a pair of Lantern Moon's which I will never part with.

Making my own needles is something that has always intrigued me. I had a pair made for me. However, the combination of baby yarn (which is the only yarn I had on hand) and these particular needles was not good. The yarn got stuck on the needles never to come off. I had to throw the needles and yarn out. Now I would use them with homespun yarn for much better results.

I once meet a guy who had made a pair of knitting needles from two broom handles. He used his needles to knit a log carrier.

If you would like to make a pair of knitting needles, here is a helpful site:

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Too soon a widow

Have you heard the expression: "Hockey widow"? It describes someone who must live on once their partner has been devoured by the game on ice. Such a fate has befallen me.

The guys came early this morning.

I don't know anyone who can pack faster than my hubby. Forced to do so, I would pack six pairs of socks, a book, my knitting, and then my brain would shut down.

I remember leaving the island with one knitting needle ferry ride over was murder. Once there I was able to sniff out the closest yarn shop. Hubby knows that knitting keeps me sane so it was not hard to persuade him to venture forth into the yarn. A yarn shop is a rich paradise. After I filled my senses and opened my wallet, I left satisfied.

What will I do while hubby does this...

(hubby is in the white socks

with one red stripe .)

A bit of this...

followed by some of this...
and this...
and of course this...

I will have fun. I hope you do too.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day

Boxing Day:

Christmas is a wild ride. There is the rush to make everything happen: presents, gatherings, household tasks. Then there is the excitement as it happens. Then there is the crash once everything has happened.

As a pre-teen & teen-ager, I would always ask for a craft kit or book so I would be engaged in something new and exciting when the crash came. The crash always came. The crash still comes. I now have a new strategy: I phone my brothers. Nice men - you should meet them. It is good to touch base and catch-up with all the news. They are three provinces away still living in Manitoba. My oldest brother reports that there has been multi-births in the family. I have been promised pictures and will share them with you.

Boxing day is my day to re-group. It is my "mental health day".

I know that not everyone feels this way. Some rejoice that everything has returned to "normal".

Can you guess my knitting related gift from dear hubby...

Did you guess correctly?
I am complying rather a fine knitting library. So far no more than ten books... but it is the quality not the quantity that counts.

I hope that you have a fun, sun-filled day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Report from the Yule log

This is a long hold on to your hat.
Recently I learnt something interesting about blogs: sometimes you write posts for others and sometimes for yourself. December 23rd's, although it took me a while to realize, was all for me. I wallowed in self pity and grew from it. I realized that I can't live in reverse. In life, you have to go straight ahead. So that's what I've been attempting to do since then.
December 24th, 2005
Hubby spends a large portion of his life on ferries ...and to face facts...he's not wild about it. However, he knew I wanted to see my relatives on Salt Spring Island and so he tried. Oh my gosh he tried. We got to the ferry twenty minutes early. We boarded the ferry like nice little ferry passengers.
(Okay, so, the ferry was moving)
The ferry was late pulling into dock. No problem, we can make the connection. We can make the connection? We re-read the ferry schedule. There is no connecting ferry at 1:30 pm - the connecting ferry left at 1:00 pm. Huh? We phone said relatives and report the sad tale. Said relatives are disappointed the meal was lovingly cooked and baked and waits for us in vain. Hubby suggests we replace a home-cooked meal made by talented cooks with sandwiches from Subway: two meals you don't get around our place. So we do. We sit in the ferry terminal and fill our sad, disappointed faces. Hubby suggests we top our meal with Roger's chocolate - I love this man. So we do. Sliding up to the counter I am greeted with, "Aren't you Olavia? I love your patterns. Especially your baby sweaters. They are so cute!" What a rush. Turns out she works part-time at Patricia's Yarn Cabin in Sidney. So floating on cloud 9 I board the ferry. On the ferry I meet the cutest two year old (an estimate) girl. "knit-TIN'" she calls out each time she runs past with parent in pursuit. Obviously a future frogger, I reason. I make a mental note to make finger puppets to store in my purse for these occasions. We finally dock at home-base. We rush home. I quickly prepare supper so we can see the tree.

(Pretty neat special effect photography, eh?

Want to learn my technique?

Mix excitement with nervous energy and throw in shyness.)

Each year on Mayne Island we have a community Christmas tree and bonfire. It is a chance to meet and greet fellow islanders. We bask in the heart of island fellowship. Too soon it is over. I say too soon because it started at 6pm - we got there half an hour late. What I keep forgetting each year is that there is free food served at a local hot spot. Much better food than anything I could prepare may I add. Yeah, he knew my skills before he married me. "For better or worse." My meals are improving. However, I'm a vegetarian he likes meat - need I say more. Hubby busies himself wrapping presents when we get home. He walks into my studio with a huge smile across his face, "Do you want to open one present early?" He queries. Has he read December 23rd's post? "Yes!" is my reply. He hands me one gift from the huge and heavy bag he carries. Carefully oh so carefully I unwrap it BINGO! more chocolate. Now there is only an hour until he faces his final test - church. I go to church. (I may add I go to church not because I have all the answers but rather because I need help finding some ... maybe I don't need to add that.) He doesn't. However, two times during the year - Remembrance Day and Christmas Eve - he makes a concession. He sings the hymns and listens to the sermon. I sit close. He is my family. So from me and my family to you and yours "Happy Holidays!"


Kwanzaa: December 26th to January 1st

Chanukkah: December 25th to January 1st

Christmas: December 25th

Ukraine Christmas: December 25th or January 7th

Boxing Day: December 26th More on this in tomorrow's post.

(This is as close to a white Christmas

as Mother nature could give us on Mayne Island.

...and as I write the sun has just peeked through the clouds.

Yet another Spring day on the beautiful isle of Mayne.)

Thank you for reading this long post.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Happy Holidays!
Look for a groovy post tomorrow.
Oh you lucky lucky people.

Hubby took that amazing picture. Pretty cool, eh.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas is... IMHO

Growing up in the heart of a large extended family meant that Christmas was an event. Festivities began on December 24th. Mom or one of her sisters hosted the event. This gathering grew out of a need expressed by the patriarch and matriarch. So on the appointed day during the appointed hours the appointed house was packed to the roof-top with people, food and presents. We kids thrilled at the opportunity to open one present early and to party way past our usual bedtimes. Years have passed... relatives decreased and increased... I have moved away but Christmas Eve festivities have remained. Each and every year those who can pile on the clothes and brave the winter cold to be enveloped by family warmth. It is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual warmth that knows no end. ...and I miss it.

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." -Janis Joplin

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Let's talk holiday knitting solutions

It is December 22nd.
There are only three days left to the deadline.
You may have more knitting than time.
...but in the words of Douglas Adams: "DON'T PANIC!!!"

Situation: Giving hand knitted socks.
Problem: Only one sock done.
Solution: Wrap that sock with a note that reads:
A)"Other sock hidden. Find it if you can."
B)"Other sock to be finished soon."
Situation: Giving a hand knit item to a fellow knitter who has the same tension as you do.
Problem: Item is half done.
Solution: Wrap item, yarn, and needles.
Situation: Giving a hand knit item to a new knitter.
Problem: You bought the pattern, yarn, and needles. No actual knitting has begun.
Solution: Wrap item, yarn, and needles along with a note. The note reads: "This gift comes with free knitting lessons."
Situation: Giving a hand knit item.
Problem: You have yet to buy the yarn and needles. No actual knitting has begun.
Solution: Wrap the pattern in an envelop and decorate with Christmas stickers. Tuck in a note which reads: "This will soon be yours. Come yarn shopping with me. (Give selection of dates) Shopping to be followed by tea and baking at your favourite restaurant.
Main thing: Relax. Kick back. Grab your needles. Remember: life is to enjoy.
Note: Sorry that I was so late posting this. You see the little wire which links Mayne Island to the rest of the world fell victim to mighty Mother Nature. She blew and she blew and she blew it away. What did I do: I relaxed. Kicked back. Grabbed my needles. And remembered: life is to enjoy. ( ...don't ask my hubby.) The good news about the weather is that it is very warm. By that I mean, think Spring not Summer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy solstice

Much like a potted plant, I crave sunlight. Lately, our lazy old sun has been setting earlier and earlier. I hide in my house seeking comfort by artificial means. This lack of sun leaves me feeling listless, lazy, and moody. I feel as my ancestors did: all is lost without the sun.

Latin speakers labeled today as solstice - meaning "sun standing still". After today the sun will slowly but surely return. Pagans marked this date by partying all night long. They wished to be awake to welcome Baal. They erected structures such as Stonehedge and Newgrange to pay homage - to mark the cycles of the sun.

I too will be paying homage by the sweat of my brow. As a knitter, I have chosen to erect my shrine from yarn.

This yarn seems to have caught the sun. It glitters, it shines, it glows. I have chosen mine why don't you choose yours. Bring out your sunny yarns and lets knit.

A Solstice Chant

We are the power in everyone

We are the dance of the moon and sun

We are the hope that will never hide

We are the turning of the tide.

This chant was performed at a Jaiya solstice concert which I attended last year. Please check out this talented Mayne Island group: I am a huge fan.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why learn to knit

I'd like to teach the world to
I'd like to teach the world to knit,
In perfect purl and plain,
I'd like to teach the world to knit,
So you'll never go in sane.
'Cause the world today,
Is full of stress,
So cast on now,
I'll lend you a hand,
And we'll knit our worries away.
Reasons to knit are as many and varied as knitters themselves.
Here are but a few:
-In a world dominated by cold steel walking into a yarn shop is a treat for your senses - very seductive.
-Running contrary to our high-tech. time-stressed lives knitting gives you a reason to slow down.
-Knitting reveals the knitter's individuality while they develop their creativity.
-Knitted items make a thoughtful unique gift that show you were really thinking of the recipient.
-Is your back longer than most? Is one of your arms shorter than the other? Every body is unique. Are you frustrated that sweaters never seem to fit. Knit your own - the prefect solution.
-Do you smoke? Do you want to stop? Keep your hands busy by knitting.
-Is the workday commute getting to you? Pick up knitting and you won't simply entertain yourself but also those around you.
-Knitting will develop your self-esteem. One simple phrase: "What a beautiful sweater."
-Do you want to challenge yourself and watch your skills develop - knit.
-Knitting is portable. You can take it anywhere: hockey games, the beach, to meetings, out camping, anywhere.
-Knitting crosses the generation gap: I learnt to knit from my Grandma: sixty years my senior.
-Knitting improves your fine motor skills.
-Do you suffer from stiff hand joints? Many Doctor's recommend knitting.
-Ensure that an ancient craft survives: knit.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Teach yourself to knit

No knitters in your life? No potential knitting instructors? What to do? What to do? Is the wonderful world of yarn lost to you?

Take heart my friend the answer is "no".

There are many fine resources.

Feeling a little flush. Surf on over to The Needle Arts Book Shop ( This is where I come to dream. This site is designed to please. You can look for books by subject, title or author. This is what I found:
Art of Knitting - DVD
$31.95 CDN/ $25.95 US
"on-screen knitting demos, information about yarns, colour theory, and how to connect to knitting resources"
Teach Yourself Visually Knitting & Crocheting
$32.95 CDN/ $24.95 US
"If you learn best by following illustrations and pictures, here's a great book to teach you how to knit and crochet."

Or how about an excellent free resource:
Log on to their basic technique section to learn either continental or English style knitting.
Log on to their forum section to discuss problems or solutions you have encountered.

Learning knitting from a book, DVD or online resource is not the easiest method. No one is looking over your shoulder. It rests on you to spot any problems and to interrupt the solution. Despite this it does have it's benefits. You develop self-reliance. You also save face as you make those first mistakes away from prying eyes. Not only that but you could even "discover" "new" techniques. Remember its not an error if you can do it the second time on purpose.

Welcome to the wild world of knitting.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Please, Santa

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Knitting Resource

Cathy, an island neighbour, recently paid a visit. Some time ago she had purchased the '40 below' knitting kit. 40 below
She wished to show me the Christmas knitting she had completed. She had completed two in a relatively short period of time. I was impressed by her beautiful work.

Cathy in her 40 below hat

While she was here, I shared my plans for this blog. It will remain a strange blend of fiction: non-fiction, knit-lit: non-knit-lit. My plans for the non-fiction knit-lit part is to create a resource for those new or returning to the craft. I will guide you from selecting your knitting instructor to sewing your seams. I asked Cathy to help. I would like you to help too. So if you have knitting questions, concerns, or solutions please send them to: Thank you.

Selecting a knitting instructor:

Simply because a knitter is competent in the craft does not mean they will make a good instructor. Look for someone who has patience, a sense of fun, whose personality you enjoy, and who you can arrange to see often. You can find potential instructors at your local yarn shop or knitting group (guild or circle). Please remember that you are honouring your instructor by choosing them. Once the basics - cast on, cast off/bind off, knit, and purl - are firmly entrenched I hope you will turn here for solutions. Happy knitting.

Teach two to knit and you ensure knitting's survival.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Before and After

Before I started this blog, I would attack my hubby saying, "Listen to what I just wrote...isn't it amazing?...isn't wonderful?" He sat there with a pained expression on his face. He had tried to say "No!" but his protests had fallen on deaf ears. He had tried to escape but I cornered him - easy prey.

After I started this blog, I receive wonderful comments like this: "I thought I'd write to say how much fun I had reading your blog." - K. Eubanks When I shared this email with hubby you should have seen the joy which filled his face. Freedom, sweet, freedom. So I thank hubby thanks you...please keep reading.
I have gone to great lengths to attempt to improve my writing. I have even started a writing group on the island. Thankfully, all members had far more talent than I and so I have improved. However, currently we are taking a break. They left me saying, "keep writing." Hopefully we will re-assemble in the new year. So, you see, I need you. You are my reason to keep writing.

Blogs: a great excuse to delay cleaning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Collar and cuffs

It is possible, in this season of friends, family and co-worker gatherings, to suffer from wardrobe burn-out: gatherings seriously out-numbering ones outfits. If this scenerio is familiar to you I have the solution.

Collar & Cuffs
(Please contact for order information, thank you)
If you can cast on and off, knit and purl then you can make this stylish combo.
How fast can you have it? Well, if you:

pay by PayPal
have the pattern sent to you by email
have the prefect yarn in your stash
Then you can be wearing it to that party next week-end. Or this week-end... how fast can you knit?
Knit a set for a friend - makes a stylish gift.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


When I was younger I couldn't wait to kick over the traces to my small community. It was way too small for my dreams. I was headed to the city. There were no fears in my heart only dreams of an exciting life. Winnipeg did not disappoint. It was there that I attended university, meet my hubby and had many great adventures.

When I moved from Winnipeg (population 702,396) to Greater Vancouver (population 2,132,800) I was charmed by its beauty and overwhelmed by its size. "Where the streets safe?" "What would I do if something happened?" These questions meant many sleepless nights. In an attempt to regain bliss I signed up for a woman's self-defense course. The class was great: run by a capable and caring instructor. The class culminated with the ultimate challenge: break a board with your hand. If I could do this nothing could stop me. If I couldn't do this I would surely break my hand. With the instructor's affirmations ringing in my ears I pulled my hand back. Down I swung. To my surprise, the board broke and my hand didn't. Several years later I still have that board.
'This technique, which translates as 'Women's Path of Strength' was developed in Toronto, Canada in 1973 by the Page family.'
Quoted from On the path of strength by Laxmi Murthy

It is known as 'Wenlido' in western Canada and as 'Wendo' in eastern Canada. Why? It beats me. For more info please check out this great site:

Arm yourself against your fears.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Fashion Inspires

I enjoy shopping, talking, and designing fashion. I especially enjoy hunting for bargains. On Mayne Island we have two dress shops. So my "hunting" is a rare treat. Thankfully recently, while I was on the mainland, I went to the mall. Sales were in abundance. Amazing sales on everything. A walk through the mall revealed the influence the Ballywood and Victorian romance trends are having. I saw the Ballywood influence on beautiful jewelry: a pair of earrings called out to me. Then I saw the most beautiful skirt: velvet and trimmed with lace. Irresistible!

As you can see, the skirt called out for this yarn. A sketch has already been drawn and I will start knitting as soon as I am finished some Christmas surprises. Wish me luck.

Talking about inspiration, check out this Harry Potter inspired sweater by Shawn Morris:

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A day late - a dollar short

I am excited to tell you of my latest adventure. This tale begins as many do at the beginning.
Here I am at the Mayne Island ferry terminal waiting to begin my journey. I am usually apprehensive when I travel by myself. I like the idea of travel. However, the reality of travel is something else. It is hard for me to leave the security of my island nest to venture forth into the wilds of city life. Hubby had taken the early ferry. He works two days a week on the mainland. He will be there to meet me on the other side.
'Flavours of Vancouver' the reason for my travel. Partial proceeds from its sale are going to Save the Children Canada. Their work helps children in need from Canada and around the world.
I am so excited to see this sign. Hubby and I barely slept last night. We have woken at 4 am. Arriving at 5:30 am, we are among the first arrivals. I have never been behind the scenes of a radio program. Let alone an invited guest. ...and CBC radio has been a family tradition. Need I say more.
Yes, indeed, I am on radio. I am thrilled. The interview lasts no more than five minutes but BC has heard me. Everyone bends over backwards to make me feel at home. I am a proud devoted CBC listener. (From left to right Rick Cluff, me, Margaret Gallagher).
...and my adventure ends. This is the Delta cargo port as viewed as we make our way to the ferry which will take us home to Mayne Island. It was a special trip in many ways: hubby's work Christmas party, shopping, and mainland culture.

Travel outside your comfort zone - the rewards are worth it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Knitting I-cord

Finally, I finished it. ...just in time. Here is a peek....
Yes, that is rather a large neck. No that is not a mistake. I designed it that way. Wait until you see it on. It looks marvelous, darling. And remember they laughed at the cowl neck. : )
Knitting I-cord is one of my favourite knitting techniques. So it is not surprising that I used it for this sweater as well. Once you learn how to make the cord you will search for reason to make more. Trust me. Last year I taught someone how to knit I-cord and they made a I-cord rug. So see you have to learn.
You need two double pointed needles and a small amount of yarn.

Cast on three to six stitches. I used three stitches. The more stitches you use the thicker your cord will be.

Bring the yarn forward.

With right side facing you, *knit to the end of the row. Keep the right side of your work facing you, slide the stitches to the opposite end of the needle.* Repeat from * to *.

This will begin to create a tube. The picture is of the right side of the I-cord.

This is what the wrong side looks like. You will have what appears to be little ladders. Eliminate these by maintaining tension. I maintain tension by pulling the yarn end.

...and drum roll please this is what you will end up with: I-cord.

Learn from my mistake: I cast off and merrily began to sew on the I-cord. I thought I had enough cord. The key word being: thought. Well I ran out and had to make more and piece it together. I have assured myself that you can't tell. What I should have done is leave the stitches on the needle and begin to sew on the cord. Once it is obvious that there is sufficient cord then and only then cast off.

Here is a cool site I found on knitting I-cord:

Well got to run another sweater calls.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Knitting for charities

Knitting for charities is a tradition dating back to the Spanish American war (1898) when knitters knit for mariners: mariners who were away at sea during Christmas. Reports the Seaman's church organization ( ) which has continued this tradition.
Of course charity knitting could date further back than 1898 - whose to know.

Googling "knitting for charities" resulted in 520,000 sites. Here is a very brief list:

Hugs for Homeless Animals

Warm up America!
2500 Lowell Rd
Gastonia, NC

Blankets for Canada
214-905-1 Avenue South
Suite 217
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
T1J 4M7

Project Linus
"It is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need."
PO Box 5621
Bloomington, IL
Project Linus reports that they donated 1,347,961 blankets in ten years.

There are many fine state/province-wide charities. Unfortunately, space limitations prevent me from listing them here. If you would like a lengthier list here are two sites which have extensive lists:
Both of these lists focus on American charities.

Be forewarned, charities vary with the amount of work they expect from their volunteers. Some national charities may expect their volunteers to do paper work.

When you are selecting charities don't forget to look in your own backyard. What groups or individuals would benefit from your stitches?

Ask: your friends, coworkers, and family members
local hospitals, doctor's office or public health nurse
shetlers, transition houses, hospice
local nursing homes, day care centers
police stations (officer), victim assistance programs
places of worship, food distribution centres
your local governmental officials

It has been my experience that once word spreads that you are knitting for charities acquiring yarn is not an issue. If you are having trouble locating yarn supplies recruit your local yarn store, thrift shops or post an advertisement in your local paper.

When selecting yarn for charity knitting it is important to bear in mind durability and ease of care. As well, when knitting for babies select a soft yarn.
Once your item is ready to donate, attach a tag stating the fiber content and care instructions.

Currently, the Mayne Island knitting group, Knit Witts, are knitting for

The Capital Mental Health Association which distribute gifts to their clients. Many of their clients may only receive this gift for Christmas.

Our group is also knitting for White Gift Sunday. Gifts collected on this day are distributed to island families who are in need.

This year I was too bogged down with other commitments as a results my charity knitting suffered. I was only able to donate one small bag (a few hats and some scarves). Next year I hope to knit at least one item for charity per month. I will let you know how this goes.

Knit on!