A lesson in contrasts

I’m going to give you a sneak peek at a new pattern I’ve been working on for a while. The pattern started out with a pair of stranded mittens with a palm-like motif that I adapted from an Art Deco bracelet. I’m calling them Frond Mittens.

The next step was to create a matching hat pattern. After a little math and futzing around, that worked out well. I knit up my samples (a beanie + a slouchy version) and friends have been diligently working on test knits for me. My friend Louise knit up the Frond Hat.

Louise loves stranded knitting and she also loves including a yarn with multiple colours in it. This time she selected some Alegria (from Manos) in lovely autumnal colours. She paired it up with a solid grey yarn. I had a fear that the contrast wouldn’t allow the pattern to shine. Despite misgivings, Louise persisted and knit the whole hat:

Stranded knitting with low contrast

Then she did it again with the same Alegria and some darker grey yarn. Check out the difference:

It’s almost hard to believe that the same colours are being used here. The pattern stands out and the colourful yarn goes from slightly dull-looking to shining. I wanted to include these pictures as a cautionary tale about choosing yarn for colourwork.

Oh, and by the way, Louise insists on calling the hat & mittens patterns “Hands and Fronds”. I’m trying not to let it drive me up the wall. Pictures of my own knitted samples & the patterns themselves will follow later this week.

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Sunday spinning update: Briar Rose

A few weeks ago I noticed that I had a few bigger lots of fiber (more than just 100g) sitting in the stash and I decided to tackle one. Out came a 6 oz ribbon of reddish-orange BFL from Briar Rose. It’s in perfect fall colours.

I’m aiming for a 3 ply yarn and so I split the fiber into 3 even parts. So far I’ve only finished the first bobbin, but I’m enjoying every minute of it.

1st bobbin of BFL from Briar Rose

I don’t have any pictures of the things from Sam’s pockets, lately. The only thing of note since the beginning of the school year has been the beheaded grasshopper. You’ll have to take my word that a picture would have been a bad plan.

Sam has been doing a lot of activity after he’s supposed to be asleep & I’ve started taking pictures. Last night he apparently had a chess match before wrapping himself up in the black blanket at the top of his bed. I had to look twice before I figured out where he was:

After a late night game of chess, S. rolls himself into his Sens blanket to sleep



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Zipping through the States

I’m still recounting our mega-roadtrip from the summer. After our time in Halifax, we drove down to Yarmouth to get the Nova Star ferry to Portland, Maine.

It was a long day that started with some excitement. We had fantastic weather. Along the way there was a bit of seasickness (my daughter), along with eating, drinking, watching karaoke, and playing Uno. We didn’t do anything in Portland other than find our hotel and finally sleep.

On Board, before seasickness

Ferry ride

We drove on and spent a couple of nights near this lovely stadium, enabling my husband to attend a Patriots practice session.

After another day of driving we arrived in Rochester, NY, to meet up with friends and family.

Grandparents in Rochester

This was also the one stop during the trip that I was able to get to a yarn store. I visited The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop. I navigated to the store by myself in the dark with only written directions (pats self on the back) and had a few minutes to look around. I snapped up some Malabrigo Nube in “my” colours, and found some lovely local yarn from Runaway Bunny to go with it.

Malabrigo Nube and Runaway Bunny sock yarn

And then it was back to Canada. We just nipped across the border in Niagara Falls to spend a fun-filled day here:

Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls

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Halifax Art Deco

I’m still continuing to go through this summer’s vacation pictures. Last time we’d made it to Halifax. I had planned to visit two buildings in downtown Halifax. They happen to be magnificent Art Deco buildings and they’re conveniently close to each other. I managed, one day, to slip away from the family and run around taking pictures for half an hour.

The first building I went to was the Dominion Public Building. For those keeping track, this is the 4th Art Deco DPB I’ve visited (as well as Hamilton, London and Guelph). One of the reasons that this prime real estate was available to build on at the time was because of the devastating Halifax Explosion of 1917.

It’s hard to get a full shot of the “front” of the building (away from the water):

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia

But the back looks pretty from the water:

There are some metal panels that show the various methods used to deliver the mail. Don’t worry, I think the fish are purely decorative.

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mail delivery by boat and plane

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mail delivery by van

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mail delivery by train

I took pictures of a few details inside, but I really liked this light fixture:

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: light fixture

I saved the best for last. Having seen pictures ahead of time taken by my friend Yvonne, I knew that the Bank of Nova Scotia would blow me away. It’s hard to tell from a distance how special this building is.

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle)

It was designed to be the main branch of the bank in Canada. It’s another bank designed by John MacIntosh Lyle (like the smallish one with the owls in Toronto, or the rather imposing Bank of Nova Scotia Toronto HQ). There are plenty of examples of wildlife, including many marine examples:

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): whales

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): seahorses

In the lobby, there are some impressive elevator doors:

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): elevator doors

But then you walk into the main banking hall, and the space and the detail are just overwhelming.

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): Banking Hall

All of those little white figures on the ceilings are animals. The floor is marble, with a fairly restrained pattern, probably because otherwise it would be all too much. The metalwork is amazing too. After securing permission to take pictures, I went around snapping happily. It seemed like doing that made some of the normal everyday customers take another look at the bank they walk into daily. Stunning.

Here’s a close up of just one of the flowers along the edge of the ceiling:

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): ceiling detail

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Quick trip through the Maritimes

I’m still going through my pictures from our summer family holiday mega-roadtrip. Last time I covered up to Fredericton. We drove another day and spent the night in Moncton. Rather than visit the Magnetic Hill, we drove up the coast and spent a wonderful half a day at the dunes in Bouctouche. Sure, it felt a little weird to be enjoying a natural landmark being preserved by an oil company, but it was the perfect day.

It was the kids’ first visit to the ocean and they had so much fun playing in the sand and finding all kinds of shells and seaweed. We couldn’t have had a better day for it.

We finally ended up in Halifax that night and spent a few days visiting with my brother-in-law and his family. We’ve threatened to visit for quite a few years and we finally made it. The kids all had a fun time together. We had a great visit to the Citadel.

Next up I’ll show you the pictures I got when I snuck away for 30 minutes and went off to see some Art Deco buildings.


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Finding my September rhythm

We got back from vacation and it’s taken me a few weeks to ensure we were all set for the kids to return to school and to get back into a rhythm. There are still so many things around the house that we’ve still got to unpack and hang up and there’s never enough time for all the things that I want to do with my knitting!

Now that I’m back and somewhat settled, I’ll show you bits of my vacation. I did manage a bit of knitting on the trip, but that was minimal.

Our first stop was in Québec City. We were staying at Mont Ste. Anne (just a bit east), which turned out to be a fantastic choice. Despite the kids having a day where they didn’t seem to want to walk at all, we got to see a bit of old Québec, like the armoury:

Armoury, Québec City

And we stopped in at the church in Ste. Anne de Beaupré:

Ste. Anne de Beaupré

Mosaic floor in Ste. Anne de Beaupré

What drew my interest were the mosaics just inside the doors. The fountain out front of the church was very very tempting for the children on a hot day. I just turned to snap a few pictures and when I turned back they were both a bit wet. Sam, not for the last time on this trip, managed to get his bum completely drenched.

Our next stop after a long day’s drive was Fredericton. We went downtown for dinner at a pub and I caught a bonus Art Deco building in the fading light. It is the former building of the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission.

former building of the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission, Fredericton, New Brunswick

All of this travel was getting us close to our mid-trip destination of Halifax.

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Sunday spinning update: plying and spinning

We’re back from a rather long  vacation (more on that later) and I’ve finally plied up that merino/silk from before. I chain-plied it to preserve the colours and I’m thrilled with the yarn. It’s about 290 yards in about 100g. This picture doesn’t show the shine that the silk gives this yarn.

Meanwhile, I’ve also spun up another skein of yarn this week. It may have something to do with wanting to relax a bit now that the kids are back in school. This is a Southern Cross Fibre club offering called Beyond Time on Cheviot (a new-to-me sheep breed).  It was an easy spin. I went for a 3 ply. I split the whole braid into 3 parts. The first part was split into two & spun (bobbin on the left). The second third was split into 4 parts (middle bobbin) and the third bobbin was split into 8 parts (right bobbin).

The resulting yarn has colours that change subtly and gradually and doesn’t have too much of one colour all in one place. It’s about 300 yards in 96g. Perfect! Mittens, perhaps?

Next up, I’m looking at working with a little more fibre. I’ve got multiple sets of 200g in one colour, and a giant intimidating bag of 360g of one beautiful colour that I can probably do justice to now. I just need to make a choice.

In family life, yesterday my son requested a chocolate pound cake. Rather than run off to the store, we made one together today and it turned out quite well. I may have to do this again! Also, I love baking with parchment paper. The loaf came right out of the pan.

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Ottawa Art Deco: Substation #4

Months ago on a very cold day I went and took pictures of the old Ottawa Hydro HQ building designed by W.C. Beattie and I talked about a couple of my favourite substations which he also designed.

I recently visited Substation #4 on King Edward to get some pictures of my own. Although if you look at old pictures, you might be sad about some of the alterations, I think it’s still very nice.

And I also took some pictures of some street sculptures that I thought were quite good:

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Saturday spinning update: silk & merino, part two

Busy times. This is a continuation of last week’s spinning. Here’s how the bobbin looked after the third strip of singles:

And here it is all full with all of the initial spinning done.

I enjoyed this so much more than I do spinning either pure silk or pure merino. It’s a wonderful blend. The spinning is done, but I’m still wondering what to do next. Thoughts? Do I go for a 2 ply or do I keep the colours as they are and chain ply?

For your reading enjoyment, here is a list of rules for my daughter’s room. Clearly it is aimed at her brother even though he’d have a lot of trouble reading the rules.

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More downtown Ottawa Art Deco

A few months back I showed you some of the Art Deco architecture near the Museum of Nature. Today I’m going to show you some buildings along Wellington. I’ve seen them before when I’ve been out taking photos of other buildings, like the Supreme Court.

My main target was the old Bank of Montreal at 144 Wellington. Built in 1932, it is now the Sir John A. Macdonald Building. Another web site calls it a mix of Beaux-Arts and Art Deco, but the Deco side of it is clear to me. As you can see, it was still undergoing work when I happened by.

This bank was designed by E.I. Barott, who was also responsible for one of my favourite Art Deco buildings in Montreal: the Aldred Building.

Walking along the road, I had to take a picture at 234 Wellington of the Bank of Canada building. Although it is neoclassical I still find it striking and the scale of the vases out front is amazing. Those things are massive.

Finally, there are the East & West Memorial Buildings, across the street from the Supreme Court of Canada.

The two buildings are joined by the Veterans Memorial Arch.

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