An August Afternoon on Amherst Island

Earlier this summer, my friend – my Knitting BFF – Victoria, moved away to a community about 2 hours east. I have had many fun knitting and non-knitting adventures with her – Knitter’s Frolics, COUNTLESS trips to local yarn shops where we both left with far less money in our wallets, and just random evenings spent knitting in her living room or on FaceTime in the height of the pandemic. I knew I was going to miss her well before the move. It really sunk in a few days after she left when I needed a certain needle size and I could no longer just drive around the corner to her house to borrow what I needed.

Well, it’s a good thing I like long drives and podcasts. In mid-August, while I was on holidays from work, I went for a day trip, and she and I spent the afternoon exploring Amherst Island.

Located about three kilometres offshore, in Lake Ontario, this island is noted for its dry stone walls, boasting what is believed to be the largest known concentration of historic Irish dry stone walls in Canada, many of which date to at least 160 years old.

Amherst Island is also home to Topsy Farms, the raison d’ĂȘtre for our trip. Established in 1972 by “free-thinking, peace-loving hippies,” their wool products are 100% Canadian, and the sheep in their care are “happy sheep.”

To get to Amherst Island, we hopped on the ferry and drove across the island, remarking on the dry stone walls and interesting houses we saw along the way. Victoria and I are both museum nerds (and proud of it), so when we arrived at the farm, our attention was equally captured by the farmlands and the ‘Wool-Shed’ shop, and also the cemetery we spied on the other side of the dry stone wall.

The shop was modest, but the product easily captured our interest! Victoria left with a few skeins of fingering weight yarn and a t-shirt, while three skeins of worsted weight yarn came home with me. I mean, look at this colour!

I also have to give a shout out to the person working the shop. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the island, happenings, the yarn, and the farm. We asked her opinion on what else we could do while on the island, and she gave us the recommended driving routes and a beach recommendation.

We finished off our afternoon by checking out the Neilson Store Museum (as aforementioned, we’re museum nerds), and, once we realized we missed the hourly ferry, grabbed some food at the Back Kitchen.

I have three skeins of that lovely teal Topsy yarn, and I also have a dilemma of what to make with it. Three isn’t quite enough to make a sweater with, but I’m sure I can find some contrast yarn, like Briggs and Little, which might make it work. Worst case, if I needed more and placed an online order, I’m sure I could bat my eyes at Victoria to pick it up for me! For now, these teal skeins will stay in my stash, waiting for the right project to come along.

On making something cozy for my BFF

Find yourself an Ashley.

Ashley is my best friend. We’ve known each other for a stupid amount of time. The fact that we’ve known each other for more than 20 years is absolutely mind boggling, because that means we’re not in our 20s anymore, and I totally feel like I’m only 23. Wait, what was I saying? Oh, right.

Ashley and I had homeroom together in Grade 9 & 10, but we didn’t talk. I was a little intimidated by her, and, according to her, I would sit there and talk with my friend about the Backstreet Boys (and yeah, that’s 100% accurate). Then grade 11 came around and we had three of four classes together, including drama. That year’s big project was writing and performing a ‘docudrama’ and we were partnered together. I think I have the script somewhere in storage to this day. We’ve been friends ever since.

Last spring, due to unforeseen circumstances, I found myself at my parent’s house for a week, and at first I was there without access to knitting needles or yarn. She didn’t hesitate to run over to my parent’s with a few supplies for me, including balls of yarn and needles.

She truly is the best.

Knowing the yarn was Briggs and Little, I feel it’s safe to assume she bought it from the mill in New Brunswick. Her family lives nearby to the community where Canada’s oldest woolen mill is located, and I’m pretty sure the yarn came from the store at the mill. After I was back home, I asked if she would like the yarn back, and she told me to hold onto it.

So I did.

And I made her something.

A few months back, I professed my love for marled yarn as I made my nephew just the cutest little clothing set using a sock weight marled yarn. I took a look at my stash and realized that the yarn from her was two skeins – one marled and one white. I wanted to knit her something cozy. Warm, perhaps a little scratchy, and cozy. 

The pattern is The Fisherman’s Boot Socks by Maritime Family Fiber. I followed the instructions for the smallest size, but my needles were 4.5mm, not 4mm, so I was ultimately making something a little bigger than the pattern called for. They were worked on and off for about six months. But they were finished while the Canadian winters were still bringing about the cold, like they always do. Because toes get cold, and sometimes a thick wool sock is the coziness you need to help stave off the chill.

So, if you can, find yourself an Ashley. Ashleys are good people. Ashleys know how to hook a friend up, and Ashleys totally deserve warm socks.

I adore this human. From 2018, when concerts were a thing…

Reasons Why I’m Not Knitting

Reason #1 – THIS GUY.

Well, I suppose the list could just be explained by my dashing dog. He is the reason knitting is becoming a challenge.

BUT, really, when he curls up onto your lap to take a nap, what monster would dare try to move him because it would make knitting easier, or because you’ve left your project on the other side of the room. Not me. My lap was the chosen lap. Knitting can wait while he takes a rest.

Reason #2 – Again, this guy. Despite toys everywhere, he’s been gravitating towards stealing balls of yarn. Balls of yarn that then get tangled and need re-winding. And that takes time. And patience.

Those two pictures of the same ball of yarn – tangled on TWO different occasions…

So, yeah. The big reasons why my knitting is, at times, stalling, is because of my dog. He’s worth it though.

A DASHing Dog Sweater

Meet Dash.

I’m biased, of course, but I happen to think my new puppy is, perhaps, one of the cutest puppies I have ever seen. We were smitten with each other right from the get-go, and our three weeks together, so far, have been amazing. Lots of cuddles, lots of trying to set a routine, lots of training, and lots of getting to know each other.

One habit I had to try and stop early was Dash’s thinking that my yarns in my stash were play toys. They are not. He does like soft and squishy toys, so any time he went for the yarn, I did my best to redirect to a more appropriate dog toy.

That said, when he went for the ball of yarn I bought to make him a sweater with, I had to take a picture before removing the yarn from his mouth. He looked hilarious, and that moment needed to be captured. It’s good to know that green does seem to be his colour!

My grandparent’s Jack Russell, Copper, wearing the first Hoodie Dog Coat I made

The sweater I’m making him is a pattern I’ve made twice before:
Hoodie Dog Coat
 (RAV LINK) by Bernat Design Studio. Now, the pattern… it’s not great… I don’t know why I’ve made it three times now… It’s not well written, and I seriously question the sizing. For example, I made a coat for my brother’s French Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix, and to accommodate for her solid, barrel chest, I made the size large. LARGE. She’s a sturdy dog, but she is certainly not a large breed. Even the sweater I’m making for Dash – it’s a size Medium, and he weighs about 13 pounds… I’ve tried it on him, and I’m nervous about the placements for the leg holes.

And yet, I keep opting to make this sweater! Why?

The first time I made it, I followed the pattern pretty exactly.

The second time, along the back, I made a series of Yarn Over holes to have the harness loop go through.

This time, for Dash, I knew I wanted something that would go over his harness, so rather than the small YOs, I did a two row button hole over six stitches, and I positioned it at the same point that you start shaping the leg holes. This seems to have been the perfect placement for it.

Even though I’m doubting the fit with his wide set legs, I’m going to trust the process with the poorly written pattern and see it to the finish. If it’s not the right fit, there’s always time to take a visit to the FROG pond, rip it out and start again…

A fresh coat of paint

A few days ago on Twitter, I saw a tweet asking what’s one thing in your house that immediately puts a smile on your face, and in response, someone else tweeted: A hand painted piece of furniture.

I couldn’t agree more.

One of my favourite furniture pieces is a a wooden shelf from an old exhibition at the Museum – the exhibit came down, and I was lucky enough to be able to take it home, and a portion of my yarn stash lives there. I added a simple top with a piece of scrap wood, which I THINK was left over from my Grandpa, random wood left in a pile in my parent’s basement. After sitting in the same spot in my house for over five years, I wanted to give it a facelift.

It is such a simple but very functional piece. But I was ready for a change.

So all the yarn got dumped out…

And then I got painting.

The body is a simple black (although the drying paint makes it look grey), and I wanted the body to be a simple colour to let the yarn be the focus. I did, however, have fun with the top, painting it an oh-so-me teal.

When it was all said and done,

This just makes me smile every time I see it. A little bit of paint for a lot of happiness.