The Year That Was 2014

As the holiday season draws to an end and the new year approaches ever so quickly, all I can think is that 2014 was an amazing year for me, and I have so much to be thankful and grateful for.  So much happened over these 365 days, many ups and a few downs.

The year started with the celebration of my beloved grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary.  Sixty years.  It was an amazing milestone, and I consider myself so very, very lucky to have grandparents who a) have reached this milestone to celebrate, and b) are in good health, and c) love each other every day. My grandparents are genuinely two of my favourite people in this entire world.  Celebrating this milestone was amazing.

Later on in January, I did something, well, adventurous… I thought I would try my hand at roller derby. Side note to this story – I’m klutzy.  Very klutzy.  Long story short, my first night, I fell and spent over 3 hours in emerg and had a pink cast for over 3 weeks.  My illustrious roller derby career was over before it began. The worst part of this was that cast was set in a way that made holding knitting needles near impossible. Desperate to hold yarn, I took up crochet.  Hats off to those who crochet because I cannot stand it.  I was happy to get the cast off and get needles back in my hands!

My pink cast.  My solace when my arm was injured was that the cast was pink.
My pink cast. My solace when my arm was injured was that the cast was pink.

This was apparently the year that I met famous people!  As I posted about last week, I met members of the Barenaked Ladies after their show in December in Toronto and they signed an album of mine in April. I had my picture taken with Nathan Fillion at Fan Expo (he liked the Cunning Cap I made – squee!!), and through a series at the Toronto Library, I met author Diana Gabaldon, politician Justin Trudeau, and singer Alan Doyle!  My boss told me a story, and the gist of which is if you want to meet someone, you need to make it happen, and that’s what I did this year.  I made it happen.

Me, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, Katie and BFF Ash
Me, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, Katie and BFF Ash – his book is amazing, by the way

I have amazing friends in my life.  I have known my best friend since high school.  It’s not that we’ve ever fallen out, but this year, it’s as if we’ve rediscovered our silly side, and we’ve been closer this year than ever, and for that I’m so grateful.

Ash and I being silly on a Summer day
Ash and I being silly on a Summer day

I travelled to Quebec City in the Fall, and it was such a fantastic trip.  The history, the museums, the architecture, the food.  I fell in love with the oldest city in our country and with la belle province.

Awkward selfie in Quebec City - the lower city is in the background
Awkward selfie in Quebec City – the lower city is in the background

It has also been a busy year knitting wise.  I’m always trying new patterns and techniques, and this year I’ve made a few larger projects.  A new yarn shop opened up in my city, and I’ve met new, wonderful people by going to the knitting circle hosted there.  It has become my Wednesday night staple, and easily it is the highlight of my week.

Here is a sampling of some of my finished projects from the year.

The Firefly Cunning Cap I made for my dear work friend. This was the hat that Nathan Fillion said he liked!
The Firefly Cunning Cap I made for my dear work friend. This was the hat that Nathan Fillion said he liked!
Spats - they make me feel fancy
Spats – they make me feel fancy
A TARDIS ereader cover.
A TARDIS ereader cover.
A New England Patriots hat I  made for my brother for Christmas
A New England Patriots hat I made for my brother for Christmas
My Chateau shawl. My grandma gave me a gift certificate to my LYS for my birthday, and I made this lovely slouchy sweater  with it
My Chateau shawl. My grandma gave me a gift certificate to my LYS for my birthday, and I made this lovely slouchy sweater with it

The Symphony and Barenaked Ladies

Went downtown in the cold,
6:30 on a Friday Night,
Just to check out the late night,
Music show…

I don’t think I’ve discussed my deep love of the Barenaked Ladies yet on this blog.  So this post is fairly overdue! There are a few bands that I have loved for decades or more, their music is familiar and comforting.  Along with the Beatles, the Who, and Meat Loaf, the Barenaked Ladies are one of these bands.  Yes, I have a very eclectic taste in music.

With my signed copy of Grinning Streak - BNL did a signing for Record Store Day, so of course I went!
With my signed copy of Grinning Streak – BNL did a signing for Record Store Day, so of course I went!

I was fairly young when Gordon was released, and the pop-y, silly songs on that album appealed to me (Grade 9, Enid, and, of course, If I Had $1,000,000).  The band and the album were vetted by my older, cooler cousin, so obviously, it was a good choice.  I remember buying Maybe You Should Drive on cassette tape.  It was a big deal.  I fell out of the BNL for a time, but I fell headfirst back in when they released Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits.  And I fell hard.  My first concert was with my sister at Massey Hall in 2005; I’ve been to a handful of shows since, and every concert guarantees to be a fun time.

I like giving my sister concert tickets for her birthday.  It’s hard to buy for someone who has a birthday so close to Christmas, but it gives us a fun night out, fun sister-bonding time.  Her past birthday was no exception, and two Fridays ago, we were at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto for their Holiday concert.  What made this concert so unique was that it was with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  The crowd was slightly more subdued than usual, but the music was outstanding!  A number of their timeless hits were performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  This brought about a fullness to the songs, and it was such a great complement to the quartet.

Our pic pic after the show at Roy Thomson Hall
Our pic pic after the show at Roy Thomson Hall

Katie and I were also on a mission – we wanted to meet some Ladies.  So after the show, we waited with some other devoted fans, and after an hour or so, the band members took time as they were leaving to meet and greet with the fans.  K and I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed both the concert and their music, and we got photographs with the three members we met!  They were genuine, nice, and so great about taking a few pictures with fans.  It truly made our night, such a simple gesture from them.

PicMonkey Collage

The Ultimate Whovian Knitting Project

Yes, I am talking about THE scarf!  The iconic scarf.  The scarf that goes on for miles (or so it seems!).  The scarf made famous by the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.  Perhaps the most notable accessory worn by a Doctor, although I think bow ties, fezzes, and converse shoes give the scarf a run for its money!

Tom Baker was the fourth incarnation of the Doctor, on the long-running British series, Doctor Who.  First debuted in 1963, the show came up with an ingenious way to adapt to when a lead actor would leave the show, regeneration.  The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey,  and Time Lords can regenerate, or change their physical form and in turn their personality, most often as a way to save their lives.  Wow, explaining regeneration is complicated!  Tom Baker was the fourth actor to portray the Doctor (hense why he is referred to as the Fourth Doctor), he had the longest tenure of Doctor than any other actor, and he is often regarded by fans as the best incarnation of the Doctor.

And he wore one of the best pieces of knitware television has ever seen.

Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and his iconic scarf - from Wikipedia.com
Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and his iconic scarf – from Wikipedia.com

His mismatched , 14 foot long scarf made its debut with Tom Baker in 1974.  The story goes, a costume designer provided a local knitter with a bag of assorted yarn and asked her to knit a scarf, but the instructions weren’t more elaborate than that.  The knitter then made the scarf using all of the yarn she was provided with.  A piece of television history was born.

I fell in love with Doctor Who in 2013.  Yes, I am a late convert to this show, but once I started watching the 2005 reboot, I watched episode after episode, and I knew my love was solidified by the time I watched The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.  Brilliant episodes.  By early 2014, I wanted to make the scarf, and I finally jumped into the project during the summer.

My completed scarf, pinned to my blocking boards
My completed scarf, pinned to my blocking boards

Here’s where I admit to a little secret: I CHEATED… The original scarf is 14 feet in length and a foot wide.  My scarf: 7 feet long, 8 inches wide.  I wanted a scarf that I would actually wear and be comfortable wearing, and I knew my patience would seriously be tried if I went for the 14 footer.

Me and my scarf when the latest Doctor Who Series debuted.
Me and my scarf when the latest Doctor Who Series debuted.

I finished it in time for the Season 8 debut (the first episode with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor), and then I wore it a week or so later at Toronto’s Fan Expo, Toronto’s answer to Comicon.  It was a HOT, humid August day, but I proudly wore my scarf.

Now that the weather has turned colder, I’m wearing my scarf more often.  And I love it.  It is warm, geeky, and it reminds me of the time and love I put into it.

Many, many thanks to doctorwhoscarf.com for having not only pattern instructions available for many types of yarn weight, but also having a multitude of yarn options for colours suggested as well.  The webpage was bookmarked on my phone for months as I searched out the yarn for the project.  I followed the acrylic suggestions as best as I could, and ultimately, I am so very happy with my scarf.

Oh, The Weather Outside is… Canadian?

Yes, I am Canadian, and proud of it.  I love my country, its history, its diversity, its beauty.  However, the one thing I could live without is our winter.  I don’t have too much of a right to complain.  I live in Southern Ontario, so our winters aren’t as bad as, say around the 60th parallel, but still, our winters can get a little frigid. Yes, the inner child in me loves the first snowfall, and I love having a white Christmas, but the adult driver in me curses the snowfall and having to travel in it!

This week, the weather got cold.  Waking up one morning, it was -10°C (or, for any American readers, about 14 Fahrenheit).  If anything, this weather has given me the push I need to get knitting, because, really, no knitter worth their salt should be cold.  A few years before I truly learned the craft, I was gifted a pair of mittens, and while they are nice and toasty, the quality was lacking, and after a short time, they were falling apart.  After far too long, I’ve made a replacement.

Rest in pieces, white store bought mitts...
Rest in pieces, white store bought mitts…

I made my mittens, a variation from Kate Atherley’s Alcazar Mittens.  One thing I loved about the falling apart mittens was the cable along the back, so I included a 6 stitch cable on my mitten.  For the right mitten, the cable is worked at the beginning of the round, and for the left, it is worked at the end.  As well, rather than decreasing to 4 stitches, then drawing the yarn through, I decreased to 16 stitches, then re-arranged the stitches and did a kitchener stitch bind off.  If I was to make another pair like this, I would decrease another 4 stitches before the bind off, but hindsight is always 20/2o.

Completed warm mittens
Completed warm mittens

I chose to use Loops and Threads Charisma yarn for this project.  I’m wool intolerant, so I often do gravitate to acrylic yarns, and although it can pill, I find Charisma soft and warm.  And for these mittens, it hasn’t let me down, as they are soft and keep my fingers warm.  I’m also not very patient, and it is bulky and knits up fast, so these mitts were a quick, satisfying project.

I’m hoping later this winter to make more of these quick mittens and donate them.

 

Friday Night at the Museum

Music, drinks, food, and dinosaurs.  Yup, dinosaurs.  Just a typical night at the Royal Ontario Museum for their popular Friday Night Live series.  This is how I spent last Friday night, with close friends and my sister, to celebrate her birthday.  This popular event runs every Friday night for a two month period, and it is amazing to see the hallowed halls of a museum being transformed into areas for bands, conversations, and good food.  The inner museum person in me has little panic attacks when I think about food/drinks in gallery space (eek! Think of the pest possibilities!!), but it really is great to see that a museum is THE place to be on a Friday night.

Drinks... in museum galleries... pl;ease pardon my panic attack!
Drinks… in museum galleries… please pardon my panic attack!

Growing up in Ontario, the ROM was one of the places that you visited with family and on school trips. I think my earliest memory of the Museum was the old dinosaur gallery, before the ROM Renaissance of the 2000s.  It was dark, and there were really big bones.  Child of the 80s, The Land Before Time was a staple, and I remember thinking how cool it was to see a ‘Sharp Tooth’ in real life.  We visited sporadically before I started high school, but then it was years before I returned, after the installation of the ever contentious Michael Lee Chin Crystal (side note: I like the Crystal).

Visiting the ROM, you can wander and see their paleontological collections, natural history collections, and galleries showcasing Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, China, Japan, Africa, Europe, along with their textiles and mineralogy collections, which is one of my favourites.  I’m such a girl: I like shiny things.  Off the main rotunda, you can find their Canada Gallery, showcasing art, furniture, and artifacts which are significant to our country.  This is my favourite gallery, and I’m always sure to visit my favourite artifact, their Rebellion Box.  I see it, geek out, then move along.

Hello Rebellion Box
Hello Rebellion Box

While it’s wonderful to view objects from cultures from around the world, the one area that I feel the ROM leaves me wanting is a gallery outlining more of our own history.  Yes, there is the Canada Gallery, but even that gallery leaves me wanting.  This past Fall, I visited Quebec City, and I fell in love.  The history, the architecture, the culture, the museums.  The Quebecois people know how to tell their story.  In the musée de la civilisation, one of their permanent galleries is Le Temps des Québécois, and it outlines the 400+ years of history that the Province of Quebec has.  I was fascinated.  I am a History and Canadian Studies major, so I’m familiar with the history, but museums give the opportunity to educate and showcase, and the musée de la civilisation did just this.

In my humble opinion, the provincial story in Ontario is not being adequately told.  The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau tells the national story and city/municipal museums tell the story of their own communities, but the history of Ontario is somehow lost in the shuffle.  I would love to see an exhibition showcasing the history of the province, from the earliest First Nation inhabitants, to its creation, struggles, expansions, and how it has become the most populous province in the country.  How did Ontarians react to the World Wars? Why did they react this way? How about the Upper Canada Rebellion, what happened there?  From farms to cities, the north to our border with the US, there is a story waiting to be told.  This is what the musée de la civilisation did for the history of Quebec, and wouldn’t the Royal Ontario Museum be the ideal place to showcase the history of this province?

Until that day, I will continue to visit the ROM, look at cultural materials from around the world, wonder at pre-historic giants that roamed the earth, and visit my beloved Rebellion Box.

FNL at the ROM
FNL at the ROM

Socks: It’s Complicated

Do you have a project that you love and hate at the same time?  For me, it’s socks.  They are the project that I love to hate, or hate that I love.

Relationship status with sock knitting: It's Complicated
Relationship status with sock knitting: It’s Complicated

I was well into my knitting addiction when I began my first pair.  I bought a skein of Berroco Comfort Sock, soft and purple, from my LYS.  It was perfect for my first pair of socks.  It is self striping and created a lovely mix of colours, and I chose a fairly simple sock pattern with lots of stockinette and YouTube tutorials for when I inevitably got stumped on a step in the pattern.  They are soft and warm, and they make me happy when I’m wearing them.  Yes, I truly am about the simple things in life.  Since knitting this first pair, I find myself being drawn to bright, colourful sock yarn.  My stash doesn’t need anymore sock yarn… or so the logical part of my brain thinks.  These are the things I love about socks.

My first pair of socks - a little slouchy, but I love 'em!
My first pair of socks – a little slouchy, but I love ’em!

Flip the coin, and oh socks, how I loathe thee.  First, and perhaps I haven’t adequately stated this about me, I’m not a patient person.  When they were handing out virtues, I seem to have been skipped for patience.  I love chunky, bulky yarn, big needles, and the instant satisfaction that comes from starting and finishing a project.  I just don’t get that instant satisfaction from socks.  The yarn is so fine and the needles so tiny!  Maybe with more practice, I’ll get faster at them, but socks definitely test my patience.  And then there’s the fact that they are a pair!  Once one is finished you have the Yay the project is cast off feeling, but then, alas, you are ONLY HALF DONE!!  You get to repeat the process ALL OVER AGAIN!

Despite all the things that irritate me, I am still drawn into sock knitting.  I have a lovely pair on my needles right now, the yarn is green and blue and reminds me of the ocean, and I have a small ball of pink and white yarn just waiting for a simple sock to be made.  I might grumble, I might curse the knitting gods, but I do love me a knittted sock… and David Tennant agrees

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Finding the right words…

I love knitting.  I’ve started a knitting blog about how much I love it, so clearly, I’m not shy about sharing my passion.  I’m also not the type of gal to shy away from attention.  Exhibit A: I love bright coloured clothing, I wear bold glasses (think Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds), and my hair currently has panels of blue, purple, and teal in it (my BFF and hair dresser extraordinaire was going for a peacock look).  Clearly, not afraid of a little spotlight.  But when it comes to my knitting, there are times that I’m not sure what to say when it gets attention.

I will often knit in public.  Trains, coffee shops, buses, restaurants, all of these are places to knit.  So when I had the chance to see a notable politician speak about his latest book, I arrived early to ensure a good spot, pulled out my e-reader and the Sweet Sweater Dress I was working on for my BFF’s daughter. I know how to keep myself entertained. While working away, knitting in hand, e-reader balanced on my knee, a woman made comment on my multi-tasking, and later, while standing and chatting with my sister, again knitting away at the stockinette pattern, a woman remarked how impressed she was that I wasn’t watching my stitches, just knitting along.  Both times, I found myself at a loss for the right response.  The first one I laughed away, that I couldn’t be as co-ordinated if I was trying to read a real book with pages to turn, and the second, my sister responded, telling her that I’ve always got knitting needles in my hands, it’s second nature to me.

I also have awkward responses to when people compliment my work.  If I’m wearing pieces I’ve made, and I get asked about them, I appreciate the compliments and kind words, but I’m always doubting my responses.  I was once out shopping with my mother while wearing my big slouchy Chateau shawl, which I absolutely adore for a number of reasons.  A lady remarked that she liked my sweater, and I thanked her, but my mother couldn’t resist boasting that I had made it.  I am proud of the Chateau, no doubt, and Mum was proud of it too, or perhaps simply proud of her daughter.

My favourite, slouchy, comfy Chateau Shawl
My favourite, slouchy, comfy Chateau Shawl

Perhaps, my awkwardness and uncertainty comes from being aware of walking the like between being thankful of others’ compliments, and not wanting to come across as boastful.  Am I the only one with these thoughts?  Yeah, probably 🙂