Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dragonfly Summer

One disadvantage of having a fellow knitter and Ravelry member in the family is that I can’t show you all of my projects as I complete them.  On the other hand, another knitter truly appreciates the gifts you make for them so that more than makes up for the inconvenience.

My daughter, Jessica, celebrated her birthday on Friday but had to wait until today to see her gifts.

First up, Dragonfly Socks. 

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Jessica is a dragonfly fanatic so I knew these would be the perfect choice.  I tried to find a yarn that captured the brilliant blue-green of a dragonfly and found it in SweetGeorgia Yarns’ “Tourmaline” colourway.

And, coincidentally, in the same colour range, the Shoalwater Shawl, knit with Knit Picks Shimmer.

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I can’t even remember when I cast on this shawl—suffice it to say it was years ago—and it has spent most of its life languishing in my knitting basket.  Every so often Jessica would inquire about its progress and threaten to kidnap and finish it herself so it seemed fitting that it should be hers when I finally completed it this spring.

These two pieces were gifted together in a dragonfly-print knitting bag, along with a dragonfly card—can you tell I love a theme?  Ironically, Jessica presented us with an anniversary card with—you guessed it—dragonflies on the front.  She says she chose it for the message…

Friday, July 23, 2010

Here Again, Gone Again

This month I am spending far more time away than I am at home.  First up was the Alaskan cruise, then after about a week at home (which included a visit from my mother-in-law and a ball tournament) came a mini roadtrip with my sister, Anna-Marie.  It has become an annual summer tradition for us to leave the husbands at home and spend a few days at the cabin with my parents. 

The day after we arrived we took a drive up the road so Anna-Marie could see the damage from the forest fire last summer.  Although I was once again saddened to see the utter devastation in some areas, it was encouraging to see green grass growing where last fall there had been only ash.

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The forest begins to heal…

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Thanks to some inclement weather I got a fair bit of knitting done, working a pattern repeat on my Bougainvillea socks

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and casting on the latest ZenGoddess project, the Isis scarf.

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When the weather cleared up I went fishing with my Dad.  In addition to admiring the beauty of the lake

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I managed to catch dinner.

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When I arrived home yesterday I eagerly downloaded the last clue for the SKA Mystery Sock by Chrissy Gardiner.  Tah dah!  One down, one to go.

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This has been such a fun pair to work on and I will miss them when I am done.

I’m only home for a few days before leaving again on Monday, when Cameron and I begin a week’s holiday on Vancouver Island.  We’ll have a few nights on our own but will also spend some time visiting my mother-in-law and camping with my brother- and sister-in-law.  Once we return home life will kick into high gear for Cameron at work but with any luck will settle into a lazy summer routine for me, which will include lots of knitting.

Something that I am particularly looking forward to is the first pattern release in the Indie Socks CSK, a new venture by designer Chrissy Gardiner.  This has also turned out to be the year of the yarn club for me and this summer I will be receiving shipments from ZenGoddess, Sip ‘n Stitch, and 7 Wonders, in addition to taking part in SKA and the 50 Socks/50 States KAL on Ravelry.  Okay, maybe this summer won’t exactly be lazy but it should be relaxing.

Finally, a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY is in order for my daughter, who turns 25 today.  Sorry, Jessica, you’ll just have to wait until Sunday to get your present.  I’ll share pics with the rest of you then.     

Friday, July 16, 2010

North to Alaska

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were enjoying our last day aboard the ms Zuiderdam and somewhat reluctantly anticipating our return to real life. 

We set sail last Saturday afternoon from Canada Place in Vancouver.

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Some of my nieces and nephews came to bid us bon voyage.

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There were many surprises awaiting my parents in their cabin, including balloons, flowers, champagne, and various other anniversary gifts.  All twelve of us squeezed into their tiny stateroom and watched them open their cards and packages.

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The anniversary celebration continued the next night when the dining room staff sang to them and presented them with a special cake.

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On Monday we sailed up Tracy Arm and saw our first icebergs

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and numerous waterfalls gushing into the glacial-green waters.

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Before arriving in Juneau later that day the whole family ate together at the Pinnacle Grill, a gift from our travel agent.  My lunch was almost too pretty to eat.

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In Juneau we joined up with Alison and Stan and did a bit of shopping.  Afterwards we checked out the beverages at the Alaskan Hotel.

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Then Cameron and I were off on an evening whale-watching tour.  Although we did see two humpbacks they moved too quickly to capture on camera.

The next day we arrived in Skagway, where we had arranged a bus and train trip along the White Pass & Yukon Route. 

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We took the bus to Fraser, BC, which boasts a whopping population of 14, all Canadian Customs officials,

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then boarded the train for the return trip to Skagway,

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Despite the fog we took in some beautiful sights.

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Once in Skagway, we had lunch at a local pub and did some shopping.  Do you detect a pattern here?

Wednesday was undoubtedly the highlight of our entire cruise. 

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In the morning we entered Glacier Bay and cruised right up to the Margerie Glacier, where we remained anchored for about an hour.

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Even when you get up close, it’s hard to believe that this glacier is over a mile wide and about 25 stories high. 

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The Margerie Glacier moves about seven feet a day, continually calving huge chunks of ice into the water.  We were lucky enough to see it calve twice before we headed back out of the inlet.

The rest of the day was one picture postcard moment after another, as we sailed past more glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and rugged shorelines.  We even saw a brown bear walking away after lunching on a beached whale. 

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Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better several pods of whales were spotted as we made our way out of Glacier Bay.  They were spouting and breaching all around us.

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Most were quite far away but one pod came close to the ship and put on a show.

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Our final port-of-call was Ketchikan, where it was hot and sunny.

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We spent our time there much as we had the other towns, wandering in and out of shops and checking out the local pubs.  The whole family met for lunch at Fish Pirate’s Saloon where we enjoyed some cold drinks and delicious fish and chips, while listening to live music.

We spent the last day at sea under mostly overcast skies but the weather didn’t stop some of us from participating in a 5 km on-deck walk to support breast cancer.  My mom, a fifteen-year breast cancer survivor, was thrilled to be walking, accompanied by four of her five daughters.  Even the captain participated and unexpectedly popped  into our group photo.

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The final night featured the Master Chef’s Dinner and everything was beautifully presented and delicious, just as it had been during the entire trip.

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That evening the sun came out and highlighted the beautiful British Columbian coastal scenery as we cruised past.  The feeling was bittersweet; our cruise was coming to an end but we all looked forward to returning to our homes and families and a more familiar way-of-life.  The next morning Vancouver looked stunning in the sunshine as we sailed into Burrard Inlet, past Stanley Park, and back into Canada Place.  Within just a few short hours of docking, we arrived home.       

Now, I can imagine you thinking, “That’s all wonderful but what about the yarn, the knitting?  That’s what we really care about.” 

The truth is that despite my best intentions I did very little knitting on my trip, less than twenty rows of ribbing on a sock cuff.  But I was thrilled to spot this large and beautiful sculpture in the ship’s theatre.

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It made me feel right at home. 

And in each port I picked up some sock yarn, each dyed by a different Alaskan hand-dyer.

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From left to right: A Tree Hugger’s Wife “Sturdy Sock” purchased (and dyed) in Juneau, two skeins of Rabbit Ridge Designs “Soxx” bought in Skagway, and Raven Frog Fiber Arts “Bear Feet” from Ketchikan.  Alison and I also each bought a skein of Noro “Kureyon” in Ketchikan.  It was Buy 1, Get 1 Free—how could we resist?

I think yarn makes the very best type of souvenir, don’t you?  You can knit your memories into every stitch. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

All is Revealed

On Wednesday people across Canada marched in parades, ate cake, and attended fireworks displays.  Even the queen turned out for the event.


What prompted this nationwide celebration?  Why, my parents’ 50th anniversary, of course! 

Okay, so the rest of the country was really celebrating Canada Day but we can pretend, right?

In actual fact, my parents weren’t interested in having a big party to mark their Golden Anniversary.  Last year when the subject came up we decided we would take a family vacation instead, for the first time since we were kids.  Since we’re all married now we decided the husbands could come too but no children!  After much discussion, we decided on an Alaskan cruise and we will be boarding the ship just a few hours from now.

Mom and Dad stayed over at my place last night and when they arrived I couldn’t wait to present them with their afghan. 

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They seemed genuinely pleased with their gift and spent a while oohing and aahing over the various squares.  I pointed out what I thought of as “their” squares, a fish for Dad

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a breast cancer ribbon for Mom,

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and a church for the two of them.

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They even declared that they would use it, not just put it where it could be admired but not touched—music to a knitter’s ear!

And like a good knitter I have scoped out the yarn shops in our ports of call and plan on picking up some Alaskan hand-dyed souvenirs along the way (I thought about some qiviut but $92 per oz is a little rich for my blood).  I’ll be sure to show them off when I return but for now I’d better go finish packing!