Cross Stitch 2018

I did cross stitching for many years before I went back to knitting upon the birth of our first grandchild. I drifted away from it but, after seeing the beautiful cross stitching and particularly hardanger being done in my stitching groups, I had the desire to pick it up again.

Debbie Bremner, the leader of one of the stitching groups, Community Stitchers, organizes a Christmas ornament exchange each year. The ornaments, done in any form of needlework, are put on display. Later in the morning, they are placed in individual brown paper bags. Each stitcher may choose the same number of bags as the ornaments she entered in the exchange.

Now, this is my cup of tea! I want to devote the majority of my needlework time to knitting and I have many projects in mind. But a special cross stitch project or two each year is an enjoyable break from knitting and purling.

Having said that, I have, in the past couple of years, managed to cross stitch several extra ornaments for the Christmas tree.

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The patterns have either come from old Leisure Arts Christmas cross stitch books, friends,  or from Pinterest.

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This beautiful harbinger ornament was gifted to me this year by Debbie Bremner. Debbie learned how to stitch hardanger on a visit to Norway a number of years ago and has been devoted to it ever since.

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I have always loved vintage Santas and I am constantly on the look out for more of these patterns. AbeBooks is an excellent source for out of print books and I have acquired a few of the old Christmas cross stitch editions at a very reasonable price. Plus it is a great website for sitting with a hot drink and whiling a stormy day!

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Remainder of Knitting Projects 2018

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Pattern: K3,P1 ribbing
Yarn: Opal Rainforest4 – 4 ply
Colour: 9457
Needles: Circular – 2.25 mm

Opal is at the top of my list for sock yarns. After wearing hand knit socks for over ten years now, it is easily the yarn that has held up best with lots of wear and lots of laundering!

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Pattern: Baby Raglan Sweater
Designer: Carole Barenys
Yarn: Mineville Wool Project Merino DK Single
Colour: Cumulus
Needles: Circular – 3.25 mm and 3.5 mm

I love Mineville Wool Project yarns! And this colour – Cumulus – is my favourite.

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Pattern: K3,P1 ribbing
Yarn: Regia Perfect Design Line by Arne & Carlos
Colour: 9137
Needles: Circular – 2.25 mm

I was a little disappointed in the way this yarn knit up. Matching the socks was no problem but I feel there was too little of the pattern section on the foot and far too much of what should have been just the toe colour! Knitting a smaller size might have corrected the problem somewhat but I don’t want to purchase a yarn that prevents me from making a man’s size! I do like the colours very much.

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Pattern: Buttons Cardigan #606
Yarn: Naturally Loyal Tweed
Colour: 1004
Needles: Circular – 3.5 mm

This is one of my go-to patterns for a baby. It is knit from the top down and can look a little more sophisticated in a colour like this (commissioned for a baby named Henry and very fitting for a very young professor!) or more lighthearted in a lighter or variegated yarn.

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Pattern: K3,P1
Yarn: Regia Pairfect
Colour: 01341
Needles: Circular – 2.25 mm

I love striped socks and as soon as I saw this yarn, I knew it was meant to be for Daughter #2!

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Pattern: Jason’s Cashmere Hat
Designer: Melissa Thomson
Yarn: Ella Rae Classic Solids
Colour: 172
Needles: Circular – 4.0 mm and 4.5 mm

This is now one of my favourite hat patterns. The ribbing and cables give it flexibility and a great fit and the cables add just enough density to make it feel more cosy than many other hat designs.

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Pattern: Luffe Mittens
Designer: Lone Kjeldsen
Yarn: Sandes Garn Perfect
Colours: 4219 and 1042
Lining Yarn: Henry’s Attic Kona Superwash Sport
Colour: My own hand dyed colour using Wilton’s food colouring!

I belong to a stitching group in Hackett’s Cove made up of a couple dozen very talented needleworkers. I watched two of them knit these mittens last year and they looked so warm and cosy, I couldn’t resist giving the pattern a try.
Although the pattern calls for the same weight yarn for both mittens and lining, I feel it fits better when the lining is a lighter weight.
The offset thumb looks peculiar but feels marvellous on the hand!

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Pattern: Luuk
Designer: Annis Jones
Yarn: Various colours of leftover worsted weight yarn
Needles: Circular – 5.0 mm

Luuk is such a fun hat to knit and comes in a wide variety of sizes – from preemie to adult large.
January is always the month when I look over the knitting stash and attempt to use leftover partial balls of yarn in a variety of projects.

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Pattern: Basic Baby Hat
Designer: Heather Tucker
Yarn: Naturally Loyal Tweed
Colour: 1004
Needles: Circular – 3.5 mm

This hat was also commissioned for Baby Henry, a bouncing baby boy (10 pounds plus!) who recently made his appearance in central Canada.

Odessa

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 Pattern: Odessa
Designer: Grumperina
Yarn: Mineville Wool Project Merino DK Single
Colour: Peggy’s Cove
Needles: Circular – 3.5mm and 4.0mm

I love all the yarns that come from Fleece Artist of Nova Scotia. Mineville Wool Project yarns are just one group that they produce. Their colours are stunning. We can all be proud of this Canadian company.

I have knit the Odessa pattern in the past. It is easy, lends itself to solid or variegated yarns, and always results in a good fit. I am particularly fond of this colour!

The Farmhouse Shawl

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Pattern: Farmhouse Shawl
Designer: cabin four
Yarn: Berroco Remix
Colour: 3901 Birch
Needles: Circular – 5.0mm

I love my Farmhouse Shawl. I have wanted to do knit it ever since I first saw the pattern on Ravelry. It is large (I have made small, fine lace shawls in the past but find I never wear them. The process was always proved to be far more interesting than the finished product!). Farmhouse has that simple, practical look and, like the designer, I could see myself wearing it in the early mornings when the grass is still wet and the air decidedly cool.

I rarely knit with a synthetic yarn or a synthetic blend but, Mimi, at The Loop in Halifax steered me toward Berroco Remix. She rarely has a whiff of synthetic in her yarn store so I trusted her opinion and the colour was exactly what I had been looking for. And while I love wool above all other fibres, this shawl is really intended for summer wear.

I am not much of a fringe person but the fringe suits this shawl pattern. I couldn’t imagine it without the fringe.

It was a most enjoyable pattern to knit. It is such a pleasure when the combination of pattern and yarn yields exactly what I imagined in my mind’s eye!

Spring 2017 in France

I have not posted prior to this about our 2017 spring vacation because, as mentioned before, my blog had been out of commission for a long time.

It was an amazing holiday. We flew from Canada to Lyon and spent a couple of days at the Hotel Vaubecour in the 2nd district of Vieux Lyon.

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The hotel is run by a friendly, bilingual, very capable couple, who live on site. The second floor entrance is accessed via a very small, very old elevator – quirky by North American standards but it did the job nonetheless! The owners told us that the hotel, with its lovely architecture, was at one time a high class bordello! It was pleasant, comfortable, and the service could not have been better.

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Lyon

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The uphill walk to this church was a good cardiac workout, to say the least. The way back down was easier as we followed winding woodland paths in a park area that led us to the the river front again.

When it was time to leave Lyon, we took a taxi to the train station to continue on to Valence to meet up with the French branch of the family. When we arrived at the station, we found the section where we were to access our platform cordoned off and guarded by many armed soldiers, as there had been a security threat. Everyone seemed to be taking the situation in stride, however, more concerned with the train arrival and departure times than the security presence. Before long, the crisis was over, the path cleared, and we were on our way.

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Le Domaine de Vincenti

After arriving at the Valence train station, we all drove on to Crest to stay at the most amazing holiday rental, Domaine de Vincenti. The grounds, with a couple of swimming pools, large treehouse, sandy play area, chapel, and tennis courts were lovely. Our villa was large, bright, and airy with all the comforts of home. The outdoor terrace was stocked with a barbecue, eating area, and lounge chairs. A family could easily stay on the estate, relax, walk, swim, play tennis, visit the donkeys, and only leave the grounds to stock up on more food!

I should point out here that nobody, but nobody, can plan a holiday as well as our Isabelle. She planned every day and every detail of this adventure and we had an amazing time.

We explored the Rhone Valley:

We walked an Aromatic Garden, had a tour of a lavender factory, a factory that produced French olive oil, and one that manufactured nougat candy, along with marshmallows and other treats. We were able to watch all the steps in that process via large windowed areas and, of course, stocked up in the factory shop before leaving.

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We ate lunch al fresco at a cafe owned and operated by a British lady, who has been living in France for many years. This was a real treat for us as, being April, we would not be eating outdoors at home in Canada!

We toured the area, visiting Mirbel-et-Blacons, Montclar, Gigors-et-Lozeron, etc. – climbed steep cobblestoned village streets, and viewed the Valley landscapes from the hilltops.

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Knights Hospitaller at Le Poët-Laval

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April is an event packed month in our family. We celebrated Lucy’s birthday, as well as Alec’s, mine, (Sophie’s from a distance), and Easter!
My birthday surprise was a wine tasting session at the gîte! They arranged to have a gentleman arrive with multiple cartons packed with bottles of wine, pates, bread, and cheese, all made locally in the Rhone Valley. He was actually another expat Brit, who has made his home permanently in this region of France.
It was a great afternoon. He showed us on a map where each chateau winery was situated, described the geography, the soil, the climate, the grapes, and the characteristics of each individual wine. He could even provide, on his iPad, photos of the chateau owners! I think we learned a great deal about the nature of the local wines from our session with him and we got to enjoy the remainder of the wines and eats during the rest of our time in Crest!