I was was told on Sunday that I am a slack blogger, but I’ve been out and about putting a bit of spice in my life. There was no time to write. But I’m back and here’s a little summary of where I’ve been and where we are now.
Monday was Valentine’s Day, but Jon and I enjoyed our celebration of that fun holiday a week ahead of time. We got away, just us two, and stayed in a lovely and luxurious hotel for five days.
Now, I wonder if anyone (outside my family) can guess where the photos above and below were taken. Really, no fair naming the place if you already know because I TOLD you.
Here are a few extra hints: We enjoyed the most amazing Italian dinner just a few blocks north of this scenic parking lot, right after I watched my husband do some very enthusiastic gift shopping at a wonderful art shop on Sherman Street.
Notice how much these feather earrings look like the flies one might use to catch fish. And since we have both a jewelry designer and several fly-tying fishermen living under our roof, we found this quite inspirational.
After dinner and a glass or two of wine, we popped in to Cabela’s Sporting goods store, which is fly fisherman heaven and which I’m now recommending as a Valentine’s Day entertainment destination.
While there, we tried on some cool shades and some really bad hats, photographed their extensive collection of taxidermy,and checked out all their feathers which can be used to make fake insects OR lovely jewelry. I suspect that we almost bought a crazy expensive fly-fishing reel, but I noticed we walked out empty handed. Having fun with your husband in a hunting and fishing supply store is actually way more romantic than watching a sunset, by the way. And it’s not nearly as time sensitive.
Besides goofing off in the fly-tying department , Jon and I met some really wonderful Christian physicians and their spouses on our trip. We saw gorgeous scenery, enjoyed some delightful meals with very interesting people and we really had fun just being together without any interruption. It’s kind of rare for us, and we were so glad for that little gift of time together. It was lovely just to sit with my husband on an airplane and know that I was not responsible for six kids and their passports and the reservations and connections for the next 24 hours. (One day I will write up a blog post about travelling with the kids, and without the husband, to Europe last fall, and how much fun and how much stress came with that adventure. But that’s another post.)
So we had this sweet getaway. Meanwhile, the kids had an amazing opportunity to exhibit their maturity at home by keeping everything in top condition, while loving the little ones and keeping up with that business of educating themselves. They did a stellar job. I am so thankful for them. Again.
Daniel got a bit lonely for adult companionship one afternoon and pulled a snowball ambush upon our very kind neighbour, Charles, as he emerged from his car at the end of his workday.
Charles was nearly injured in the snowball fight which followed, and claims to be working out with weights in preparation for our next trip out of town. Otherwise, it all went well. Or so they say.
We returned home at the end of last week and then everybody skiied on Monday, even Jon. That was a special treat. It was extra cold and icy, and the skiing was FAST, but it was a great day. One of our favourite Valentine’s Days in a long long time.
I believe we’re now in the second half of the seventh week of 2011. And, as I had hoped, we are winding up week ten of Tapestry of Grace. We aren’t on the official (and very optimistic) schedule of the publisher, but we are on schedule according to my plan so it’s all good as far as I can see.
We’re into the late 1920’s, financial crises, increasing turmoil in post-war Europe, getting ready for darker days ahead.
And I’m cramming extra large doses of grammar instruction down various gullets, as it has come to my attention that a love of grammar in not innate for everyone, and none of my little darlings have inherited mine. I thought my children would be born with a craving for sentence diagramming. Turns out they took after their dad on this one. This will soon be remedied!
And here, for a little artistic break, are some of Maggie’s projects from this morning. First, a blackline drawing which she off-handedly describes as (from left to right)
“This is the Dad, this is the little boy…….and this is the angry policeman.”
We wonder what the rest of the story is, but when I asked, she just flicked her wrist and went on to fill the next piece of blank paper.
Later, having grown weary of the simplicity of pen and ink, she made some flowers to brighten our gray snowy world. She had a little help from Audrey…….
Meanwhile, the sweater I am knitting for David has not been seen or heard of on this blog in a few weeks. So, everybody asks, what’s the deal with that?
First, I took a week away from working on it so that I could attend a class called ” Tips and Tricks for Finishing Your Knitted Garment.” I signed up for this class because I was so nervous and unprepared for the job of putting this sweater together.
Last time I put a sweater together, it looked like it was tailor made for a chimp with one arm five inches higher than the other. Sadly, it was knitted in the most beautiful garnet mohair, so it was a tragically freakish deformity knitted in elegant yarn.
For this “finishing” class, students were required to knit up several oddly shaped pieces, which we then brought to class and practiced our new finishing tricks on.
I was by far the least skilled knitter in the class of 15. And, of course, I was closest to the instructor, so she was continually grabbing my work to show to the class.
The first time, she didn’t really check to see if it was done correctly before hoisting it aloft and saying “Let’s see how Missy did…” She then looked closely at the knitted piece, and then at me, and said “This is terrible! Were you even listening to my instructions?” ****Mortifying****
But, I learned it before the class was done, and now I can do it just like the rest of those ladies.
In that class, we talked a fair bit about how and why a knitter might decide if a piece of work has too many errors in it to be “wearable”. So, I came home and looked at David’s sweater, which consisted of the entire trunk up to the arm-pits, and the beginnings of both sleeves. I started taking note of all the things I didn’t like about the way it was turning out. And there were just too many little things that I was not happy with.
So……. I pulled it off the needles.
And last Saturday, I started the whole thing over.
The new sweater is on the left, and I think the most important improvement in it is not photographable, and that is the texture and weight it now has. It’s so much denser and more substantial. So, I am really glad I went ahead and abandoned the old one and built it all new. I don’t think I’ll be as reluctant to begin again in the future, if it looks like that’s the better option.
Here are both sweater attempts.
When Audrey saw what I was doing, she gave the most heartfelt groan of sympathy, which really made it all feel much less lonely and hopeless. It’s always nice to have an empathetic friend!
In the new and improved sweater, I have used a long tail cast-on which has given the ribbing at the waist a much stronger and straighter edge. I have also doubled the yarn, and am knitting two skeins together on size 9 needles (instead of one two ply strand on size 6 needles). Now, it’s knitting up faster, thicker, more substantial, warmer, and the tweedy colors are blending better. I love it now. In five days, I have got as much sweater knitted up as I had previously done in six weeks. So, I am now almost exactly where I was when I abandoned the first attempt. Apparently, I’m really slow to pick up new skills. For me, perseverance is the only way.
Now, I’m using this little success story of mine with quite a heavy hand, as I encourage my young home-schooled writers not to fear having to write and re-write and then re-write again until their work is of good quality. Sometimes my “life lessons from knitting” really tax the patience of my family, I’m noticing.
I think that the next several weeks will be packed with school, dentists, music lessons, skiing, friends visiting every Friday, and a little bit of interior decorating. Not very spicy, but all very nice. It’s sometimes just good to be home.