Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Midweek Meanderings

:: Yesterday as I Googled the question "Can I use Nikwax on Blundstone boots?" I realized that I might be a little strange. Of course, I already was quite aware that I'm a bit odd, but every once in awhile something like this happens and makes me think I might be even stranger than I previously thought I was.

:: My husband rescued three raccoon kits last week. They had gone dumpster diving, but unfortunately for them the dumpster was almost empty, so once they went in they had no way to climb back out. I know they can be a terrible menace, and we've suffered the loss of an expensive bird feeder thanks to their incredible dexterity and determination, but I'm afraid my opinion of them has forever been shaped by reading the book Rascal to my children when they were young. There's a part of me (that would be the odd part referenced above) that would love to have one as a pet.

:: Our washing machine has died. Again. A few weeks ago it had an electronic malfunction where it wouldn't run because it sensed the door was open, even though it was clearly shut. We had to wait almost three weeks for the repair people, and thought everything had been dealt with. Foolish us. It had another electronic seizure last week. They are now going to replace the machine with a new one. This will be the fourth washing machine that has been in this cottage since we moved here just over three years ago. Unbelievable really.

:: I've been on an Archer sewing binge. I've made one blouse and two of the Popover variations. (The pictures are all rubbish. I've had to rehire the photographer I fired.) The middle Popover was my attempt at a collarless version, inspired by a similar shirt I saw in the LL Bean catalog.

:: It's a very dangerous thing to be watching the Great British Bake Off. I always end up wanting to make some decadent dessert, and I'm trying to cut way back on how much sugar I consume. My latest downfall has been this posset recipe from the BBC. I was sorry to hear the BBC is no longer going to be airing this program. It makes no sense to me that they decided to get rid of such a popular show.

:: While I'm still on the topic of TV shows, last night I was watching episode one of The Missing on BBC. I couldn't believe it when there was a scene with the French inspector out chopping wood and he was wearing a Coast Salish style sweater. It wasn't some new, acrylic, mass produced sweater either. It showed signs of obvious wear, and was clearly knit with the thick yarn used to make the sweaters. If anyone knows the back story to this please share.

:: This recipe popped into my inbox this week. If, like me, you have extra pumpkin puree in your fridge that you don't know what to do with, this is a good way to use it up. In keeping with my reduced sugar life I was pleased to see these called for very little sweetener. And I subbed dried cranberries (I dry my own, so they aren't coated in sugar like the kind you buy at the store) for the chocolate chips. Not that I'm opposed to chocolate in any form, it just seemed that cranberries were a better match for the pumpkin.

:: On a recent walk to the lake I decided to cut over to the path by Frosst Creek. I was surprised to see there had been a busy beaver at work. There was a tree across the path and extending into the creek, which wouldn't be a huge deal except for the creek is salmon habitat, and this is the time of the year they are making there way up it to spawn. Or trying to, if trees aren't blocking their way.

:: I'm making progress on my skirt. It would be going faster if I didn't keep forgetting to use the new colourwork technique from the workshop. I've had to tink back several rows due to the fact I pick up the knitting and go into auto-pilot. Someone needs to come up with a knitting app that reaches out and pinches you every time you start to do something stupid.

:: Last weekend's storm ended up being a non-event, which was a relief. But it has remained dark and dreary here, with just an occasional glimpse of the sun.

:: I'll continue to post pictures of our family in individual posts, but after the identity theft I decided I no longer felt comfortable with their pictures being in the sidebar of my blog.

:: I found these candles and the holder at IKEA. A bit of hygge added to our cottage, all for under $10.

:: I hope your week is going well. I'm off to visit my mom tomorrow, so will touch in again next week after I return.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Coast Salish Weekend

Two weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity. My publisher, Diane Morriss, who has Saltbox Yarn Studio, and Sylvia Olsen from Salish Fusion Knitwear, decided to team up and run some knitting workshops. Sadly, the August fire that burned the Sono Nis warehouse also burned much of what had been ordered to start the company. However, they decided to carry on with the weekend workshop, and invited me to fill one of the spots.

The workshop was being held in a penthouse suite at the Chateau Victoria, and started off on the Friday night with a meet and greet. Normally I would rather attend my own funeral than a meet and greet, but decided that since it was a group of "my people" (knitters), it might be okay. As it turned out it was more than okay. A wonderful group of women were there, all anxious to learn about Coast Salish knitting, and we had no shortage of things to talk about. (This is my usual hang-up in group settings. Being a double introvert I find making small talk excruciatingly painful.)

Saturday and Sunday were very full days. We started with an amazing breakfast, then got right down to the heart of the workshop, which was learning to knit with two colours the way the Coast Salish knitters do. This isn't a technique exclusive to the Coast Salish, and in fact is one that is used by knitters around the world, but is perhaps not as well known as other methods.

Sylvia has a gift for teaching and weaving stories into her lessons at the same time.

This is a very old Coast Salish sweater, I believe from the 1930s. You'll notice a few rows of orange at the bottom part of the sweater. We learned that the women would sometimes put these random bits of colour into their work, but as the sweaters started to become popular a more uniform look was desired by the consumer, so these pops of colour were abandoned.

We now know how to spot an authentic Coast Salish sweater. The sweater in this photo belongs to my daughter-in-law, and is not authentic. (Although it has an interesting history of its own, and maybe at some point I'll blog about it).

The vest pattern is Joni's Vest, and is a fusion of Coast Salish knitting along with other techniques. Whoever invented afterthought pockets was a genius.

This is my knitting bugaboo. Zippers terrify me. I have put them in a couple of vests, and they weren't all that successful. (That's a nice way of saying they were hideous.) Sylvia made it sound doable, although I still have my doubts about putting one in.

Everyone is concentrating on their knitting. It's hard to see in this picture, but there are two bowls of chocolates on the table. Brain fuel.

We did eat things other than chocolate over the course of the weekend. The bottom pictures are from breakfast and lunch, and the top two pictures are from the delicious Coast Salish dinner we were served on Saturday night. There was a candied salmon dip that was to die for!

The sample table was popular. It was stacked with everything from old Coast Salish sweaters to designs currently out for test knitting like this sweet little children's whale sweater. I plan to make one of these for Lucy as soon as the pattern is released.

There was even a dress, which was every bit as much a work of art as it was a garment.

Of all the items on the table, this proved to be the most popular. It is one of the test knits for the skirt pattern in Sylvia's book Knitting Stories. It was the most comfortable thing I've ever put on. The temptation was great to just casually put the tunic I was wearing down over it and walk out the door with it. You can see another version of the skirt in the picture of Sylvia at the top of this post.

So there you have it. A wonderful weekend in Victoria with new knitting techniques and new friends, plus I even managed to squeeze in a bit of time with Lucy and Oliver. More workshops are going to be scheduled soon, so when I get the dates I'll edit this post with more information in case anyone is interested in attending. The link at the top of the post for Saltbox Yarn Studio should also have the information posted as soon as it becomes available.

Now I'm hunkering down for The Storm. The remnants of Super Typhoon Songda are due to hit the west coast of BC and Washington State later today. The warnings are for very high winds and extreme rainfall, which means we will no doubt lose our power between now and tomorrow morning as the storm moves through. I'm as prepared as I can be. I've got multiple flashlights out, along with my super powerful lantern. I have a cooler with ice and food on the back deck. Our fireplace will keep me warm, and the water runs here even when the power has been cut. And perhaps most important of all, we now have a Coleman camp stove so I can make a cup of tea.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers! This little whirlwind has been keeping her nana too busy to do a proper blog post. I'll be back in a few days with an update on last weekend's knitting adventure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Cautionary Tale

Before I get to today's topic I wanted to say thank you to everyone for your lovely comments on my last post. A special thank you to Julie Dyson, who mentioned a poem called October's Bright Blue Weather. I looked the poem up and it was lovely. And Marie asked about our dogs. She was confused because she thought we only had one. We actually have two dogs, and they are sort of "his and her" pets. I'm the person who belongs to Fergus the Westie, and my husband is the person owned by Jenny the wiener dog. Fergus gets very jealous if I mention Jenny on my blog, so that could be why you hadn't heard about her before.

Now for the serious stuff. If you aren't interested in the details surrounding what happened with the breach of my online banking please feel free to scroll down, and there will be a few pictures that have nothing whatsoever to do with crime.

My online banking was broken into early in August. The bank caught the fraud while it was happening, immediately stopped online access to my accounts, and phoned me. This was all good. They also immediately deposited back the amount that had been stolen. That was also good. But this is where the good stopped and the bad started, at least in terms of the bank and their response.

In that initial phone call alerting me to the fraud I was told my account was accessed on the very first try of the password, and that meant I had to have malware on my computer. They told me I needed to take it in to a professional to have the computer completely wiped. Several phone calls with the fraud department later they reluctantly agreed that it would probably be okay if my son-in-law wiped it rather than someone at a big box store, but they weren't very happy about it. They wanted a receipt proving it had been done. And here's the scary part. I was told that if I didn't wipe my computer and the fraud happened again I would be on the hook for any funds stolen. Gulp.

I took my computer into Anton, and he had a very good look at it. His verdict was there was almost no chance it had malware. Also, he said the malware that would be required to do what the bank claimed had happened would have to be very sophisticated. Probably not the kind of thing you pick up downloading knitting and sewing patterns.

While he had my computer, and about two weeks after the original bank fraud, we got a phone call late one night from an RCMP officer in a nearby community. He had recovered a stolen car that day, and in it was a cell phone. And on the cell phone were pictures of my driver's licence, bank debit card, and my two charge cards. He said the person who stole the car was definitely the person who broke into my car that day back in July when I was at Teapot Hill. It was a drug addict, well known to the police, and it was the second car he had stolen in the past week.

When an addict breaks into your vehicle they are after one thing. Cash. They have two ways of getting that cash. One is taking whatever money you happened to have in your purse. The other is by selling the stuff they find when they break in. And one of the things they sell is your ID. They get a couple hundred dollars, and someone who knows how to use your ID hits the jackpot.

Yes, I had immediately cancelled my bank cards and my driver's licence. But unbeknownst to me, when the bank reissued my client card they gave me a card with the same number. It never occurred to me to check. It never occurred to me they would be stupid enough to do something like that, especially since I told them I needed it replaced because it had been stolen. And here's the thing. That client card number is the user name for signing into online banking at my bank. I might have noticed when I next logged into my account, but I wasn't logging in from my computer since I didn't have it. I had downloaded the banking app onto my phone and since it was new had to enter the number. I didn't have anything to compare it to.

So the thief had my user name for my account. They also had all kinds of information about me. They had my address, birth date, my husband's full name, all from what they stole that day at Teapot. And here's where it gets really icky. Anton told me that what they then do is Google you. And, of course, the first thing that would come up would be my blog. Which meant they also now had my email address. The bank theft was connected to the theft that day at Teapot!

In an attempt to keep this post from becoming book length, I'll shorten the next part and just say this. After multiple calls with the fraud department, and several visits in person to the bank, this is where things stand. It turns out that after reviewing the sequence of events (the bank keeps a record of every call, every time you log in, where you log in from, etc.), what I was told in that very first phone call was not even true. They had not got in on the first attempt. They actually tried to log in eight times, no doubt trying passwords they thought were obvious using information they got off my blog (I'm sure Fergus was one of the tries!). They did not succeed.

Then they phoned the bank. And this is where I get a little mad. Well, actually quite mad. They managed to impersonate me and get the email address to my account changed. Within a minute they then changed the password, and they were into my banking. Seriously. The bank apparently let them change my email address over the phone. Yet they had placed the blame squarely on me and my computer, saying it had to be malware. And told me if I couldn't prove I had dealt with it and my account got hacked again I would be held responsible. Just typing this out makes my blood boil.

I have asked for a written statement from the bank saying it was not my fault. What I would really like is a statement from them saying it was all their fault. They reissued a card with the same client card number. They let someone change my email over the phone, knowing that all one needs is an email address to change a password. They never sent a notification to my old email saying the email address had been changed. And this is from one of Canada's largest banks. Which is why there's no point in asking them to admit wrongdoing. It's a David and Goliath story, only this time I'm afraid there's no way of slaying the giant. I'll be happy just to have something in writing absolving me of any responsibility, so if my account gets broken into again I won't be out the money.

If sharing this story saves even one other person from going through what I have it will have been worth typing it all out. If you have ID or banking cards stolen, don't let your guard down just because you've cancelled them all. And don't expect that a bank will do even the basic steps necessary to protect you, in spite of the fact that they have billions of dollars and a whole team of security experts. I'll let you know if and when I get the letter from them stating that what happened with my account was not my fault. Now, on to more pleasant topics.

Here's Lucy heading off to her first day of preschool. She suddenly looks very grown up.

Here's sweet little Oliver, modelling the Gingersnap sweater I knit for him. Ravelry details can be found here.

And Ella with her Granny's Favourite sweater, which was a late birthday present. I can see why there are over 1200 of these little sweaters posted on Ravelry. It was fast and easy to knit, and looks very cute when worn. Ravelry details here.

I'm headed to Victoria this weekend for a knitting adventure. Details will be in my next post. I'll sign off for now with this picture of the light on a spider's web, taken today on Teapot Hill. Light, nature, crafting, friends and family. These are the things I want to focus on.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A New Season

It's been awhile. So long, in fact, that I'm not even sure where to start or what to say. I think I can best sum up by saying it's a new season. My very favourite season, and I'm looking forward to the crisp, cool days ahead. To me they mean wearing wool socks, having soups simmering on the stove, and enjoying the slower, quieter pace that accompanies the fall.

The light at this time of the year is always a treat.

At times it's a brilliant backdrop to the leaves as they slowly change from a dark green to a bright red.

At other times it's dark and brooding, threatening to rain at any moment.

And after the rains, the sun seems extra bright as it pours into our cottage.

Even the animals seem to enjoy the light at this time of the year.

Some of the most dramatic moments are just as the sun is going down for the night. I came across this scene a few evenings ago as I was walking Fergus. I loved the contrast between the heavy, black clouds and the lights in the nearby cottage window.

I'm very much hoping that this coming season of diminishing light will also be one of great brightness. It's nice to be back...

Monday, August 15, 2016

August Update

Sorry for the blog silence. One of the problems with not having blogged for a whole month is knowing where to even start. It's been quite a month. First the good stuff.

There's been lots of family time, with three weekends in a row of visitors.

Lucy has, unbelievably, turned three. She loved the "egg to owl" toy I made her, and word has it that it has made it into her favoured stuffed animal rotation that she sleeps with every night.

Toasting marshmallows for s'mores was a hit.

And it's always a treat to go to the blueberry farm, especially when Aunt Alex is there to pick with you.

Also unbelievable is the fact that Ella is now a year old. She made her first trip to the blueberry farm and ate the berries as fast as she could pick them.

When you are one things like the grates on the road are endlessly fascinating.

We discovered it is very hard to get a picture of two toddlers and a baby.

Oliver is a delight. He's a very laid back baby, and loves to coo and smile.

I love how his hair sticks straight up.

My mom, brother and niece Danielle came for a visit. Ella had lots of attention while they were here!

We visited the lavender farm.

I took Danielle to the 49th parallel, which is just down the road a few kilometres from where we live. My brother and I had her cross the line and enter the US. It's one of my favourite things to do with unsuspecting American visitors. The joke was on me this time though, as there happened to be a US Border Patrol guy there, and he came over to have a word with us about our illegal entry into the US.

Now for the bad. I'll spare you the full list and just tell you about two of the unfortunate things that have happened since I last blogged. The first is Sono Nis, the publisher of my two books, had their warehouse burn to the ground on August 4th. The news story can be found here. Every book by every author they published has been lost. That includes all the copies of my books. The owner of Sono Nis, Dianne Morriss, is such a lovely person, and I feel sick for her and her husband. I also feel sick for all the authors who have lost their books. At this point I have no idea what will happen. The picture below is a screenshot from their website showing a picture of the gutted warehouse.

The second thing is this past week my online banking was hacked into. It has been a nightmare trying to deal with it. The bank is saying my computer must have malware, and that it needs to be wiped and set back to factory settings. I'm not convinced it's my computer and think it could well be the bank who has a security issue. The two pieces of good news here are that the bank has put back the money that was stolen from me, and I have a son-in-law who is a tech expert. Anton has kindly said he will deal with my computer.

I've actually considered stopping blogging altogether. It really hasn't been the best summer (supreme understatement), and I don't like to blog about negative things. I would much rather talk about things that illuminate the light like family, creative pursuits and nature. But the blogging community and all my readers mean a lot to me, and in the end I have decided I don't want to make a hasty decision that I'm going to end up feeling sorry about. So for now I'm going to be taking a blogging break. I'll be back in September, and in the meantime I will still be popping by your blogs to say hi.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Six

:: Jay was away this week cat sitting for his sister. My viewing on Netflix and Slingplayer is greatly curtailed when he is away because I am a first class coward. The series I am currently watching is The Bridge. I've mastered the art of reading subtitles while knitting, which, if you think about it, is a skill that doesn't really transfer to anything else in life. I'm almost at the end of season one and have come to the conclusion that the female police detective, Saga Noren, is almost as scary as the psychopath they are trying to find.

:: Last week my vehicle was broken into while I was hiking up Teapot Hill. To say this was a low moment would be a gross understatement. I heard my car alarm go off just as I got to the bottom of the hill, and was close enough to catching the thieves in the act that I caught a glimpse of the back of their beat-up old van as it sped out of the parking lot. The back window was bashed in, and my purse, which had been carefully concealed on the floor at the back, had been stolen. They also grabbed my favourite lightweight jacket, which really made me mad. That jacket was perfect for traveling, and had been to China, South Korea, England, Scotland, Shetland, Wales, Ireland and Luxembourg with me. I've since replaced it with a new jacket, but it just isn't the same. Replacing all of my ID and cancelling bank cards has been a major headache, and the whole thing left me feeling quite depressed.

:: The news this past week has also been quite depressing. It feels like the world just keeps tilting a bit more with each new horrific event. I'm trying to find a balance between being well informed and being an ostrich. Right now the ostrich option is looking very appealing. How do you cope with the constant stream of bad news? I would appreciate any tips you might have for maintaining a sense of balance in the midst of current world events.

:: On a brighter note, the blueberry farm is now open. I've picked at least thirty pounds so far, and hope to pick at least that many more before the season ends. I try to put lots in the freezer, I dehydrate some, and best of all we eat tons of them fresh. And I was the lucky winner of a ten pound box of berries in a draw the farm had, which was especially nice because it happened right after my vehicle was broken into and made me feel like the universe was somehow trying to balance things out again.

:: Another bright spot was my visit with Oliver and Lucy last weekend. I couldn't believe how much Oliver had changed since I last saw him. He's smiling and cooing, and I even got him to laugh a couple of times. Although I don't think Karsten and Diana believed me since they didn't hear it themselves. And Lucy had me laughing on more than one occasion! Oh my goodness, the things that come out of the mouth of an almost three year old.

:: And, of course, there has been knitting. I still have shawl fever. It's something I thought I was immune to, but now that I've caught it I can see it might be incurable. This is the Amulet Shawl, which is the second shawl pattern released in Curious Handmade's Shawl Society. It's my first time working with beads, and I'm impressed by the fact they are actually sticking on the shawl. I'm also working on the Montbretia Shawl from The Book of Haps by Kate Davies. My strategy is to work on Montbretia while the dogs are around, and the beaded Amulet after they've gone to bed for the night. Beads and Fergus are not a good mix!

Those are my six things for a summer Sunday. I hope the rest of your weekend is filled with lovely things.