Monthly Archives: July 2007

The epic continues: Quatre jours en Montreal — Deuxieme

 Welcome back to”Montreal at excruciating length!”

Actually, I’ll try to keep it kind of snappy, but the second day of our journey was very photogenic.

The entire day was spent in the area of the Botanical Gardens and Olympic Park:

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This is the Olympic Tower designed for the 1976 Olympics, though not finished till 10 years later.  You can go up in a funicular, but at $42 Canadian for the four of us, we declined.  Instead we went here:

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The Montreal Biodome, which is built in the former  Olympic “Velodrome” .  This is a wonderful place for all ages, recreating four ecosystems of the Americas: Tropical Forest, “Laurentian” Forest, St. Lawrence Marine ecosystem, and the Arctic/Antarctic.  Each part is in its own separate area; the tropical forest warm and humid, the Laurentian Forest as though you’re walking outdoors “Up North”; the penguins and fish are behind glass, however.  You walk through and the animals and birds are essentially free-ranging.  With slight commentary, here are selected sights of the Biodome:

capybara.jpg  The capybara, the world’s largest rodent.

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Hyacinth macaws, the largest parrot, very brilliant.

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Next, the Laurentian forest, basically a temperate hardwood forest very familiar to me.  But new was this identification guide to forest poop:

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Actually, rubber replicas.  The Gothlet thought this was cool.  The Preteen and my husband?  About two ecosystems ahead by now.  Below, shed moose antler in the forest.

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And, next, BeaverCam!  These poor beavers don’t get no respect, certainly no privacy.  Maybe that’s why we got a great view of a beaver butt: “Talk to the Tail”!

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Then, the St. Lawrence ecosystem, with above and below water views.  This  and the last ecosystem made me feel as though I was in the Quetico, though with more seagulls here.  Very realistic recreation.  The air is cool and a little moist.

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another-st-l-biodome.jpgmeaning-of-life-fish.jpg (I think these guys were in “The Meaning of Life”.)

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Next, everyone’s favorite, the penguins!

There are separate Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems  (heaven forbid we mix puffins

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and penguins!)

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Boy, penguins are so graceful under water, but virtually impossible to photograph that way through glass, using natural light, especially these two who were chasing each other — as fast as a dropped stitch in nylon.

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The floaters were easier:

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The floater above and the conversationalists below are gentoo penguins.

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rockhoppers.jpgRockhopper penguins.

conversing-penguins.jpgMacaroni penguins.

emperor-penguin.jpg And the mighty King penguin, second only in size to the Emperor.  Incidentally, I’ve submitted a lolpenguin to I Can Has Cheezburger?

I’ll let you know if it appears.

CONGRATULATIONS! if you’ve made it this far!

After we had wandered through exhibits and a gift shop, we wandered through the gorgeous Montreal Botanical Gardens.  These are among the world’s most renowned and are truly amazing and beautiful.  However, shortly after this:

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the camera battery died, and you are spared another three dozen photos.  Suffice it to say that the Japanese and Chinese gardens in particular are not to be missed.  The Preteen, to my surprise, loved the gardens (I thought she’d be bored.)  We even saw demonstrations of Chinese bread dough art, much more impressive than it sounds, in the Chinese pavilion. Unfortunately, the buildings of the Jardin Botanique closed at 6 pm, as did the Insectarium in the same area; which the Gothlet particularly wanted to see.  So we promised to come back to the Insectarium another day, and went ‘home’ and had a fantastic Japanese dinner at Mikasa.   I finished a wonderful day with a little Mystery Stole 3 knitting.  Ah, bliss.

Quatre jours en Montréal — première (fear not, post in English)

Warning: Many photos, none of yarn (though the Yarn Harlot is mentioned)! I won’t be hurt if you aren’t interested and stop now. (Newly updated with diacritical marks!)

We had four full days in Montréal earlier this month as a family vacation — the first time the girls had been out of the country or immersed in another language. My husband and I have been to Montréal twice; both times because I had meetings there, but we took some time for fun. We love Montréal and wanted the girls to experience it.

When we left the travelogue intro, a few days ago, we had finally gotten into our hotel room, which was lovely and comfortable.

Day 1

I had visited Pointe à Callière, a museum of Montréal archeology and history, as part of a tour the first time I was there, and I dragged my husband back to it. Now I went a third time, as I thought it would be a great way to introduce the children to Montréal and give them a sense of history. This place is awesome. It’s in Vieux Montréal, old Montréal, and is an actual excavation of some of the oldest structures in Montréal which you can actually walk around in and also view reconstructed through time. After a multimedia presentation set in the actual ruins, you go down stairs into the ‘basement’ where you first walk on the flagstones of the 19th century building that was last built on this spot,basement-pointe-a-calliere.jpg

with dioramas,

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artifacts, a timeline, etc. all interspersed in the actual dig.dig-pac.jpg Then you go over catwalks

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to see the walls and foundations of several layers of old buildings as well as the old fortified wall (actually two walls with rammed earth in the middle, to withstand shelling and cannons), the oldest paved streetscobblestones.jpg

And an old sewer. Before you go ‘yuck!’, I have to tell you a story about this sewer.

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This dry culvert is all that remains of a river! Before the first French settlers came, when this area was a fishing camp for Iroquois and other First Canadians, there was a small river joining the big river, the St. Lawrence, at a point of land (“Pointe à Callière”!). The river was named the St. Pierre or the Little River by the settlers. Well, as ‘civilization’ occurred and the town became fortified and walled, the river became the dumping ground for sewage and garbage, then was paved over and funneled into a culvert, and now the culvert is no longer attached to the sewer system; the “Little River” just does not exist any more. Wild. You can see the process in the dioramas. There are future plans in progress to open up the other end of the culvert to be able to walk under Montreal as part of an expansion of the museum. Cool. I’ll just have to go back again in a few years!

One particularly enjoyable and unique part was interactive exhibits which portrayed actual former residents of Montreal through time; one French, one English, one (I think) Dutch. You could ask them selected questions on a touchpad, though occasionally it glitched. They really did look like ghosts:

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And similar technology was used to portray a marketplace scene in the actual archeological area of the marketplace; artifacts that were still in situ, like a child’s marbles, were used and highlighted in the scene with sights and sounds of the marketplace near the port (you could put on headphones for English).

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Seagulls are the same in any language, though.

There’s a wonderful view from the top of the museum:

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I love archaeology (I have my bachelor’s degree in anthrolopology) and enjoy browsing history, architecture, etc., so this museum is right up my alley.

Then we spent a while in the gift shop (“we” meaning two of us; I found that I and the Gothlet see museums much differently than my husband and the Preteen; we savor, they hit the high points), and had lunch here, in Vieux Montréal, the Café St. Paul:

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Very good food and friendly service.

We had poutine! I admit, I was not 100% sure what it was, but I knew Stephanie the Yarn Harlot had mentioned it, so took the plunge. It was great. (For those like me not previously familiar with poutine, it’s fries with melted cheese/cheese curds and gravy. Perhaps not heart-healthy, but very tasty!)

Then some of us needed dessert cafe-bistro-place-royale.jpg and stopped down the street here, at le Café Bistro Place Royale, where I had a “Milkshake Royale” — espresso, vanilla ice cream, and maple sugar — mmmm!

A brief digression on language:

It is fascinating that, although Québec has not been under French dominion since 1760 (1760! Before the United States were even the United States!), in some ways, it is more assertively French than France. Given Québec’s struggle not to lose its French culture and language in the larger Anglophone Canada, I suppose it’s natural. But, par exemple, stop signs:

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In France, stop signs like this say, “STOP”. But not in French Canada! “Arrêt” technically is the word used for a train or bus stop, where you get off. But at a no-doubt-particularly tense time in Québec/Canada relations, it was decided that stop signs in this area would say, “Arrêt”. Fascinating. However, what prompted this digression: milkshake is milkshake, even in Montréal!! I guess milkshake is not an originally French concept.

We wandered around Vieux Montréal and le Vieux Port for the rest of the day:

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A very narrow street.

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This, the Place Jacques Cartier, somehow is one of the defining places of Montréal for me. It’s always a happening spot. As we walked up the hill, someone else was being filmed doing the same thing:

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It’s a mystery to me what that was all about.

Also on the Place, this restaurant with a great name:homard-fou-restaurant.jpg

The Crazy Lobster.

Past the Place Jacques Cartier, here is a lovely fountain outside l’Hotel de Ville de Montréal (sounds nicer than City Hall, and looks nicer too):

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Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal. I believe this is the church whose architect was so inspired by designing and building it, that he converted to Catholicism.

Then back on the Métro (amazingly efficient!) and to bed. Whew. I think we worked off that poutine.

Whine and Cheese(head)

Warning: Whining from a Cheesehead follows!*

*Beth, did you know we cheeseheads were in Wikipedia?
I was not feeling good yesterday; 4 days of a summer head cold and a full-blown migraine and my allergy shots yesterday (which always make me feel a little weird — or weird-er, I guess) and a week solid of not enough sleep and a medical procedure involving sedation earlier in the week, and a mentally and physically exhausting day at work the day before yesterday. So I left work without finishing everything I should have (though unfortunately I still didn’t leave early), and came home and tried to crash. But couldn’t. So in the evening, the girls, my parents and I went to a Community Theatre production of “The Music Man“, one of my favorite musicals (I didn’t even know it was going to be put on in this area when I recently misappropriated one of its many memorable songs). The play distracted me, anyway, and was overall very well done.

Today, I had to work, but I at least caught up with what I had left from yesterday, and the cold is a lot better, as is the migraine. Still need more sleep, though.

So would you like some cheese with that whine, madame?

But tonight was a Beautiful Night, and despite the laundry and cleaning which desperately needs doing, I took time for me and my needles and sat outside. Mental health imperative. And I took some pictures. So here’s some knitting! (And about time, I must say!)

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Here I am all happily set up to continue the Vanilla Version of MS3, just starting the second chart of Clue 1. It’s going to be kind of like re-reading Harry Potter 7 — I won’t race through it with the same kind of excitement and anticipation — but I can savor it, on the other hand! Here’s my chart management strategy (slip both sheets into one page protector and turn it over in the middle of the row, a good time to ‘read’ my knitting anyway), with highlighter tape; here’s my bead management for these smaller 8-0 beads, my Addi crochet hook 0.75 mm; and my Addi Turbo Lace needles US size 4, which I am finding perfect for this!

Close-ups of my little ‘bead box’:

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I love this little box, and it has a story. I bought this as a souvenir in Southern France, when I was there on a high school French trip. I think perhaps in Nice. The top seems to be abalone or something similar, and the embossed metal bottom looks like brass?? It hasn’t tarnished in 25 years. It was sold as a pill box; I remember the elderly gentleman in the shop asking me to be sure I really wanted a pill box! I just wanted it to hold little things. It’s perfect for its current use; the top fits positively and securely, and there are no gaps the beads can escape through, and it’s weighty enough to stay put and not to fall over when the top’s open. (I have too many beads in it right now, I was — as usual — overpacking for my recent trip and didn’t want to run out of beads! It’s easier to skewer the beads with the crochet hook if there’s only one layer of beads, of course.) And I love these beads; milky opalescent with gold inside. Gorgeous, and for just a few dollars!

So all this stole love tonight helped me feel better!

More knitting from the last 2 weeks:

Finally visible progress on Ribby Shell, which I knit a little bit on here, and there, and in Chicago O’Hare airport, and while awaiting the medical procedure, and at work today, and at the play intermission last night.

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And the Preteen’s Fern Sock in its natural environment:

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Had to re-do the second toe of the Gothlet’s socks:

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Jeanne asked about this yarn. This is Schachenmayr Micro Color, a microfiber (acrylic) sportweight yarn. I don’t think this colorway is available any more, as I got this as an orphan from elann.com a couple years ago (I’m a sucker for orphan skeins). The colorway is called “Tutti Frutti”. I’ve lost the ball band, but elann has everything I’ve ever ordered from them documented on my account, which is either scary when I add it all up, or really cool like now! Schachenmayr also makes Micro Fino Color, which is apparently a fingering weight. I like this yarn even though it’s synthetic; it’s easy to work with and soft but not splitty. Good for my sensitive skin girl.  The colors are certainly cheerful! These are anklets because I only have one skein; I weighed the first sock as I knit it and stopped when I had used half the yarn.

I hope to put Montreal together in blog form tomorrow, with (highly selected) photos. (I managed to take over 800 in 5 days….). But in the meantime, let me leave you with a garden photo, sadly absent lately (this would have been Eye Candy Friday if I’d been with it yesterday):

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And a Saturday Sky this morning:

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And a Saturday Sky with bats tonight!

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Finished with Four, and Ready for More!

More Mystery Stole 3, that is!

Here’s the shortened version, up through Clue 4:

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Up at the top is a row of eyelets, then a PLAIN KNIT ROW.  That’s just above a Melanie-recommended lifeline on a right side row.  What’s happening?  Where do we go from here?  I am bamboozled!

Now I get to knit it again in the vanilla laceweight version while impatiently awaiting the next clue and the theme revelation in a week!

Photographed next to the stole is my mobile bead management system:

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That’s a round tea bag container (it’s weighty enough not to blow away when I knit outside, or tip over easily; and the top fits very securely).  The crochet hook is an Addi (comes with a cap), 1.0 mm, which I got from elann — perfect for these 6-0 beads.  (I’m using a 0.75 mm hook for the 8-0 beads with my laceweight.)

I did knit while on vacation, in addition to MS3:

gothlet-socks-in-progress.jpg Gothlet socks in a microfiber, sock #1 started in Montreal, knit on the plane, and finished at home.

washcloth-wip.jpg Basic washcloth started in the car on the way home, practicing and timing myself for DishRag Tag, starting soon!

And Ribby Shell continues, but it’s in Black Hole mode, so it doesn’t look any different, thus no photo.

I also knit on The Preteen’s Fern sock, but no pics yet; I might frog part of it a second time, we’ll see.   That’s what happens when you design things, eh?

More vacation photos tomorrow!

Coming Clean! and What I Did On My Vacation, part 1

Sorry, almost no knitting pictures today (although I am on the LAST ROW of my cheater’s version of Clue 4 of Mystery Stole 3! But now it’s too dark to take a picture; so that will be for tomorrow).

Except this, finished right as I left for vacation:

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Remember my ‘dirty little secret‘?

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This little baby hat was stained in one area when it, and I, were caught in a deluge. I was about to bite the bullet and cut out the offending part and reknit it. But I wasn’t looking foward to it. Sarah-Hope had the suggestion of brushing the stained part with dilute bleach, and I was hesitant, as I could see me getting it on the colored brim. But I decided to take the chance, being very careful. Since the cotton/Lycra yarn is a true white white, I thought it might work. So, holding the hat upside down in the sink, and rinsing promptly in that position, I bleached it without ill effect to the brim, so yay! And thanks, Sarah-Hope!

This was knit in elann Esprit and Esprit Print, a cotton-Lycra yarn much like Cascade Fixation, in white and the Canyon Sunrise colorway. The hat is kind of made up as I went along, but you’ve seen hats like this before: knit a 10 stitch strip in garter stitch to desired length and weave or seam together; then pick up stitches around the edge and knit upward as you would for any hat, decrease at the top according to your favorite pattern. In the prior post, I show it with the brim flipped up for a newborn size and down for a slightly older infant. The socks are Cat Bordhi‘s Baby Life Ring Socks free pattern. The pattern didn’t exist yet when my kids were babies, but a mother of little ones whom I knit these for says they’re the only socks that stayed on her baby. (The right choice of yarn, one of the Lycra-type blends, is really important for this, I think.)

So please allow me to share a few pictures from the beginning of our recent trip to Montreal (but I won’t be offended if you bag out):

First we went to Minneapolis, to pick up the girls from camp:camp-bus-return.jpg

and take my brother and sister-in-law out to dinner for my brother’s birthday:

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At this restaurant, by the way, the waiter was fascinated by the two-circular sock knitting technique, so he got a tutorial in addition to his tip! He was really into it.
That and this saturday-sky-july-14.jpg are Saturday skies, by the way.

We stayed overnight near the airport, to park n’ fly. There was a woman sitting outside knitting when we left, but I was on a deadline and couldn’t stop to check out her project. Minneapolis is a knitting mecca, I think. Even in the all-too-brief summer!

We then flew through O’Hare, over Chicago

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and over Lake Michigan (I love the way the clouds merge into the far side of the lake shore, it looks like some lake out of a fairy tale):

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Wouldn’t these be great colors to dye yarn?

Anyway, we flew from the Des Plaines River to the St. Lawrence Seaway:

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On arrival at our hotel, there was an internet communication glitch; though they had our reservation, they had the wrong number of people, and there would be a delay for our room to be ready. So we took a walk in the neighborhood, basically downtown Montreal (“Centre-Ville”):

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We were neither diplomats nor did we have a car, but it was nice to know we could have parked here if we did and we were.

These were some sporting fans celebrating something:

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I later found out that they were cheering Chile’s victory in the FIFA U-20 World Cup soccer (football) quarterfinals, which were being held at the Olympic Stadium. I also found a couple websites where you can identify flags by their appearance. (I knew I’d seen that flag before, but it just was not coming to me.) (Chile just won third place, BTW.)

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Love this little guy holding up an overhang.

And here’s some good, albeit blurry, advice, seen on a women’s sporting goods store window:

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“Dance, sing,

use dental floss

and travel.”

How great is that?

Mystery Stole 3 Cheater’s Edition

Mystery Stole Monday!

Why, you ask, is this the Cheater’s Edition?

Well, it’s because despite the Deathly Hallows, despite vacation which delayed my downloading Clue 4, despite laundry….

I’m almost done with Clue 4! Sixteen rows to go.

Why, you ask again, does that make this the Cheater’s Edition?

Here’s why. This is how it looks with 16 rows to go:

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See the lifeline in the picture? That’s at the end of Clue 3. Wasn’t this a longer than usual clue?

Well; not if you’re shortening the stole! Skipping from Row 218 to Row 303 speeds things up considerably.

I’m shortening the stole not because of height reasons (I am in fact the average American woman height-wise), but because I am knitting the black version in fingering weight yarn, which will make a wider stole/shawl and also a LONGER one than laceweight. Based on Melanie’s information in clue 4, I calculated that without shortening, my shawl would be approximately 8 – 9 feet long — no lie. So, as I don’t want it to drag on the ground, I am shortening it as I suspected I would; the designated shortening step will take about 11 inches off the length. I can alter things a bit with how I block too, of course.

So, I’m almost done with Clue 4 despite being a fairly average speed knitter and all my other distractions. But to make up for it:

I’ll knit the full pattern, no shortening, in my cream laceweight as we all wait for Clue 5 and the theme revealed! I have to say, I am happily bemused at the latest twist in the pattern (the last 8 rows are intriguing as to what’s happening next).

Here’s a view of the beads as they reflect the evening sky tonight:

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They’re a gunmetal gray/black but are picking up the deep blue in the sky. So pretty!

In other news of the realm:

The Gothlet has a new pet!

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Well, not really, though not for lack of asking. This is a tiny inchworm-like critter, which she dubbed “Squeegee”. No, hon, Squeegee wants to stay outside. Yes, I think you should let him go.

Lastly, a picture from someone else’s garden: Parc Mont Royal, to be precise. Wild roses encountered on the walk up Mont Royal….

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Returning to Reality

Well, having Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows come out right after we returned from vacation was not destined to help the transition back to real life! Or back to blogging, for that matter!

I finished Book 7 early yesterday morning, and it was truly excellent. Now the Preteen has been buried in her room almost all day (that’s not unusual, but the lack of pop music coming from the room is!) and rumor has it she’s on the home stretch of the last book now, too. Daughter #2 is re-reading the 6th book and will be ready to start book #7 shortly. My husband is not a part of all this — yet.

Anyway, blogging and cleaning has suffered, though laundry has been — well, not DONE as in finished, but at least laundry has happened! And even knitting has been temporarily put aside while The Book was read. Now back to reality. And work tomorrow.

It will take me a while to distill our recent trip to a hopefully not-terribly-boring blog account; and I regret to say I never found a knitting shop in the areas of Montreal we were in! But I had little time to look, given being there with my whole family only for a few days.

So: knitting news:

Here’s Mystery Stole 3 right before starting Friday’s clue, which I only got to download Saturday, but then didn’t do anything with until after reading The Book:

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This is my primary, fingering weight version in black; but while on vacation, I also knit a very little in my laceweight cream version:

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However, I thought I’d messed it up so put it away to deal with when I got home. However, when I got it out today and compared it to version 1.0 —

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— I don’t think I messed up after all! (Good thing, because I hadn’t put in lifelines yet.) It looks like the black version, I think just a little goofy-looking right this moment because of where I am at in the pattern.

I came home to these in bloom:

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Stargazer lilies. Can’t you just smell them?! Very richly fragrant.

And lastly, here’s yesterday’s Saturday Sky:

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It’s good to be home.