February 2020

I have been a fan of Ottawa’s Andrew King for a long time. He’s a talented painter with a delightful whimsical streak, but he also loves Ottawa’s quirky side as much – if not more! – than I do. His Twitter feed and Ottawa Rewind blog (and book!) are a constant source of delight. I was aware that he’d moved to Manotick a few years back, and it’s clear he loves living here as much as I do.

Earlier this week, I literally gasped in amazement when I saw some of his latest paintings on Twitter: he’s been doing a wonderful series of some of Manotick’s most iconic buildings, but in a way I’ve never before seen them captured. Here’s a few of them:

Original artwork by Andrew King

Original artwork by Andrew King

Original artwork by Andrew King

Original artwork by Andrew King

Are they not exquisite? They fill my heart with joy looking at them. I love how they’re iconic Manotick and yet utterly unique. I especially love this one because he’s sought out and captured the former home and studio of Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson. Did you know he used to live in Manotick? One of my favourite parks for family photos is named for him!

Original artwork by Andrew King

We are, in fact, on an island here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve walked just about everywhere you can on the island without finding a lighthouse. This reminds me of my other happy place, PEI, though, so I’m okay with it. 😉

Original artwork by Andrew King

Extraordinary, right? I was so taken with them that I reached out and introduced myself (we’ve been following each other on Twitter for years, but never had reason to make contact) and asked if I could share some of the images on the blog. Andrew, who used to live in Westboro, moved to Manotick three years ago. He told me that for him, over time Westboro had lost the small-town neighbourhood vibe that he had loved to infill, traffic noise and corporate greed. In Manotick, he found what I’ve loved for the 10+ years we’ve lived here: a close-knit community where everyone smiles and says hello.

When I asked him about the inspiration for these paintings, he said, “Being a late 1800s mill town, [Manotick] has done a remarkable job of preserving that original character, which I wanted to capture in my paintings. That is this show, Views Of A Village, a place I know proudly call home and hope to for a long time. The historic buildings inspire me as does the laid back river lifestyle that the town is built on. With all these great elements it provides me with a relaxing and inspiring painting environment at my home studio…and if it’s good enough for Group Of Seven artist AY Jackson to build his studio, then I guess I picked a good spot!”

My camera and I agree wholeheartedly. 😉

Even more delightfully, he’s exhibiting his work at Manotick’s newest cozy spot to gather, the wonderful new Cafe 692 on Manotick Main Street. Here’s some bonus art with all the details you need if you want to come see the paintings in person:

Andrew King at 692 Cafe

If you can’t make it for the opening on Thursday, Andrew assures me that the art will be on display for a few weeks at least.

If you go:
Views of a Village at the 692 Café
5546 Manotick Main St
Opens February 20, 7 to 9 pm


{ 1 comment }

“Checkmate, nihilism!”

by DaniGirl on February 11, 2020 · 4 comments

in Crafty

I turned 50 back in August, and for my birthday I asked for some supplies to re-learn how to knit. I wanted to take up knitting for a handful of reasons, but mostly it was to have something other than mindlessly surfing screens in my downtime, and because I have always been a maker.

I had originally learned how to knit when I was a kid; there was a lady in our neighbourhood named Trudy who taught me, when I was about 10. The 70s and 80s were a different time – I don’t know how I met Trudy, a single woman with no kids, or how I ended up friends with her, but I have clear memories of going to her house, alone, and her teaching me to knit. The only knit item I remember ever finishing was a long red and white scarf for my high school boyfriend. I have carried with me for years a bag of yarn and scraps were supposed to be a blanket in the late 80s or early 90s, but that was the last time I’d knit, aside from teaching Tristan how to do basic garter stitch a few years ago.

So, I asked for a set of double-pointed needles and some acrylic yarn to try to make a fingerless glove pattern I’d seen on Ravelry. I’d never used DPNs before, but that’s what Google is for. (How did we ever learn things before Google?) Then I googled long-tail cast on, and M1L and M1R and how to pick up stitches, and pretty much every other thing in that pattern except the basic knit stitch that I knew. I even made a test glove before I used the “good” acrylic, which turned out to be a horrible stiff yarn that vacillated randomly in thickness and I hated by the end of the first glove.

Long before I finished the fingerless gloves, that I had by that point fallen out of love with but was determined to finish anyway, I discovered a project that made my heart sing: the Geek-along blanket. It was a series of double-knit squares that you could knit and join into your own blanket. There were squares for D&D, for Terry Pratchett, for Star Wars and Star Trek and Harry Potter. There were Zelda squares and Pac Man squares and even a Douglas Adams square. Oh yes, this was a project I had to try. So I learned to double-knit, and then when I found a pattern with a d20 from Dungeons and Dragons with a natural 20 on one side and a natural 1 on the other side of the square, I learned to double-knit while throwing different patterns to either side, also called extreme double knitting. I’ve got eight squares done so far, aiming for 24, but other projects keep getting in the way!

Like thrummed mittens – I’ve made two sets of those, plus some thrummed slippers for Granny for Christmas. I went on a hat-making spree and made slouchy beanies for my brother for his birthday, and for Beloved and Simon for Christmas. I designed (!) and made a Link (from Zelda) hat for Tristan. And I finally finished those first fingerless gloves. Though I didn’t love them, Lucas did, and he wore them all through the autumn until it was too cold for fingerless gloves. And I chose a new pattern and made a nicer set for myself in fancy Malabrigo yarn. Oh, and I made a Baby Yoda, as one does.

Projects I've finished so far

Finished projects to date – August 2019 to February 2020

But! The thing that I most wanted to try and most feared was socks. I looked at pattern after pattern. I was intimidated by the heel flap, by picking up those stitches. Eventually, I settled on a pattern that seemed both tried and true and straightforward, and I set off to make socks.

Back in the fall, I came across this quote about knitting on Reddit, via Tumblr:

“The thing about knitting is that it’s much harder to fear the existential futility of all your actions while you’re doing it. Like okay, sure, sometimes it’s hard to believe you’ve made any positive impact on the world. But it’s pretty easy to believe you’ve made a sock. Look at it. There it is. Put it on, now you’re foot’s warm.

Checkmate, nihilism!”

Checkmate nihilism indeed. I not only made a sock, I made TWO SOCKS. Take that, second sock syndrome!

So I’m, um, sort of obsessed with knitting now. I’m currently in the middle of a simple little hat to practice stranded colourwork, because why not? And I have 16 blanket squares left to make, and then (**weeps**) join. And I’ve stashed the yarn to make at least four more pairs of socks. And several hats. And I bought the pattern for a Cowichan sweater that I opened when I downloaded it, took one look at, and said, “oh crap, I am not ready for this yet. Not even close.”

But, maybe next week?


{ 4 comments }

In my last post, I mentioned that if I chose to go ahead with blogging (which I’ve clearly decided to do!) there would be less emphasis on the kids and their stories. And then don’t they just go ahead and have a week full of amazing and exciting milestones that I pretty much just have to share?

Tristan is finishing his last year of high school and has had his eye for the last year or so on a program at Carleton University called Interactive Media Design. It’s a very cool program that’s a perfect marriage of two things Tristan loves: art and technology. It’s basically the design side of video game production, with a strong foundation in the computer science behind it, and in the end a graduate will have both a degree from Carleton University and a diploma from Algonquin College. It’s a prestigious program, though, and they only accept 50 of the 500 or more applicants they receive each year. In addition to passing Grade 12 functions, which was a nail-biter for a while, he’s had to prepare a portfolio that will be weighed equally with his grades in his application. He’s just about to submit the portfolio – cross your fingers and toes! But, while he was busy doing that, he also applied to two other programs at Carleton for his plan B and plan C alternatives, and to our delight, received early acceptance this week to both of them! So it looks like we’ll have a Carleton university student in the house as of September, one way or the other.

Not to be outdone by his older brother, Simon turned 16 on Saturday and by lunchtime on the day he turned 16 he had his newly minted beginner’s driver’s licence in his hand. (Yiiiiiiiiikes!) After a few careful loops around the empty parking lot of government office, he has taken to the roads like a duckling to water.

Lucas doesn’t have anything quite so exciting on his plate, but he did turn 12 this week, and is finishing his last year of elementary school before going to middle school in the fall when Tristan goes off to university.

So in the span of a few short days, we have one child (or not-so-much-a-child) with two early acceptances to university, one baby turning 12, and one with his driver’s licence!! It’s been a proud week in parenting, and they’ve come a long way since the sweet little babies they were when I started the blog – which, by the way, happens to be exactly 15 years ago this week.

So, I guess I’m back!


{ 1 comment }