Thursday, 28 June 2012

Union Ubiquity. . .

You can't escape it - Union Jack and Jubilee madness are on display in every store. T-shirts, tea cozies, bags galore, even nail files are all sporting the flag.  Tons of jubilee goodies too.  Marks and Spencer's has Coronation Chicken crisps and some quite lovely celebratory biscuit boxes (I'm going shopping later for this one full of shortbread).

But my favourite has to be this special edition jar of Marmite. I even love the name change!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Departures and Arrivals. . .

So I left Canada on the last day of spring (and in the middle of a sticky heatwave), and arrived in the U.K. on the first day of summer and welcoming me home was this lovely card knitted by my Liverpud's mother.

I also arrived to lots and lots of rain. Up in the north, they got as much rain on Friday as normally falls in the entire month of June. It was raining torrents as we drove up to Cumbria for Woolfest.  But nothing stops determined knitters.  There were several breeds of sheep.

And some of my favourite designers.

And of course lots and lots of wool!  I bought mostly all British  - some lovely alpaca/wool mixtures, a sweater's worth of Aran in a deep chocolate brown, two skeins of a gorgeous variegated Bluefaced Leicseter/Gotland mix from Jillybean Yarns in a colourway called Mountain View (all greens/greys/purples), and some Habu wool/stainless steel.  And yes, I did go way over my budget but my stash is on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and what's a girl with no willpower to do?

In particular I love this Gloucester Tweed from Fyberspates.

I also couldn't resist buying these enormous 25mm needles. I think some big throw pillows are in my future.

It was still raining when we headed home, but we stopped at what must be the most amazing service station in the world - certainly the best I've ever pulled into. The Westmorland Tebay has lovely toilets, great lattes, a full cafeteria with decent food, and a shopping area with a good selection of books, children's toys, bags (nearly succumbed but held off), and best of all lots of gourmet goodies and a butcher's.  We picked up some local lamb shanks for the slow cooker. Just amazing.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

New Knitting Mags. . .

While my books are all en route somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, I'm indulging in some new magazines that have just hit the stands.  Noro now has a magazine!  Who doesn't love knitting with Noro? Who hasn't found it very tricky to get just the right pattern that will best highlight all those amazing colours? It's all very exciting and there's tons of inspirational patterns in the magazine. Look at this gorgeous cowl from this premiere issue:

I also can't resist the new 2012 edition of Jane Austen Knits.  Knitting inspired by literature just seems so appropriate and the magazine contains some very pretty patterns.  And I bought the latest issue of Knitscene Accessories, simply for this very cute Check Slouch hat that I'm determined to knit for this fall, despite my seeming inability to knit hats that will actually fit my head.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Interlocked Narratives. . . Literally!

I'm not a big fan of e-books, but one of the positive things to come out of the rise in digital is a resurgence of interesting and innovative book design. It's pricey (125 pounds) but I love this special edition of Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell, that Penguin UK has just published.  See more photos of how these interlocked books work at the Caustic Cover Critic blog here.   I think a similar treatment could also work really well for Carol Shields' novel Happenstance.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Future Telly. . .

One of the things I'm most looking forward to in my new life in England is the BBC.  And NOT having to wait weeks, months, sometimes years before BBC shows finally make it across the pond.  Very excited to hear about several upcoming productions.

As we approach the centenary of WWI, there are going to be lots of literary adaptations or series set during those years and I'll be tuning into all of them. I'm thrilled that in the works is a dramatization of the life of Vera Brittain. She'll be played by Saoirse Ronan which I think is a great choice. And  Tom Stoppard is already adapting Ford Maddox Ford's Parade's End which I also can't wait for.  And at the end of this article about the Brittain project, there's a mention of an upcoming film about Noel Coward and his 1950s Las Vegas cabaret tour ( I have the album - it's terrific).  And who is playing Coward?  None other than Colin Firth!  Who can totally pull this off - Where the Truth Lies wasn't a great film, but his performance as a showbiz performer was completely convincing.

Thanks to the ever informative Great War Fiction for the link.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sheepy Fun. . .

One of the things I'm most excited about in my move to England is the proximity to lots and lots of sheep.  I just adore them.  I'll be barely off the plane before heading up to Cumbria for Woolfest 2012 - can't wait.  Tons of sheep, alpacas and even angora bunnies.  And wool - lots and lots of wool!  Also, my favourite designer Kate Davies will be there.  Her blog, Needled, is such an inspiration and she is just so, so talented.  An example is her latest design that she's launching at Woolfest.  Just take a look at this - brilliant, just brilliant.  It's made my day.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Abbott at the AGO. . .

I've been slowly saying goodbye to the city by visiting favourite old haunts.  This evening I headed over to the Art Gallery of Ontario where I've spent many, many happy hours, especially since the renovation. It's still one of my favourite art galleries in the world.

I wandered through the rooms containing some of my favourite paintings:  Florence Carlyle's The Tiff,  Edwin Holgate's Nude in the Open, the distinct originality of David Milne's work, the Alex Colvilles, and all the Lawren Harris and other Group of Seven paintings (I've always preferred the Canadian North in art as opposed to reality - fewer bears and mosquitos).

But I was also pleased to stumble upon one of their temporary summer exhibitions - Berenice Abbott: Photographs.  

I love being able to explore an artist's entire career all at once and there were ample examples of this American photographer's work from all her creative periods. There were the portraits of artists and writers - James Joyce, Djuna Barnes, Jean Cocteau (and his amazingly long and bony hands) - from the 1920s when she was working with Man Ray; the amazing photos of New York City from the 1930s when she was documenting the city's architecture; and the fascinating photos from the 1950s when she was hired to illustrate science textbooks and experimented with shooting scientific concepts, for example capturing the trajectory of bouncing golf balls.  Really beautiful and haunting photos.  The exhibition runs until August - well worth a visit.

And of course the staircase at the back of the building still offers one of the best views of downtown Toronto.

Monday, 11 June 2012

What To Do In A Heatwave. . . Knit of Course!

One of the things I won't miss about Toronto is the summer heat and the accompanying humidity and smog.  Fortunately I'm camping out at my Mum's this month before heading to England and she has air conditioning.  We've been watching lots of Blue Jay games on TV and I've been trying to finish up a few more knitting projects.  Currently on the needles is this baby blanket that I'm knitting for my boyfriend's brother and wife who are expecting in October. I've adapted a snowflake eyelet pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (my go to book for inspiration), adding a seed stitch border and using Cascade 220 Superwash wool.  It's knitting up quite quickly.  I plan to add an I-cord border in a bright colour to punch it up a bit.

And I finished my second Color Affection shawl/scarf using Diamond Luxury Alpaca Lace.  It's very, very soft and cozy. Already working on a third (yes, it truly is that addictive a pattern - put any three skeins in close proximity to each other and you immediately start casting on another).

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Let Us Eat Cake (and lots of other goodies). . .

I've been overwhelmed by all the emails, cards, farewell lunches, dinners and good wishes from friends and colleagues as I embark on this big move.  In short I've been doing nothing but eating for the last week or so.  Look at the lovely British tea party that was thrown for me at work (thank so much JJ!!!!!)

And this wonderful key lime cake, which followed a delicious scallop and pasta dinner with lots of great conversation (thanks RC!)

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Back to Blighty. . .

The signs are everywhere.  This is the huge banner hanging outside the Gardiner Museum:

And browsing through my local bookstore, I came across the latest issue of Granta:

Incidentally, on their website there's a great ode to British Theatre by one of my favourite writers - A.L. Kennedy.  You can read it here.

But it wasn't really until last night when I attended the Art of Time Ensemble's terrific concert in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, that the enormity and excitement of what I'm doing later this month, really hit me.

And yes, while I realize that the current fascination with all things Brit has a little more to do with the Jubilee and upcoming sports events than my own personal life,  it's all resonating just a little stronger because  (takes DEEP breath) - in less than three weeks, I'm moving to Liverpool!  I'm going to be in the city (along with thousands of other fans) when the Beatles celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first appearance at the Cavern in August.   I'll be able to watch the Olympics in the time zone in which it's taking place.  I'm going to be a freaking two hours away from London by train.  I'm only a 90 minute drive away from the Lake District.  I'm about 20 minutes away from a Marks & Sparks Food Hall.  I keep pinching myself.

I can get excited now because the chaos and stress of May and Project Move is finally over.  One piece of advice if planning an overseas move - give yourself more than two months.  Much more if you have a huge book collection and you can only take about twenty percent of that overseas.   But that's a post for another time. At the moment I'm just enjoying these last few weeks in Toronto, visiting old haunts and spending as much time as I can with my family and friends before setting off on my new life adventure.