Sunday, July 31, 2011

Welcome to our world

We thought it might be fun  informative to try to show you (through the magic of Photoshop) how we're seeing the world right now. The sight in each eye is perfect. It's the failure of the 6th nerve to stimulate the muscle that should move our left eye, that keeps us from focusing on one image. Seeing 2 images at once is called 'diplopia'. When we got up this morning, without our glasses, this is what we saw. Twice the Cassie!

Now, imagine that moving and changing as you scan the room. Feeling queasy yet?

We must keep busy. We must not dwell on bad stuff. We can knit and so we shall knit!!!

Remember the fuschia lace scarf we started way back in January?? Well, it's done!!

It's about as long as we are tall.

We had the tiniest ball of yarn left. After we blocked it, we were slightly dismayed to find the edge is a little wavy. We decided to work a single crochet edging along both long sides. It is much better now. The only caveat we have for anyone who might be thinking of trying this pattern is that you should cast on VERY loosely or else cast on with a slightly bigger needle. Ditto, cast off loosely. That way, you can block a nice wavy feather and fan edge to both ends. We love the yarn, merino and silk. We love the colours. We love the drape and the lacey pattern. For details on the pattern and where we got our yarn, go back and check out this post.

We're still working on our royal blue mohair/silk scarf. We're into the second ball of yarn. No picture because it looks pretty much like the last time we showed it.


We Talk Back

We got a lot of feedback last week regarding how to handle telemarketers. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook) we haven't had a call since we plotted our strategy. Maybe that means it's working?

To Kate: We always go along and answer to Mr. Hubby's Last Name, too. It's easier that way. Thank you for sending the Microsoft warning. Good to know we're not just paranoid.  

To Heather: We LOVE the idea of asking those dolts which credit card to charge their call to. Genius!!!

To Tami:  You husband is our hero. That's exactly what we're going for.... a little "slow"!  (If not completely nuts!!) AND the Dolly Parton details? Perfect! We're only a little disappointed that it might take us 30 minutes of our life and STILL she won't hang up???

Looking for Advice...... We didn't have a telemarketing call per se, but we did have one of those recordings. You pick up to dead air and after saying "Hello" twice, this woman's voice starts listing the names of stores in a sing-song voice and then warns us something about our credit card. We've had this one many times and the absence of a live person to torture is limiting. You can't be rude to a recording. Well, you can but why bother? Slamming the phone down means nothing. Anybody have any ideas? Has anybody actually ever pushed "2" to talk to a live representative? We 'd love to know how that went. So far, we've never dared.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No more Mrs. Nice Guy

Grandma Coco has always felt sorry for those poor souls who call you at supper time. You know, the ones who are trying to sell you something you don't want or want to shame you into sending some poor orphan to the circus or want you to answer a poll. We've always been polite. The Kingdom of Coco is a very civil place where good manners are highly prized. We figure if someone is forced by economic necessity to work in one of those call centres, they have enough problems of their own.

We signed up on the Do Not Call Registry. That ought to be the end of things, right? Well, no. Not quite. We've been told (quite boldly, in fact) that political parties (those who make the rules) and charities can still harrass us. That doesn't seem fair. Also, any business we've already done business with can continue to call us.

We've also begun to get an interesting call from someone for whom the rules mean nothing....someone who wants to know if we're beside our computer. Huh? This one piques our interest (although we have twice hung up on him). This morning, on Canada AM, we learned that this one is a direct attempt to gain access to our hard drive. Now, that's downright malicious. (For anyone who gets this call, the caller is NOT from Microsoft and he's not trying to help you out in any way. He's a thug....a criminal. Just hang up.)

However, we've decided just hanging up really isn't enough.

We remember reading about a fellow who engaged telemarketers in conversation where he pretended he was having a heart attack....or about to shoot himself.... anything at all to put the shoe on the other foot. As appealing as that sounds, it is our worry that we'd find an ambulance pulling in our driveway and that just wouldn't end well.

No, we've decided we're just going to play along. We're going to attempt to tie that fellow up on the line as long as humanly possible by playing dumb and asking stupid Pardon? Could you repeat that, please? or what's the weather like where you are? Are you married? What colour shirt are you wearing? All the while, we intend to blurt out random words like "Butterscotch!" and "Zipper!". We'll ask if they've heard the Word of the Lord yet and maybe even read from know, the really riveting stuff about someone begetting someone who begat someone else. Of maybe we'll read from the Rice Krispies cereal box we have next to the phone. You get the idea.

Grandma Coco says "Rise up, everyone, and join us! Fight back against the oppression of the unbidden telemarketer and the injustice of the shameless scam artist!!"

Our goal is to torture that creep until HE hangs up on US! How long do you think it will take?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just what the doctor ordered

Stitch Markers and other assorted wire work

We had the most wonderful weekend. We had guests! Adult guests and adult conversation. (No! Not THAT kind of adult conversation .... just the kind where you're not constantly being interrupted by a high-pitched voice demanding something.)  It was lovely.

Yes, it was unmercifully hot but we re-discovered the pleasures of ice cubes and G&T....and mint! An excellent addition. There is fresh mint aplenty in the flower beds of the Kingdom of Coco, free for the plucking. We had good food and good company and good conversation and a whole lot of laughter.

As well, Grandma Coco and her guest played with THE BEADS!!! Such fun. We started out to make simple stitch markers for LM's knitting because she's knitting with a very ornery ribbon yarn and really needed to keep track of her stitches. That led us into wire work. As we all know, that's the Slippery Slope! As if any of us needs another hobby. (!)  LM is a potter. A real one, with a wheel and a studio. She's going home to make some more clay beads so the next time she visits we can really go wild!!

We were having so much fun, we forgot entirely to take photos. What a shame. LM took 6 lovely stitch markers home with her.... all unique....all beautiful. They're made specifically for size 8 mm needles. These are the largest stitch markers we've ever attempted. So, although we don't usually knit lace on such large needles, we made a couple, too. (We're so easily led, as you all know.)

The red one should look familiar since that's an extra bead from our white summer cardigan and the green one is made with rolled paper beads we rolled ourselves and one of the MANY rabies/license tags we accumulated over all the years with our dogs and cats. We've saved them with the thought that one day they'd come in handy. We think that day has arrived.

For a good tutorial on making stitch markers, we like this one on the Bad Cat's blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Wave Coping Strategies

A fan. A seat. A quiet activity. Headphones and podcasts. Beverages with ice. A furry friend.

We continue to knit on the Open Twisted Rib Scarf. That Knit Picks Aloft laceweight is very choice. Did we mention that it's 75% mohair and 25% silk? There are 246 yards of it in a 25 grm. ball. We have 2 of them. They're the Celestial colourway. (We also have 2 in the Cranberry colourway.) The silk doesn't take the dye the same as the mohair so it makes a very attractive mottled yarn.

We found the stitch pattern in an old book of knitting stitches. It's a multiple of 5 stitches plus 3 and shown worked flat. However, we've also worked it in the round for the cuff of socks. It's a simple one to figure out for working in the round.

We are chart lovers. We think you're either someone who appreciates charts or you're not. We do. We've therefore tried to chart this stitch pattern and we offer that here, for anyone who might like it. (We haven't had much experience making charts so if you find an error, we'd be grateful if you'd please let us know.) For this chart, we've marked EVERY row. So, start with 1 and work to the left. Then, for the 2nd row, read the chart to from left to right. Simple.  To print the chart, left click on the image and it should enlarge for you to print it successfully.


We talk back!

To Kate: Not sure if you're a chart lover but if you are, we hope this helps. We'd love to see your finished scarf when you're done.

To Sophie: You are very young to have picked up the fine art of sucking up so well. However, we were thinking something red for you for Christmas. :)

To Stephanie: Glad to know you are already exposing little Sophie to the finer things in art/knitting/quilting blogs!! :)  It's never too early to start indoctrinating the next generation of craftsmen.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Scarves + Socks = Sanity

When we were kids, we remember every once in a long while being bored. Not often, but occasionally.  When the long summer days just seemed endless and we'd dragged out and exhausted every activity we could think of.

Mom taught us to knit during one such episode of ennui. Ditto sewing. When we were old enough, we'd head off to the library by ourselves, trudging through the heat only to trudge home again with huge stacks of books. We'd lie in the tent which was pitched in the backyard and read for hours.

Alas, although we're old enough, we can't just trudge to the library and right now, we can't drive. So, today we're knitting. We have tons of yarn in our stash ... sock yarns and lace weight yarns. We even have enough DK weight yarn for a lacey summer sweater. But for now, we've started a pair of socks for Mr. Coco to play tennis in and a lovely scarf in a simple 4 row repeat. For whom, we're not sure. Maybe it will be a Christmas gift. It's really not too early to start knitting for Christmas, is it? If you're reading this and you like it, it's also not too early to start sucking up.

We do love mohair!

The socks: Scheepjes Invicta Extra, Colour 1401 (off white and pale grey), 3mm birch needles, 64 stitches with a Tubular Cast-on (our favourite), 2 inches of k2, p2 ribbing, then 3 inches of seed stitch rib pattern... Rnd 1: Knit, Rnd. 2: [K3, P1] Repeat all around..... We're planning an afterthought heel.

The scarf: [Kate, avert your eyes.....this will be too much temptation for you and we don't want to be responsible for you going off your craft diet!] Knitpicks Aloft mohair yarn, Colour Celestial, 2 balls, in Open Twisted Rib stitch pattern. 3.25 mm needles. Cast-on 63 stitches, knit 3 rows even, then reserve 5 stitches in garter stitch at beginning and end of each row (for an edging). Always slip the first stitch of each row. When we've worked up both balls of yarn, we'll end with 3 rows of garter stitch.

There are way worse things than sitting in front of a fan on a hot day and knitting with lovely yarns and good needles while listening to a favourite podcast or 2.


We Talk Back!

To Monika: Yes, we turned your postcard over because you said not to blog about it but really, we couldn't see why you wouldn't want it shown. It's a lovely beach scene and we really liked the whole concept.

To Kate: We're not that fussy about Earl Grey tea either. We like a nice strong black King Cole tea from New Brunswick. They seem to know tea  in the Maritimes. We are not embarrassed to admit that, in our quest for a good cup of tea, we once bought a brand (Typhoo) because we caught a glimpse of it on Coronation Street (on a shelf in Dev's shop). It's good!

To Reflections: Glad to have you back!

To Linda: Thank you for your good wishes regarding my eyes.

To Diane: Yes, you and me both! I'm relieved your lovely postcard made it through the postal strike. At one point, they were saying there were 40,000 pieces of mail caught up in the back log.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We've got mail

Lots of stuff in our mailbox this week.....

First, and maybe prophetically, we received a birthday card from an old friend. The message is embossed in braille. Some of you may not know that Cheryl is a certified braillist for the CNIB and did, at one time, volunteer her time to transcribe books into braille. The sender of the card is someone we met while doing the braille course. That's one of those happy accidents on the road of life where we meet new friends along the way. Her card arrived before our eye problem. Once our problem developed we did talk to Mr. Coco about how fortunate it is that we had already learned braille. Unfortunately, we read braille by sight. (We know. Weird but true.) To learn to read the dots by touch would be the second half of the battle.

Also in our mailbox, fabric postcards that Canada Post was holding hostage. Finally freed, they found their way home. First there was an envelope from our new friend, Linda, from Dublin, Ireland. She included a whole treasure trove of fabric squares, ribbons, buttons and trims for future cards all in the colours of the Irish, white and gold. Thank you, Linda!! Also, she mentions that the notecard she sent is the one she based her postcard on. So, the postcard is a lovely interpretation of a landscape photograph with the reflections of trees in the water. The back of the card says it's Roundstone Bog, County Galway. Beautiful! And well done, Linda!

Also....Diane's Summer Road Trip card which she says is her first attempt at thread painting. Very nicely done, Diane! I hope I'll get to see Dana Point, California, someday, too.

Monika's Lake Life postcard arrived as well. Always a joy to receive a card from Monika. This time, we've displayed the back of it so you can see how our post office does business.  No fooling around!They cancelled the stamp with a black magic marker! Thanks, Monika. Love the way you made the froth of the waves with couched fluffy threads.

Elaine's Beach Bum card rounds out the lot. So cute!! Elaine's been going through her own problems this summer and this card was made before that. We hope she'll find her footing again in time.



Now, in an effort to find OUR footing....or at least to try to carry on as if we will, we've made a little doodle for what we're planning to call our "Yakity Yak" segment. Remember that old song that had the chorus "Yakity Yak, don't talk back." ?  Well, we want to talk back. Whenever we want to respond to someone's comment, we're going to do it here in our Yakkity Yak spot. The doodle isn't great....we have no depth perception after all and everything's still blurry.....but it's a start. Check out the weirdness in our left eye. That's intentional. Creepy, or what? :)

BTW, does anyone know why a lack of depth perception would inhibit one's ability to spell???? We just realized we said we were 'greatful' for the emergency eye clinic. Really? Greatful??? Please forgive us.

To Kate.....what kind of tea do you like? We'll make sure to get some in. We spent a good part of last winter perfecting our recipe for scones after we saw a feature on Regional Contact (CBC Ottawa) about tea time at the Chateau Laurier Hotel. We'll have to bake some for our next tea party. We are so happy you have fun here in the Kingdom. Fun is what we're all about.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Talking back

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
 Due to our current blind-as-a-bat state, there won't be much new artistic content except for some stuff we've been sitting on and some highly suspect experimental pieces. We thought this might be a good time to respond to some of the lovely comments we've received of late.

Blogs are wonderful places to record thoughts and images in a diary style but we're never sure how to respond appropriately to the comments. Do people come back to see us say "Thanks!"? Not sure what we have to say would be worth the trouble to re-visit. How do other bloggers handle this? If you know (or have a suggestion) please just sing out in the comments. In the meantime, here we go:

To Arlene and her crew of Lovely Ladies (including S & P) ....thank you so much for reading along. It is so weird (and cool) to know that someone on the other side of the world is looking at our little doodles.

To Sherri..... We are so happy you're posting to your blog again after such a long time. We're looking forward to seeing what you get up to. That's a great story about the fake menu for the Roadkill Café. We doubt anyone would want to eat there. :)

To Monika and Kate .... Thanks for commenting so faithfully. We're so glad you've both had good experiences with the health care system (but we're very sorry about your baby, Monika. We didn't know.)

To Michelle...Thank you, too, for being a regular contributor. We think you must understand best about the eyesight thing since you experience a variation of it, too. We think you're very brave and we follow you on Facebook, so we see some of your struggle. You are an inspiration.

To Régina.... Thanks for the compliment on our wedding gift quilt. As for the 'like' button....hmmmm...We're so clueless. Anybody know how to put a 'like' button on a blog? We guess if you click on the Facebook icon, you'll end up on Grandma Coco's FB page and you could 'like' the post there? Thank you for liking it in the first place. :)

And, finally, to all the lovely people who read this silly blog ..... whether you leave a comment or not .....

Thanks for dropping by!
You're always welcome in the Kingdom of Coco.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Our own royal wedding

The Gig
Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
 A while back we mentioned that we were making a little white sweater to wear to an outdoor summer wedding. That was the long-anticipated wedding of Coconut Number 3. That joyous occasion took place last weekend and what a wedding it was!!!  A beautiful bride and a handsome groom. A picture perfect day full of hope and happiness and promise.

The Gig (detail)

Now, we can reveal what we gave the happy couple. And, really, what else would we make for such an occasion? A quilt, of course! But not just any quilt. No. We made a quilt that reflects the personalities of the bride and groom who are both performers.

Quilty details for the discerning..... hand appliqué, hand embroidery, machine pieced borders, hand quilting. Approx. double bed size. Cotton fabric. Original design. Howling dog up front inspired by Duke. Cassie approved (as you can see in the first photo).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where did you all go?

It's almost 2 weeks since our last post. And what a couple of weeks it's been. Did we go on a holiday? Sonewhere far away and exotic? Did we have fun? Well, we guess the answer is....a little of both....and a whole lot of not fun right in the middle.

We'll try to bring you up to speed over the next couple of days but for now the big news is that Grandma Coco has another crush. She has fallen head over heels for a certain neuro-opthalmologist who confirmed the 6th Nerve Palsy diagnosis and fitted Cheryl's glasses with a prism so she can actually see again!

Grandma Coco thinks she's the Big Cheese around here but it's really Cheryl who does the nitty-gritty drawing ....and that requires eyesight. Two weeks ago, Cheryl started seeing double. Oh, only a tiny bit for the far away stuff, at first. It wasn't too worrying. We thought maybe we were just a little tired. But then, the images got further apart and affected closer-up objects. Finally, it was so bad that the whole world was distorted and it made her dizzy and nauseated to look at it. Of course, as always happens, this occurred over the Canada Day weekend. We thought we'd just wait for the Monday morning and call our optometrist but we ended up in Emergency anyway at the Kingston General Hospital on the advice of the Telehealth Ontario phone line nurse.

For all those nay-sayers who criticize our health-care system here in Canada, Grandma Coco says "Put a sock in it!" That was not (and never has been) our experience. If you are having a crisis, you get seen right away....and we mean RIGHT AWAY. Once they eliminated the possibility that we were experiencing a stroke, we were seen next day in the emergency eye clinic. We didn't even know there was one but we are very greatful that there is. We had a CT scan with contrast dye that same day and they arranged for an MRI of our head and eyes on Friday. That's very fast! The neuro-opthalmologist was away but we saw him on Monday when he returned. For all of you who don't live in Canada, we don't want to brag but you should know this was all free of charge to us and everyone we saw was wonderful....caring and competent and patient. We are very lucky that the Kingdom of Coco has such a great arrangement with Health Canada. :) We wish everyone, everywhere had the same good fortune.

In celebration of the return of our sight (functional sight, if not yet completely normal sight) we point you toward this past Sunday's post on Underneath the Juniper Tree blog, where you will find a little poem that we wrote and illustrated BC (before the crisis). For a while there, we thought this might be the last we'd get to do. Looks like that won't be the case. Here's to better days ahead!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Scary stuff!

Roadkill Café   
Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
Do you remember being little and loving the delicious possibility of scaring yourself silly with ghost stories? We do. Did you love all those scary movies with oh-so-terrifying themes like birds that threatened whole communities? or aliens that had to be overcome? Or maybe you're a fan of the good old-fashioned fairy tale with all the blood and gore of wolves threatening little girls who only want to visit their grandmothers? Well, we've found something you might just like. There's a new online literary magazine (FREE!) for kids from 9 to 99. It's called Underneath the Juniper Tree. (Have you read the Grimm's fairy tale The Juniper Tree? Holey Smokes! We only read that one recently. It's fairly strong stuff for little minds. Just sayin'.)

We're pretty light-hearted here in the Kingdom but there's some dark stuff lurking beneath the surface. Cheryl is keen to mine that vein of darkness. It should be interesting to see what comes up. Are you brave enough to want to see?

The July issue  of  Underneath the Juniper Tree is available now. Our drawing is on page 51.  Check it out ... if you dare!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Catada Day!

By Royal (GC) Proclamation, today is
Catada Day!

That means it will be a Cassie day for everyone!


We will rise when we have slept enough

and we will play until we’re tired and need to sleep again

or until we’re hungry and need a snack,
whichever comes first. 

Furthermore, our beloved monarch, Grandma Coco,
in her infinite wisdom, has declared the following:

There will be no fireworks,
because that’s just a complete waste of money
and scary for the kitties.

No crowds, because that’s just a pain.

And no visiting dignitaries,
because, frankly, who needs ‘em when we have Cassie?

Fascinators are optional

There will also be, as usual, full maid service
and universal health care for all!

May you all enjoy a Cassie day no matter where you live.

Happy Catada Day, everyone!