Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the hockey hats

I finished all three of the hockey hats for my niece and nephews. My brother's kids all play rep hockey, and this sport dictates their lives for most of the year. How they do it is beyond me - I have enough trouble keeping up with one kid's school, swimming and basketball, let alone three kids with multiple practices, games, tournaments, team meetings, etc. However, they do it and enjoy it. Who knows? My niece may be the next Cassie Campbell, my nephews the next Gretzky or Patrick Roy (one's a goalie).

(One plays for the Marlies, one for the Ojibwa and one for the Storm, in case it's not obvious)
I've mentioned this before - my brother will probably assume that I am available to now make one of these for each of the players on each team, and it's not gonna happen. Reason one - no thanks, no appreciation. Reason two - see reason one. Now, I don't knit for the accolades. I knit things for people I love because I love them. Hell, I even knit for people that I just like. I don't ask for, nor expect anything in return, except a thank you. Nothing huge, two simple words. Now, for the most part, most of my family really appreciates the hand knits. I think they finally understand why I'm knitting all year, and it's fun to see some recognition on their faces when they open a gift, and remember seeing it in progress at some point. THere are some members of the family that REALLY appreciate the knits. My FIL is in love with hand knit socks. And my MIL hand washes them, air dries them, and even darns them! Talk about care. He gets a new pair every Christmas, birthday and usually through the year. Each year a SIL gets a lace shawl - this year, J is getting an alpaca Icarus (12 rows left!). Delicate? you bet. Needs special care? of course. WIll she look after it. Absolutely. Does she deserve it? No question. Next year, it's the other J's turn. She was always anti-shawl - something about the "old lady" look of them. Then she saw Icarus, and even unblocked, and still cramped on the needles, she fell in love. I'm looking for the right pattern, and I'm picturing a heathery grey merino lace for next year...
Then there's my brother and his wife - if it doesn'thave the "right" label, it's not worth it. Of course, the "right" label seems to change each year. I made them socks once. Only once. They opened them, and couldn't understand why I bothered. Yes, she actually asked me why I bothered. I don't bother any more. Hubby is happy - he get's more socks, now. My mom loves her socks so much, she is knitting them herself. But I will continue to knit them for her. She's my Mom.

OK, enough about the family. Lucky seems to have jumped the gun and is already guessing my grand total of hand knit Christmas gifts. So here's what I'm going to do. There will be a contest - JUST NOT RIGHT NOW! FIrst of all, I have to determine prizes - yarn of course. Sock yarn for sure, unless a lucky winner is adverse to sockknitting. But there will be other stuff. But give me time to determine the prizes, as well as time to complete my gift knitting. Later in December we'll pull it all together, K?

Tomorrow, something that will shock you. Yes, it's something I'm knitting. No, it's not something that I ever saw myself knitting. Think really big ass needles. Lucky was with me when I bought it, and anyone I was at Kitchener at may remember the yarn. And Tove? If you're reading this, no giving it away just because I bought the needles from you...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

answering questions

I've got a few FO's to show, but no pictures. I've finished the three hockey hats ofr my brother's kids. (is it funny to anyone else that I originally typed "bother" instead of "brother"? He can be one, sometimes...) Two are blocked, one is not, so I should have pictures tomorrow. But since I have nothing else today, I thought I would answer some questions that have popped up.

Lucky asked if I had given the Victorian Lace book to hubby to give me for Christmas. Well... it's actually still sitting on the dining room table. I may have glanced through it a bit...

Tracy asked how I got the colour variations when dying the rayon chenille for the scarf.
FIrst off, I wound the yarn onto my niddy noddy to creat a hank about 36 inches around. I tied the hank in 4 places, then made up my dye baths. I put a package of brown (maybe tan? I can't remember which Rit I used. It was definitely a lighter brown) in the water as per the directions. I then dipped about 3 inches of the hank into the dye bath, and let it sit for about a minute or so. (I rigged up a coat hanger contraption to hang from the kitchen cabinets above my stove). I then dropped a few more inches of the hank into the dye bath, and repeated this to about halfway up the hank of yarn. I then flipped the hank over, made up the grey dye bath and repeated the process. What this does is create a variance in the depth of colour - the ends are darker, since they spent more total time in the dye baths. so the colour cycle goes something like dark bronze, medium bronze, light bronze, light pewter, medium pewter, dark pewter, medium pewter, light pewter, light bronze, medium bronze and back to the dark bronze. One thing about chenille - it almost "seizes" when it gets wet - it seems to contract onto itself. I didn't want to yank it to stretch it, not knowing the tensile strength of rayon chenille! But it does relax again when it dries. Next time, I'll take pictures. I did this before I started blogging, so there didn't seem to be a need to document the process.
Here's a picture of the leftover chenille - the water bottle gives you an idea of scale (or you can use my son's arm as he eats a banana in the background. Yes, he thinks his Mom is strange for taking pictures of her yarn...) The pewter and bronze ball is a little deceiving - is a centre pull ball, so there is a large empty space in the middle, but there is still a ton left. The blue/green ball to the left is for another scarf for another SIL. These colours shine with the rayon fibre - they remind me of the Carribean with the sun shining on it. THe smaller ball is solid pewter, but again, the rayon, and the way the light relects off it makes it seem slightly variagated. THe colours shift slightly when you move theyarn around. I may keep this for myself. (Yeah, project # 6,777,435 on the list...)

Tracy, To be honest, I never thought about doing the feather and fan on the machine. This chenille is about a heavy worsted weight - it probably will run through my LK-150 OK, but I didn't try. Now you've got me thinking about doing it for the next one! I really don't use my machine nearly enough - I use it for great expanses of mind numbing stockinette, but I have not had the time to really experiment with it and hand manipulating the stitches. Plus, one of the things I like about knitting by hand is knitting lace. I guess I'm really a process rather than product knitter.

Marie left a nice comment about the woven "teacher gift" scarf, saying she was a few years away from having to worry about teacher gifts, as M is still too young. Marie - it comes up quicker than you think! Just yesterday, I was wrapping my boy in a blanket and laying him in his crib. Now he's almost 8, and skateboarding with his friends. If you want more info on the kits, let me know and I will get it for you. Heck, I can even get the kits and send them to you!

Tracy also mentioned that Grumperina had tried the azalea doily as a scarf (from the Modern Lace knitting book). I knew that, and remembered she got frustrated by it. I still like the pattern and would either make it in a very lightweight lace weight so that doubling it wouldn't cause too much bulk, or only make it a partial circle. I just thought the way the petals flowed outwards was so pretty.

Lucky was wondering if I would show all the Christmas knitting before I wrap it. I will - I'm just debating if I just do it, or let you guess the final total. Maybe there will be prizes for those that guess the closest! Hmmm... a contest... maybe...

Monday, November 27, 2006

adding to the Christmas pile

It was a productive weekend. I'm still not sure where the time is going, but I did come out of it on Sunday night with some sense of accomplishment!
My sister-in-law's chenille scarf. This is a rayon chenille that I bought at a machine knitting show earlier in the year. It was this huge cone of "so-white-it's blinding" rayon chenille for $10. I'd heard horror stories of working with chenille, so I figured for $10 if it was brutal, there was little to be lost. I wound this into different hanks of different lengths to attempt dying the rayon. Koolaid was out, as it didn't take to the rayon, and since I didn't have any acid dyes hanging around, I channeled my tie-dying days of the seventies, and broke out the rit dyes. I used a brown and a grey - dipped half a hank into the brown, then the other half took a quick dive into the grey.

Once it all was over and done with, I had this pewter and bronze-y looking hank of chenille drip drying on my clothesline. Once it dried, I was pretty happy with it.

Then came the actual knitting of the chenille - I was originally thinking of an evening type wrap - open and lacy, very drapey. Not a good idea with chenille. Tossed out the 9mm needles. Started again with 4.5mm, and decided on a scarf. Still wanted a lacy type, but I knew it had to be kind of tight. Enter feather and fan. I think it turned out pretty good.

The rayon really shines, and the metal like colours work well with this sheen. I surprisingly experienced none of the "worming" so prevalent with chenille yarns. Maybe I got lucky, maybe this particular chenille (rayon) doesn't worm. Maybe I just hit on the right needle size, right pattern combo. All I can say is, I'm happy with it. I still have a ton of the pewter and bronze, plus another huge ball of a blue/green dye job, and a smaller one of solid pewter. CatBookMom, if you want to try some, let me know!
I also started and finished another scarf - this time on the machine:

Black bamboo yarn - knitted diagonally and fringed. Start to finish, about 2 hours total. (It actually took closer to 5 hours, but I was watching curling, and helping Son with some computer stuff as well)

The colour here is off - it is really black - deep, ebony black, that shines.
This stuff is nice! Very drapey, silky feeling, and a dream to run through the machine. The diagonal stitch helped combat any stockinette curling, but a quick steam block with the iron really flattened it out without taking away the sheen and drapiness. However, I'm not sure I would want to hand knit the bamboo - can we say splitty?? Just moving it from needle to needle on the machine was frustrating due to the splittiness; I can't imagine how annoying it would be to handknit. But... a beautiful hand and drape, to be sure.
Oh yeah, I'm also the world's nicest wife. I even bought a gift for my husband to give me. You know, so he doesn't have to spend as much time shopping. I know how he hates shopping so this is really doing him a favour. Really it is! And I haven't even looked at it. Much.

Friday, November 24, 2006

birthday booty

(No, my butt didn't get bigger. At least I'm pretty sure it didn't...)

Hubby and Son came through huge! Although Victorian Lace Today didn't make it, these did! (Hubby was suitably apologetic about the Lace book - he went to two Chapters stores, and nada! I have a promise for Christmas, but I may end up getting it before then - I'm impatient like that.

I'd heard good things about the Tracey Ullman book, and it will make a nice addition to the collection. And the Barbara Walkers! Swoon! I'm one book away from the complete set, and it's a bitch to find. But to get these two, well, let's just say, Hubby can avoid housework for a while! (Who am I kidding? He still has to do his share...)

There was also some cash from my Mom and my in-laws, and the usual gifts from assorted siblings - lottery tickets! Other than that - a pretty quiet day. I kept it pretty quiet at work - only my immediate boss knew, and he respected my wishes to keep it quiet. Lots of phone calls and emails from friends, so all in all, a good day.
Special dinner and cake are promised for Saturday - weekdays are just way too hectic to plan things like that around our place.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

missing the Florida sun

To all my American friends, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. For the past few years, I have been down in the States, celebrating right along with you. My Mom is normally in Florida during this time of year, and I have always spent this week with her, usually with a girlfriend, as it was our “Girl’s Golf Week Getaway”. We golf, we drink wine, we shop, I knit, she reads, we sit by the pool, Mom spoils us, it's a pretty good week. Hubby goes fishing with the boys for a week in June, so this evens it out. Unfortunately, Mom’s surgery last month kind of put the kibosh on her trip, let alone mine. So I am home for the first time in many a year during the American Thanksgiving week. My Christmas shopping is going to be seriously compromised by this, but at least I won't have to deal with Canada Customs as to why my golf bag weighs twice as much as it did when I entered the States...
On top of that, I am seriously bummed about not being away this year. This is one of those times when everything aligned, and a National Holiday fell on a pretty nice day...

Please note that I wouldn't normally post this - this is just another day, and I don't want or expect a fuss. But this morning, when my son woke up and the first words he said were a sleepy "Happy Birthday, Mom" - well, you'd have to be a pretty cold person not to appreciate that, so I felt I would share it. Plus no one here at work knows and it's nice to keep it that way. But sometimes, you just have to tell a few people...
Also, keep our fingers crossed for a new book waiting for me tonight - I've dropped enough hints (and emailed enough links) about Victorian Lace Today...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

my life meme

Stolen unabashedly from Cara

I guess it's pretty self-explanatory, but I should explain something. I loved my Dad, and he died 11 years ago. Although it seems like I do, I DO NOT spend my days moping around, remembering the minutae of our lives. I do lead a fairly normal, reasonably happy life, and do not dwell on the fact that my Dad died. Would I like him back? Absolutely. Would I trade the past 11 years? Not completely.

In other (knitting) news: I have almost finished another hockey team hat, and have started the third - that will take care of one family. Still have a few more things to start/finish/come up with ideas. 33 more days? No holidays in there? Yeah, I may be in trouble...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

teacher gifts

Okay, so I totally sympathize with teachers at Holiday time. How many "World's Greatest Teacher" mugs, soap sets, and chocolates can one person endure? (Although, I'm thinking, chocolate is not so bad...) Son's school has a nice idea - we donate a book to the school library in the teacher's name - basically we send in the money, the librarian buys the book, and on the last day of school before holidays, each child presents the book to the teacher for the library. But... there still seems to be gifts to the teacher from the kids. When Bro and I were kids, my parents always gave our teachers wine. We were very popular kids. SO, I have done the same for the most part. But I started something in kindergarten that is going to haunt me. Yup, handmade something. Teachers talk amongst themselves, and I am now marked. Son's grade one teacher still raves about the Kid Silk scarf, and Kindergarten! Well, he had the same fabulous teacher for Jk and Sk, and she still goes on about the felted clogs and scarf. So, how can I not do something for grade two teacher? But this year, I have come up with something that I am very proud of - and Son did it, not me. My LYS had these kits - very reasonably priced and perfect for a 7 year old to do with some supervision.

It's woven! The kit comes with the black open weave base, and a ball of bulky yarn (Italian, no less). Simply cut the yarn to length and weave away. I cut, and started the weaving, and son finished it himself. I think it's very pretty, it's incredibly warm, and best of all, Son can proudly give it and say "I made if myself!" His teacher is very nice, and will appreciate the fact that the child did it himself.

The scarf will wrap a bottle of wine - I REALLY like this teacher!

The best part? My LYS also sells just the black open weave base, in scarf size and stole size. We have two stole sizes at home, waiting to become Son-made gifts for each of his grandmothers. Oh yeah - he's getting huge brownie points this year...

And, because CatBookMom tagged me... (although I think it's funny that a Canadian is deemed not to have an American accent) Of course I don't! And truthfully, I don't think I have a Canadian accent either - I don't say "aboot" for about (and I don't really know anyone that does...), and I never say "eh?" (sorry to break the myth...). I do however break out the french accent after a few drinks - it's subtle, but Hubby says it is definitely there...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Monday, November 20, 2006

I should tidy more often...

The things I find when I start tidying up! In order to find room to store Christmas gifts, I had to clean out some stuff in our "home office". I use the term lightly because, although we have two (sometimes three) computers in there, and all kinds of files, it really is more of a dumping ground. Hubby has grand plans of a home office, but until he learns that papers wont file themselves by osmosis, and you actually have to open the file cabinet to put them awa instead of piling them on top, well, things won't change much. I am not absolved of any of the blame either. I have patterns, yarn, magazines, wool, books, yarn, UFO's, wool, plans, and even some wool piled up in there. WIlly-nilly is the term most often associated with my piling method. Yesterday, I went looking for something. To be honest, I'm not sure what, as I got sidetracked when I came across a stash of books I hadn't seen in a while. Now, I have a lot of craft books. A lot. And a lot of them are knitting books, mostly purchased quite recently, but these three have been around for quite awhile. Even though I learned to knit as a kid, and knit on and off for since then, I really didn't become as obsessed with it like I am now until a couple of years ago. So these books predated the obsession period.

The Modern Lace book makes me laugh - how modern is it to decorate your house like this?

Do people even have settees anymore? Now, don't jump on me about this - I love antiques, grew up with them around and have many in my house. But I draw the line at antimaccassars, since the men in my life don't use maccassar or any other hair oil. I guess I like my antiques hard - i.e. wood pieces and such. I like my upholstered pieces a little softer and less rigid.
I do see a use for many of the pieces in this book, however:

This azalea doily would translate beautifully to a small scarf - just big enough to cover the neck and tuck into a coat collar...
There are many lovely lace pieces in this book - the square pieces of the luncheon set - (My MIL would LOVE this - she actually has luncheons when her bridge club comes, but I'm not knitting a dozen lace placemats...). I'm glad I unearthed it.

Next is a book that Lucky would be all over, I'm sure.
(Okay, Blogger is not being cooperative - there should be a picture of The Swedish Mitten book here)
It's not for the faint of heart (i.e., if you MUST follow a pattern word for word, line by line, don't use this book.) There is a VERY basic mitten pattern given at the beginning of the book with sizes for womena nd children. But each of the patterns is simply a picture of the finished mitten and the chart (and the charts are drawn by hand). You have to figure out how to apply the chart to the pattern in your size. Plus there are tons of cuff options - again, you have to put it together yourself. But, if you are comfortable with this, there are some really pretty patterns - florals, geometrics, all kinds of stuff.
(Okay, I've fooled Blogger! here's the book)

And a sampling of the inside:

The Homespun Handknit book is also a good one for small projects. The patterns use the designer's handspun wool (ergo, the title), but most of them are of standard grists, so you can substitute a worsted, DK or fingering to suit. No pictures of this - camera battery died at this point last night.

I really should organize better - certainly my patterns and books and such. The stash is pretty fluid, and moves around alot, but I do have plans eventually. I'd like to replace the shelving wehave in the "office" at the moment - I want bookcases, and some CD towers, which I have discovered are the perfect size of balls of yarn. and not too deep that I would lose things... The plans are made - it the actual execution of said plans that keep stalling. One of these days...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Still with the silly SPAM titles…

Fresh floozies want more hot lollipops (doesn’t everyone??)

Dirty cowgirls ride enormous weapons (I can’t say I’m really surprised…)

Was waffle be caloric (my English teacher would have conniptions over this grammar!)

So, I do actually have knitting content – I finished the blue cotton socks, and finally blocked the Fat Head Hat. (I will never look at this and think of it by any other name. I hope the recipient hates it so I don’t have to look at it much…)

I took a good look at my Christmas list and compared my “hope to have done for a gift” list to the “finished at ready to be given” box of stuff. Yeah. A little short there. I may still get it all done, but I think Hubby is going to get shorted again this year. He always gets the half done socks with a promise. He never really minds, because everyone else in the family gets knitted stuff once a year, and he is generally gifted much more often throughout the year. So he’s happy enough.

I do have a few more hats to get cracking on, especially those within the same immediate family. Can’t have one kid getting something that the others aren’t!! I may lose my “favourite aunt” status, and that’s not acceptable to me…

Looking forward to the weekend – for some reason, sleep has been a valuable commodity this week, and the demand has far exceeded the supply. Of course, son’s basketball game has been rescheduled tomorrow to 8:00 am. You read that right. That is not a normal time for a Saturday morning. But we will be there. It’s also MIL’s birthday tomorrow – wonder if Hubby remembers…

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Still in the closet…

I’m still heterosexual, and still happily married, in case anyone thought I was switching teams. I’m still in the BLOGGING closet, people. I was kinda worried that my Aunt, when she went to Stephanie’s talk in Ottawa would find out about this here blog. But Aunt is too shy, and didn’t approach Stephanie. “She was surrounded by people, and I thought I’d let her be” was my Aunt’s comment. But, Steph did inspire Aunt to pick up the needles again – she bought Steph’s book, as well as sock yarn and needles. I hear she’s been back to Yarn Forward a few times since – can we say the beginnings of a stash?? So, Steph didn’t out me, and I can continue merrily along is virtual anonymity…
The funny thing is, after that, she was talking to her daughter, my cousin J. J lives in Montreal, and when her Mom started telling her about it, J broke in and was all “you mean that Harlot woman that was on CBC Radio?? I heard the interview!” It also seems that J is now inspired to pick up knitting again as well. She and I had both learned as kids, and she’s thinking of picking it up again. I’ve even got my Mom back at it. The last time I was there, I gave her some of my sock yarn (yeah, I have a little extra…) - after the week I spent with Mom during her recovery, she had watched me knitting socks, and now she wanted to pick it up again. So, she’s got the yarn, the pattern and the needles, and she’s off! We’ll convert the Muggles, one at a time…
My Homage to Franklin
Since I’m a little light on knitting pictures today (the Fat Head hat is done, but needs to be blocked), I thought I would share a picture of the wall beside my computer at work. Franklin makes me laugh out loud – I own two of his shirts and a mug, and if he ever puts the “P2tog” pattern on a t-shirt, I will SO own it as well…
Most people at work have work-related stuff on their walls – Me? Not so much…

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

root for the home team...

Well, I've finished another self-designed hat. My young nephew plays for the Toronto Marlies organization - he's a pretty good hockey player, so I thought I'd make up something special for him

I've sent the picture to my brother to see if it's "cool" enough (My God, when did I lose my own coolness metre??). Of course, if it's good, I expect the following exchange between me and bro:
Bro: It's great. Can you make 25 of them for the team?
Me: No.
Bro: C'mon - whip them up on the machine like the scarves you made for Niece's team last year. I'll pay for the yarn.
Me: No. This is done by hand, can't be done on the machine, and they would take too long. Let him be unique on the team.
(Side Note - the scarves? I knit 20 scarves for my niece's hockey team last year - ok, they were done on the machine, but still. Striped, time consuming and ack! Red Heart. My Mom wove in all the ends and blocked them. Niece verbally thanked her when Mom brought them over. I never heard a thing. Nada. Zip. Not a thank you to be heard. Bro gave a cheque to my Mom for her to mail to me (We live about an hour or so apart). He didn't even mail it himself!!!! I've heard nothing from my Niece or her team. Yeah, I'm ready to do THAT again.)
Bro: Give Mom the pattern - she can make them.
Me: No. Mom hates knitting Fair Isle and has better things to do with her time.
Bro: Silence. Whatever. thanks for nothing.
Me: Sigh. (note to self - ask Mom again to convince me that Bro and I are related).
One more Christmas gift done!

Fat Head Hat
Yeah, so I decided to whip up a hat using the same pattern (folded hem, etc.) using up some stash Briggs and Little yarn. Since I wasn't doing Fair Isle, and it wouldn't pull in as much, I reduced the number of stitches by 20. Still, this baby is HUGE! So much for the 8 year old intended recipient! I've got a huge melon atop my shoulders, and this thing swims on me. Who knew the B&L would change the gauge so much? Other than being coarser, it's pretty much the same grist as the Smart or Heilo I was using before. I guess my FIL is getting himself a new hat for Christmas...

At least I know to reduce the stitch count again for the next one...

And just because this made me laugh out loud...

Your Boobies' Names Are...

Wonder Woman and Batgirl

EDITED TO ADD: (after reading comments from a few days ago...)
Holy Crap! Stephanie reads this!

Monday, November 13, 2006

time management

How do some women do it? Family, Work, Time for yourself? I was looking around the house yesterday, and the "stuff" is starting to pile up. Alot. Young son has toys and stuff. I have wool (just a little). Hubby has, well, I'm not sure what he has, but there seems to be a lot of it around. Tools in the kitchen. Papers in the living room. You get the picture. Lately, Hubby has been saying things like "We have to get rid of stuff. It could be a fire hazard". Then he leave a set of screwdrivers on the kitchen table. We're on day six of the screwdrivers on the table. I wtched him MOVE the damn things a foot over so he could put the salad down last night. Still, I said nothing. I didn't have the heart to get into it last night, especially since the screwdrivers are now sitting on top of a pile of knitting magazines a books. Sigh. I guess he means the royal "WE". i.e. ME. He has plans to get rid of stuff, but to be honest, he's really bad at it. He can't do a little at a time. He's an all or nothing kind of guy. So, if he wants to clean out a room, it takes him all day, and he ends up making a bigger mess in the rest of the house. He can't just clean out his desk, he has to do the whole office. And he gets distracted. I love hime to death, but I'd really rather he didn't try to help! I had a week's holidays planned for this month - originally planned to be spent in Florida with Mom, but since she's not there, no use in going. So I was going to spend it digging through the CRAP in the house. But then, at work, it was suggested that, with all the time off I've taken lately for Mom's medical stuff, etc., it would be prudent to maybe not take holidays right now. If anyone else had suggested this to me, I would have laughed in their face. However, it was my immediate supervisor, a great guy I would do almost anything for. (I know the grammer sucks in that last sentence. oh well.) He's gone to bat for me a lot, and I respect him, which says a lot. So, my time off has been put off until January or February. There's not many people I would do this for - this guy is one of them. I really hope he leaves this company, becasue he'd take me with him!!
So the digging out will have to wait. My weekends are busy enough just trying to keep up with everything. Hubby is working a ton of hours (the joys of owning the place), so he's not around much. Plus, he just doesn't do anything for Christmas. It falls to me. Pretty much all of it. Yesterday was his sister's birthday. I reminded him 12 times to call her. He didn't, and on principle, I didn't because I think he should have. But the fallout will come my way that we "forgot". I didn't and I will make sure his mother knows it was his fault. (She won't hear that part - her boys are perfect, and in her generation, that kind of thing should fall to the women. grrrr.)

And, given the choice of cleaning out a room, or playing a game with my son - well, maybe it now makes sense why the house is the way it is. He's way more important to me that an organized house.

Knitting to come - I've finished another self-designed hat!

Friday, November 10, 2006

office-boy nose-leafed

What does the title mean? Easy - it's today's winner is the stupidest spam email subject line. And there was a tight race today! Seriously, I thought our compnay had some kind of spam filter, yet I get upwards of 50 spam emails every day. I don't need to "increase my manhood" - I don't even have "manhood"! Nor am I interested in your stock tips, pharmaceuticals, rolex watches or other crap you think I am stupid enough to buy from some unsolicited email! I mean, really, who beleives this stuff? Are there really people sending their personal information to the Fifth Third National Bank because they have detected a problem with your account? Who can't remember which bank they have accounts with?
Enough ranting about email idiots. I actually love email - spend a fair bit of time with it all day -mostly work related, some personal, and far too much time deleting spam - which I have to check before deleting since it seems our so-called spam filter at the office likes to delete emails from some of our major customers and suppliers. Nice.
But, it's the weekned, and one that is so very, very needed. Time spent with family and friends. I've finished another hat - for one hockey playing nephew, and hope to get some socks done and some more hats at least started. Who knew? Hats seem to be the gift of choice this year.

And as a side note - there is the outside chance that I will be outed to my family (at least a part of it) as a blogger in the next little while. My Aunt (the one who came down to stay with my Mom for a week after surgery) lives in Ottawa and was inspired to think about knitting again after seeing mine. I told her about Stephanie's talk at Yarn Forward, and it seems the store is only a few minutes away from her house, so she called for a seat, and was planning on going last night. If she got to meet Steph, she would have brought up our familial connection and if Steph posts about it, well my Aunt Deny is computer savvy enough to find this here blog. The one thing in my favour? My Aunt may be too shy to meet Steph, so I may be safe for a while yet...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Guild Meetings

I’m not sure how many people belong to Guilds, or knitting groups or just have a regular Stitch and Bitch group that they attend. I never saw myself as someone who would join a group like this, but almost 2 years into it, I’m hooked. (Actually, I was hooked by the second or third meeting, but anyway…) You know, it’s nothing remarkably special – just a group of ladies (in some cases, men as well, but we seem to be a bit estrogen heavy in York Region) that get together and share something that is important to each of us. Our love of knitting. We arrive, we greet one another, find a chair, sit and take out the project du jour. Show and Tell is always interesting – members showing off the fruits of their labours, It’s cool – there is such a range of skill levels out there. And, I find that people that were so convinced that they couldn’t do something are urged to try it, and surprise themselves when they complete a new project. Perfect example – Susan, a member of our Guild was convinced that socks were beyond her - “I’m just a beginner”. After a few meetings, she got up the courage to try a pair. A month later, she was showing off her first pair of socks! The downside of this was witnessed later, in the shop, as she added to her stash some balls of sock yarn. Ah, another one sucked in! Last night – I sucked her into the ruffly scarf abyss! I showed off my purple and black one and green one, and she was all over them! Although she said she wasn’t buying anything, she walked out with a few balls of the On Line Solo!
We also get guest speakers – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Fiona Ellis, Maureen Mason-Jamieson, Amy Singer, Wellington Fibres, to name a few (apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone). And of course, last night we were graced by Wannietta Prescod, North America’s faster knitter.

I tried to get a good pic of Wannietta and her knitting style – she freely admits it’s unorthodox. Wannietta, I apologize – the only picture I got of you actually showing your knitting style – well, let’s just say you’ll thank me for not posting it. Sorry!
CatBookMom was curious as to how she can knit so quickly – the working needle is jammed into her thigh, the needle with the stitches sits perpendicular to this at the top. All the stitches are crammed near the tip, and off she goes – faster than I could believe. For her to get a room full of knitters to basically stop what they are doing to watch, you know she’s good! She throws the yarn, and was still faster than the Continental knitters – mind you, Tove hasn’t used straight needles in years, so that was a bit of a detriment to her.
Wannietta also talked about her job as a professional knitter – knitting samples for designers like Fiona Ellis, and a number of pattern companies – as she said, it’s pretty cool to see a magazine cover and say “I knit that” not just the pattern, mind you , but the ACTUAL SWEATER that is in the photograph.
Thanks for coming Wannietta – we had a great time!

This year, we are thinking of branching out from just talks to maybe doing some workshops – we’ll see. It’s a lot of work coordinating workshops, and since I do a lot of it, my real jobs always gets in the way!
By the way, I think I have a new member coming soon – one of my son’s basketball coaches, Bonnie, always sees me knitting at practices and games – when I told her I was taking off early last night to go to my Knitting Guild meeting, she was like “A Knitting Guild? Here? WHERE? WHEN?” I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing her soon…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

First Tuesday of the month!

Yes, that means a meeting of the York Region Knitting Guild. And this month Wannietta Prescod is speaking. I can’t wait. I took a class from Wannietta at the Downtown Knit Collective’s Knitters Frolic in April. It was fantastic, and I’m looking forward to seeing her again. Tonight is just a general talk, about her and knitting and stuff. In the New Year, I can see having her back doing a workshop – she finally made buttonholes make sense to me, and necklines? Well, let’s just say I had a D’oh! moment in April. It makes so much sense, now.
I hope Wannietta doesn’t mind a little show and tell. This is the second last meeting before the sacred or secular gift-identified festival of your choice. (My choice is Christmas). There is usually a fair bit of gift knitting to be shown off. I was hoping to have Icarus ready today, but it’s not going to happen I’ll have the comedy/tragedy mask hat done, as well as the rainbow hat. It seems a little weird doing show and tell. A number of the Guild members read this, and so see most of the stuff as its being made. I wonder if they sit there during show and tell and think “ho-hum. The bowling hat AGAIN. Hasn’t she made anything I haven’t seen?”

Oh, and if any Guild members are reading this - I may be a little late - Son has basketball practice tonight, and Hubby may be late - So if I'm late, welcome Wannietta, willya? She's super nice. And I should be there in good time - hopefully, I won't be dragging a sweaty seven year old boy along with me, hoping hubby will be along to pick him up...

On a completely non-knitting, but parenting note...
When I picked up my son at the sitters yesterday, he mentioned that his teacher would be calling the house tonight. Ok... "why?" I asked. Of course, he doesn't know. But he was asked to leave the carpet at reading time today, so I have an inkling it has something to do with talking out of turn, or the poking that young boys do to each other when asked to sit in close quarters. Fine. I have no problem with this. My problem? When a teacher says she going to call - and I'm ready for this call all night, I'd appreciate the call! No call. And I'm out of the house tonight, so hubby will handle it if the call comes tonight. Actually, this is good - Hubby is probably better at dealing with this kind of thing. I know there is nothing to worry about - Son is a good kid, not prone to anything that will land him in juvenile detention, but still, don't we all want our kids to be perfect? (Not that we ever were...)

Monday, November 06, 2006

some quickies...

I'm lovin' post titles that will get s ome unusual Google hits...

I finished up some projects on the weekend - I'm not really sure how - it was one of those whirlwind type weekends that went by so quickly, I sat there on Sunday and tried to remember where I had been and what I had done. I checked - both hubby and son seemed fed and happy and reasonably clean, so I must have done something right...
I blocked the drama hat (balloons are perfect for hat blocking, by the way), and on Saturday afternoon, started another hat (what's with the hats all of a sudden?? It seems to be my gift of choice this year...) that I finished up on Sunday night during the Amazing Race (sorry to see Kentucky go, but I would really like to see the blonde bimbos crash and burn badly).

The little guy sitting with the hat? A gnome. I started a major hullabaloo last year on the forum when I posted the picture of a gnome that was a pattern insert in a UK magazine. Seriously, this is the cutest thing I have seen in a long time, and I'm not one for cutesy stuff. I love this guy. I keep meaning to give him to a friend, but he has yet to leave my house. Friend will get one, just not this one. I wish I had more time to knit these - they don't take long, but they are all in pieces, so there is a fair bit of finishing to be done. CatBookMom loved him so much, she tracked down the magazine publishers in the UK, and got the pattern released to her. I'm pretty sure she still has it available - CBM, if not, let me know, and I'll see what I can do. Alan Dart is the designer, and I guess he is well known for his critter and toy patterns.

This is a New Zealand Yarn by J.J's (??) I really have to keep yarn bands and tags around longer). My LYS stocks this in wonderful handpaint colourways, it's 100% wool, and works up very nicely. I went by Needles and Knits on Saturday to get two balls of Truffle for lining the hats - I should have walked out of there under $20 - $200 later... I have no yarn will power. None. What. So. Ever. And I have my Guild meeting tomorrow night. Best leave the wallet at home!!
I am soooo close to finishing the blue cotton socks, and have made great progress on the Tibetan Nun socks - hopefully, basketball practice, Guild Meeting and swimming lessons this week should give me the time needed to finish these two things so I can start a pair of socks for Hubby. Did I choose the Fly Fishing colourway? The Yukon (which seems to have people drooling...) or, or...

right. Neither of them. Meet Knit Picks Sock Memories Cape Cod colourway. I'm drawn to this, and I know hubby will love them. So Cape Cod it is.

Mor about our Guild Meeting tomorrow...

Friday, November 03, 2006


Socktober, Lacevember and other knitalongs got me thinking. Am I a joiner? I did the Knitting Olympics, and earned my gold medal (if I could only figure out how to post it in my sidebar!!) I did the Kerry Blue Lace Shawl knitalong at quite a while ago. But I ignored Socktober, although I knit tons of socks in October. And I’m ignoring Lacevember, although I have the perfect project – the twenty remaining rows of Icarus.
I’m not really sure why. I think it relates to my feeling about knitting something that someone REQUESTS. At that point, it ceases being my enjoyment, my relaxation, and it takes on the spectre of being my requirement, my job. I have enough trouble with my real job – I don’t need my knitting to become one too!
I have a number of projects on the go. (really? You didn’t know that?) I truly think this keeps me from becoming so bored with a project that I can’t face it any more. I salute those that can start a project and work on it exclusively until the final stitch is bound off and seam sewn and ends all woven in. And those people that don’t keep stash yarn, but only buy what they need for their current project?* My hat’s off to you. You can probably find your multi-head screwdriver in seconds, too.**
Lacevember seems custom made for me – you don’t have to start a new project, you can work on an existing one – they only ask that it has (purposely made) holes in it. I could do this. 2 good days and Icarus is done. But if I join, you know I will hate that shawl every time I pick it up because I will feel OBLIGATED to knit it. I am not obligated to my knitting, nor do I ever want to feel that way. You know of course, that I will finish Icarus this month, and probably start some other lace project. I may not join knitalongs, but subconsciously, I’m all there, baby!

If you're wondering about the lack of photos lately - there's just nothing new to show. Maybe an FO after the weekend...

*I hear there are such people. I’m very curious, mostly because I simply cannot fathom this concept. Then again, I have wool in just about every room in my house. I dare you to find a spot in my house to stand in that you cannot spot yarn from some vantage point. With winter coming, it can be argued that I am doing my part – wool is simply insulating parts of my house.

**My husband is a tool snob. Hates the multi-head screwdriver that I keep in my kitchen, disdaining it a “cheap crap”. So explain to me why I can never find it, unless I look on his tool bench, home to his DeWalts and Craftsmans?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Just a Fad?

I was at my son’s swimming lessons last week. There is an area for the parents to sit and watch while the kids swim, so I’m sitting there, working on a sock, as I am wont to do while sitting for any length of time. I often see people I know – with a son that swims regularly, plays soccer in the summer and basketball in the winter, as well as attends school; you always meet someone you know. It is a mid-sized town, after all. So I’m sitting there, and a woman sits beside me and exclaims “I thought it was you! I saw you knitting and figured it had to be you!” This woman was a neighbour about 3 years ago – her daughters and my son would play together, until they moved to another part of town. We basically lost contact not long after that. I was nice to see her and we chatted while we watched the kids swim and I worked on my sock. (Multi-tasker! That’s me!) Then she said something that kinda floored me. “I was actually surprised to see you knitting. I thought you would have gotten tired of it by now. It doesn’t seem to be as popular as it was.” Did I miss a memo? Are supposed to get tired of things every few years? If so, I either have to stop buying yarn or find a way to use it up quicker. In case you are wondering, I did answer her. I told her quite simply that to me, knitting is not a fad; it is something I plan on doing for the foreseeable future and beyond. I also brought up in conversation that I don’t knit just for the end product (as evidenced by the socks – no one knits socks just to have socks. You have to LIKE knitting socks to knit socks.) I knit for the process of it. I like every part of it, from buying the yarn, picking or designing the pattern, knitting the project and seeing the end result. No, I didn’t lecture her, and yes, she did lose interest soon enough.
Have any of you run into the “oh, it’s just a fad, you’ll outgrow it soon enough” crowd? Is it just me? Do I have strange acquaintances? I mean, I’m accustomed to being the only one of my family that knits, at least, regularly, but I’ve seen others KIPing, and our Guild membership is growing, so my feeling is that knitting is here to stay, and stronger than ever. It had better be – my kid’s inheritance is locked up in wool at the moment… Not that it would really matter to me. Of course I would knit even if it was deemed “not cool” any more. I may have followed the crowd to an extent in my younger days (bell bottoms? Check. Blue eyeshadow? Unfortunately, check.), but now? Now, I’m a mom, so automatically, I have the “not-so-cool” attachment. So knitting works for me. It also keeps me sane in this crazy whirlwind that is my life these days. People wonder how I knit as much as I do (I didn’t think it was that much, but any way). I tell them I have to. I carve out time in my day. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to smaller projects – easy to pick up and knit a few rows or even just a few stitches. Calming – you bet. Without it, well let’s just say I wouldn’t be the tower of calm, cool and collected you see here. Mmmphhh! Sorry – calm, cool or collected are not terms normally attributed to me. So you can imagine what I would be like without my knitting. Look at it like this – Survivor is a show I love to watch. If I were a contestant, you can bet I’d be knitting palm fronds, or coconut fibre, or vines, or SOMETHING! You need a roof? Give me a day, and some 200mm needles…

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Superheroes and Princesses

We love Halloween at our house. Love it. Hubby becomes a big kid and will do all kinds of thing to put smiles on kid’s faces. Mind you, we don’t go to the extent like those you see on the local news, but we have fun. Hubby builds a wooden frame over the deck, and we cover it in mesh from which we hang multitudes of spider web material. Within this mass of webs, you will find all kinds of things – spiders of all shapes and sizes, skeletons that glow or light up and flying bats. (I’m holding him here – he hasn’t been hung yet).

The deck in the light (good flash!) and how it appears in the dark.

You can’t see the bloody eyeball lights, or floating ghosts and flashing eyed skeletons here. Too bad.

This spider was swinging right by the door, high enough not to scare the little kids, but he would swing right into the peripheral vision of the older ones – good for a jump or two!

Plus the pumpkins. We each get one, hence the 3 pumpkins, yet it always seems to fall to me to carve them. Hubby and son pick their patterns, and simply hand them to me. We will be working on that in future years. If it looks like 4 pumpkins – this year I chose a conjoined twin pumpkin and did the “scary mummy face on one side/wacky fun face with glowing eyes on the other. Fun stuff.

Young son was an alien, complete with electronic voice changer – worked like a charm!

Because we have a young child, and live fairly close to the school, we get a fair number of kids – Hubby, aka Statsman, keeps track of how many kids come during each half hour time frame. (He had better never call me anal again!). We treated over 80 kids this year, give or take a few when the crowds were big enough to lose track on the count. With very few exceptions, every little girl under the age of 10 was a princess or fairy or some combination of the two. And the boys? Superheroes. Superman, Batman, the Thing from the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, you name it. Made me feel safe, knowing my house was surrounded by all this super power.
The best house on the street? About 10 doors down – new owners, young couple with lots of friends. Graveyard in front lawn, with corpses rising out of piles of leaves, Gargoyles grabbing at you as you walked up the driveway, the witch on the porch handing out candy. Fabulous. But just when you think you’re safe, as the kids come back down the driveway (giving the first gargoyle a wide berth), the guy hidden in the hedges pops out. Scared the crap outta me, I tell you! I was standing not 5 feet from him, waiting for the kids, and never saw him. Full marks for the scare factor when you get the parents jumping out of their skins!