Thursday, December 24, 2009

bring it on!

I'm ready for this. The food is bought, and will be prepared today and tomorrow. Gifts are done and wrapped. People are invited, plans are made, things are going to happen.

And here's the main thing. Whatever happens, happens. There is nothing more to do except enjoy. I do try to plan ahead, but I don't sweat it if things go a little differently that planned. I'm at work for a breakfast get together, then over to the husband's work for more food, home to bake a pie, then off to friends for the evening. Tomorrow is all about family and friends at out place, and I love it. All the mayhem, family drama, everything.
Bring it on!
The Merriest of Christmases, or Happiest of Holidays, or just a Wonderful Friday to everyone who reads this stuff. Your reading and commenting make it worthwhile to me, and I can't tell you how much it means to me. I keep this blog separate from my 3-D life, so it's nice to know there are people out there.

Friday, December 18, 2009

just under the wire...

One more set of completed thrummed mitts. (I'd say my last pair, but a request came in last night for a pair "whenever I have a chance - not for Christmas or anything..."
I used black worsted weight wool (Smart? Not really sure - they were in the "missing ball bands pile", but it's a nice soft wool) and gold pencil roving from Briggs and Little. My son's school colours are black and gold, so it seemed appropriate. His teacher can wear them on those winter recess playground duties. They're in his backpack, ready for gifting today.

So, checking my list...

Shopping? Pretty much good there. A couple of gift cards to pick up, and the traditional card stuffer lottery tickets are all that's left.

Knitting? Mostly done. two pairs of socks that will be given as "in-progress" gifts. One for the husband, one for the FIL. Both are used to it, and won't think less of me.

Sewing? Check. 18 pairs of pajama pants, completed and ready to go.

Food? Check. Well sort of - turkey order is in at the butcher (two Heritage birds - one for the oven, and one for the husband to do on the spit on the BBQ). Perishables not purchased yet, but time is alloted for this next week.

Baking? Check - last night was round one of the dog biscuit baking. Depending on how many we give away, there may be a round 2 next week, plus an apple pie, some cupcakes and some caramel and chocolate popcorns (not technically baking, but it does entail use of the oven).

Wrapping? Ahh, there's the issue. I'm a touch behind on this. I usually have more wrapped by this time, but I'm blaming the Walt Disney Company, and their poor timing in needing year long forecasts from their licensees. Of which we are one. And in the licensing world, what Disney wants, Disney gets. So that ate up a great deal of my time this past week. But it's done, and Disney is happy, which means my boss is happy, and using the trickle down effect, this means that I am happy. But I must get wrapping. Immediate family gets just paper (my boys don't appreciate ribbons and the like). Extended family and friends - the whole nine yards - good quality wrapping paper, ribbons and interesting bits and bobs to really glam up the package. I may never be considered glitzy in person, but my wrapping will stand up against Martha Stewart's anytime.

Sleep catch up? Check. As of 4pm today. I'm supposed to be on holidays until the 4th. Although there is some work to be done, I can do it from home, so at least I'm not getting up at 5am every day...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

another gnome, finished and given away...

I finished the blue and yellow gnome, and am really happy at how he turned out. For the beard, we chose a combination of the really long white furry yarn mixed with a champagne coloured shorter haired one. I think it looks great, and my friend S adored it. It matches her kitchen, and she has it sitting on the edge of her cupboards, watching over the place. She's waiting for the perfect name for it - she says he hasn't yet told her what his name should be.
Next up - finishing the mittens for my son's teacher. I had pretty much resigned myself to having them done for January, and told my husband that last night. Of course, by the time I went to bed, I had completed about 4 inches of the second mitt, and with the two hour finale of So You Think You Can Dance last night, I just have to finish the thumb, and they will be ready for gifting on Friday. Last night was the boy's last swim lesson for this session, and his instructor has been phenomenal, so I dug into the stash of completed items and found a pair of wrist warmers for her. She was thrilled, which made it that much better. She really deserved it.

And after things calm down a touch, I've got another gnome to knit. My son wants one for his room. Then, I may actually get back to some projects for me that have been neglected for a while. Or maybe, once Christmas is done, I'll just sleep. I could use some of that...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

busy, busy...

I have 4 days left in the office, and I'm super busy with work stuff. (They expect results in exchange for my paycheque. Strange, that.) So posts will be light. Really light. I mean, do you really want to see the minuscule progress on the Fame Trend Socks? Or see the state of the gift wrapping area? Maybe hear about the fluid family totals that are coming Christmas Day - she's coming, she's not coming, she not sure...
I could tell you about taking my Mom to IKEA for the first time. She's a convert. She kept looking around and saying "look at that! Wow, that's nice! What do you mean, it's only $10?" Well, I've got to come back here..." It was fun to watch. She finished up her Christmas shopping, I got the new bookcase I needed for the kitchen, so it was good all around.
Today I start a major push to get some work I do with Disney complete before the end of the year. Technically, my year ends on Friday, as I'm on vacation until January 4th, but I will be working from home during the next couple of weeks, just to keep on top of things.
I should be back posting before Christmas - Especially if something interesting happens...

Friday, December 11, 2009

the girl has talent!

Susan has come through for me yet again. Just when I was post-less (Really, do you need to see another in-progress picture of a knitted gnome? They're much better when complete), she sends me pictures of a necklace she just completed for her Mom.

Now, I've never met her Mom. but I've heard lots. She loves the bling. Loves the glitz, but, it has to be quality glitz. Meet quality glitz. Crystals, silk ribbons, sterling findings - this is the good stuff. (You've really got to click through to these and see the close-up work).But the best part of her Mom is that she understands and appreciates the hand made aspect of gifts. I gather Susan's Mom had input to this necklace, and there was an inspiration picture, but trust me, this piece is one of a kind. I've seen the inspiration picture, and Susan has taken this to a whole other level. In Susan's own words:

"I love it, and hope my mom does too. It was hell."
Hell it might have been, but if her Mom doesn't love it, my Mom will gladly adopt her for it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

things I need to finish...

I'm in pretty good shape for Christmas. (Go ahead, hate me, it's nothing I haven't heard from my own family). I get the "I can't believe you've started already!" I return with "I can't believe you haven't. Were you surprised by the date? Did you think they moved it?" (This attitude only counts within my own family - none of them are renovating, or putting giant holes in their houses. I truly feel for you if you have crap going on beyond your control. I'm really talking about my SIL who bitched at me - she works fewer hours than I do, her kids don't have evening activities, they don't entertain, and her husband gets home about 3 hours before mine does, therefore availing himself to help out. Yet she freaks out at me.)

But... there's still a few things to go...

From the top:

Another gnome, this one in blue and yellow, to match a friend's kitchen. And this friend is coming for dinner this Saturday, so this is now the main knitting project. He's going to be cute! I have finished stuffing his butt with beans, and have started one of the legs. I may wait to do the beard until S gets to our place, and let her choose if she wants a white beard or a grey one...

Next are the blue cotton socks for my husband. I'm pretty much resigned to finishing these after Christmas, and he's good with that. It's not like they are a surprise - he picked the yarn and I sized them on him, and he chose the grey that will accent to top to add some much needed length. He's good with getting them whenever.

The third pair of thrummed mittens, this pair for my son's teacher. I've made them in the school colours, and will enclose a note saying they're for those cold playground duties the teachers have to do. I think she'll like them. The deadline for these is December 18 - last day of school.

Last but not least - the Fame Trend socks for my Father in Law. As much as he's okay with getting them after Christmas, I'd kind of like to get a little further along on them, but we'll see. I'm not 100% convinced that these socks are right for him. Colourwise, they're spot on, but the Fame Trend is a little more rustic than I like for him. He has problems with his feet, so I should have gone softer. I''ll keep debating this point, every time I pick these up, so maybe I should just bite the bullet and find a better yarn for him...

Plus, there's the last 4 pairs of pajamas to finish up, possibly a few more knitted items, and some baking. And knowing me, the baking is of course, the non-traditional kind. Everyone else makes wonderful Christmas cookies this time of year, I make dog biscuits. Yup- we have 4 dogs that are parts of close friends' families, so we can't forget them. They all get home made dog biscuits. They love it, and it's fun to do. And dogs don't care if they haven't browned evenly. I actually forgot to do this last year, and paid the price. Not so much from the dogs (I mean, come on, they're dogs, they don't remember from one year to the next that we gave them bickies...) but the owners were a touch put out that we forgot. So we're rectifying this with double batches this year. And yes, I have bone shaped cookie cutters, as well as other shapes.

A few more gift items to pick up, and then the wrapping marathon begins. I literally take over the basement, set up a table in front of the TV, and go wild with papers, bags, ribbons and the like. I admit, I tend to go over the top with wrapping. I love it. My husband just shakes his head.

It's obvious, isn't it? I love this time of year...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

defender of my house...

Remember this guy? I made this gnome a few years back - he's an Alan Dart pattern that came in a supplement to Simply Knitting Magazine. I absolutely fell for him, and had grandiose plans to knit multitudes of them for myself, friends and family. Those plans fell through for whatever reason, but this little guy still sits on the bookcase in my living room, tucked into the corner. The story is that these Swedish gnomes protect the house they live in. There is also a story that they steal from the house they live in, so I guess my guy is a combination of both of these stories - he protects us, but it's his fault things go missing...

Although he does have a somewhat "Christmassy" sort of look, he's really a year-round type of guy. I picked him up the other day, and thought that with a few modifications, I could make him a little more seasonal - brighter colours, some furry trim, a modified hat shape... A quick dive into the stash for some Classic Merino (even toys deserve to be made of good wool), a side trip to Michael's for the velvet trim, and I had this. I know, he looks a little off here. I had to wait until I could get to Needles and Knits for beard yarn. Fun fur (actually, almost any acrylic) is not something I keep in the stash, and Michael's had no white left on shelf. I was at the store on Tuesday, and cleaned Tove out of any and all white furry stuff.
Really makes a difference, doesn't it? This particular one is a gift for a friend. He will be clutching a small box with the other half of the gift. And he took so little time (a couple of nights, maybe?) that I really want to make more of them. There's a couple of people I know that would love him, and I'd really like one for myself. Plus, I'd like to make more of the traditional gnomes as well. Of course, with the time crunch upon us, the ones for me will be a New Years endeavour, but if I get butt in gear and crank out the last pair of thrummed mitts, I may be able to squeeze in at least one more of these guys.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I forgot to mention...

The CFO of our company won the footwear pool! He did a little happy dance this morning when he saw me in boots. The Director of Sales (my old boss) was the only other participant left - he had January 4th. (He was hoping for a snowless December, I guess). I hear there were 17 participants, and the plans are underway for next year.
Personally, I think that's a lot of pressure on me. I'm going to have to come up with a way to screw things up - maybe wear boots the day after Labour day and nip this whole thing in the bud early...
I wonder what will happen if I revert back tomorrow...

I caved.

I caved, and finally updated my footwear.
Two reasons.
yeah, that was what greeted me this morning. I know it will be gone soon, but there was enough on the ground that it reached my toes.
Two: My winter wardrobe is severely limited if I don't change the footwear. Whereas I can wear jeans everyday (and flip flops look fine with jeans), I have clothes that really need a boot or shoe, and I'd like to wear them. So even though I have jeans on today, the boots have finally come out of the closet.

And... I'm okay with this. I think. It feels really strange... And yes, the boots will be ditched upon arrival at home tonight. Of course, I still need shoes, as it's basketball night, and I have to play against the kids for a while before I take off for my Guild meeting. So, it's going to be a rough day for the feet.

Monday, November 30, 2009

sigh. still so many to educate...

sigh. Some people just don't get the difference...

I love the Added Touch - I ordered some stuff from there last week, which is how I happened upon this.

Friday, November 27, 2009

one down...

The thrummed mittens for my nephew are finished. I hope he likes them, but I'm prepared if he doesn't. I know he asked for warm mitts, and that's what these are,and they are of the yarn he chose, and all the rest, but he's 15. This may be the first incarnation of mittens. If they aren't exactly to his liking, I'm thinking bulky alpaca, with no thrums, but with the texting thumbs, a la Brenda. Way cool idea, Brenda. Too bad it won't work with thrums.

I love the look of thrummed mitts inside out - somewhat alien-ish...
But I think D will like these. And if he show the proper amount of enthusiasm in receiving them (i.e. "thanks, Aunt Sandra"), then he may get the alpaca ones anyway - I love that text thumb option...
Yes, all that fibre fits inside, around my hand. I'm not trying them on much - I want them to form to his hands, not mine...
Next up - the same thing in a slightly smaller size for my son's teacher. I'm using the school colours of black and gold, so she has something to keep her hands warm during those cold playground duties.

Yesterday, I was lax in wishing my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving. I wish I was there - I usually am, spending this week with my Mom in Florida. But life conspired to keep me here this year, so I missed out on turkey, and of course the shopping. Dang, I miss the shopping...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

footwear update

For those still wondering, I am still wearing flip flops daily to work. I believe the pool is still going on - I'm guessing there are two people still vying for the cash. On Monday, one person lost - she had me down for my birthday as the day I would wear real shoes, but no, I had my favourite black ones on. Tuesday they were brown. Today, green. I'm hoping to drag this out until Christmas, but I'll be happy if I can see in December in my beloved flip flops.

I broke down and endured high heels and pantyhose for MIL's party, but they were peeled off within moments of arriving home. She's one of the few people I would do that for.

Call me crazy, (many do), but really and truly, my feet don't get cold, and I hate shoes. Also, as much as I enjoy knitting socks, wearing them? not so much.

Keep the mild weather coming!

Monday, November 23, 2009

much happier now...

Sorry, my last post was a huge downer. Things were happening that weren't all that great, but I had a nice weekend, so all is better now. The party was great. Everyone enjoyed themselves, the food was okay, and the people were marvelous. My MIL had a great time, and really, that's what it's all about. My SIL, the "K" was an annoying idiot, but that was what we expected, so by ignoring her and most of her demands, we ended up having a good day.

I have to say, the cupcakes were a huge hit with everyone, but especially my MIL, so that was cool.
The theme for us was really, "go with the flow", so we did. It also helped that once it was over, we went out for dinner with some friends that were there, and avoided the whole family debrief. (My husband and his brother had no interest in sitting around with their sisters, going over the party in excruciating detail. I was happy to comply.)

So that's done. The next big focus for the family is Christmas, and I always look forward to it. Regardless of what I wrote last time, I do adore Christmas. Weird gifts aside, spending the day with family is always good. And since it's at our house this year, it will be even better.

Now, I just have to make sure I get all the Christmas knitting done.

The Fame Trend socks are slowly (very slowly!) getting there, and the blue cotton ones are doing the same. I really want to get the Christmas knitting done, because I have plans for more "ME" knitting in the New Year, and I want to get at it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

countdown to P-day, and some introspection...

We're in good shape for the party - at this point my husband and I are just doing what is asked of us. What kills me is how complicated and convoluted things get when you have more than one person organizing. Yesterday's round of emails was epic, and I showed great restraint and said nothing. It's really a case of everyone wanting to do things their way, and everyone having an opinion about everything.

I told him that if I ever married again, it would have to be to an orphan with no siblings.

I'm sure my family is no peach at times, but really, there's so few of us, it's easier to take at family gatherings. His is huge, and so diverse, it's amazing to me that these 5 kids were all brought up in the same environment, with the same parents. And there's not that much of an age difference - all 5 kids were born within 8 years.
And this party is just step one - we still have Christmas coming in a few weeks, when this horde will be descending on my house. But that's okay - that's what we prefer. I don't have a problem with cooking or a feeding a large group - its how I was brought up. My parents enjoyed entertaining and cooking and did it often, so my brother and I, growing up in that kind of atmosphere, embrace the same thing. It's just was we always thought was normal. The husband's family was not. Cooking was a chore instead of a joy, entertaining was cause for alarm and panic, and guests were treated preferentially, rather than as just friends. So I can understand where the panic is coming from this week, even if it makes no sense to me. (surprisingly, my husband is more similar to my family - he loves entertaining, hence we do it often).

So, I guess I have to be more understanding. Not everyone had the same upbringing, not everyone looks at things like this the same way I do. And maybe I'm being as much of a pain in the ass to them as they are being to me. It's all a matter of perspective.

Knit Tech made a comment that made me think:

"Since you do everything amazingly, they* have a lot of ground to try and make up."

Do I really come across that way? I kind of hope not. I'd hate for people to think poorly of me because I seem to be an overachiever. (Trust me, if you saw the state of my house, you wouldn't think that). (Knit Tech - I'm pretty sure you aren't thinking poorly of me, you're just putting yourself in their shoes, right? Please?)

I don't give hand made gifts because I want people to think I'm trying to look better than them. I've just always been the type to want to do things myself. I'm fascinated by crafts and creating, and really, I like personalizing things that way. The pajama pants? Yeah, there's a lot of them, but I production line it, and they don't take long to make. The knitting? There's a lot less of it being given away this year, because there's a lot less of it to give. A lot of my knitting time this year was taken up by knitting things for ME. And I liked it. The beads? It takes a heckuva lot less time to bead a bracelet than it does to knit something.

I also spend a lot of time thinking about the people on my list, and their likes, dislikes, and way of life. It's an ongoing, all year thing for me. I like trying to match op things to people. Again, it's something my parents always did, so I don't think anything of it. Others find it incredibly difficult. It seems I am "difficult to buy for". I have trouble with that - I like everything that people give me, although I have been the recipient of some fairly weird gifts. Like the briefcase sized day timer to replace my purse sized one. (the thing weighed 5 pounds!) Or the pink flowery polar fleece jacket from last year. Ask Susan - I don't do pink flowery. Ever. And this from someone in my family that has known me for 20+ years. I say I like wool, they tell me I have so much, I don't need any more. (I've given up trying to explain how wrong that is). I say I like kitchen things and cookbooks, I get told do I really need any more? (Well, yes, yes I do.) I say I like books and music, they say that's too ambiguous. (Okay, so the list of favourite authors wasn't SPECIFIC enough?) Knitting books. Books on sewing, beading, needle felting. I get told they don't know enough about the arts to tell a good book from a bad one. (Isn't that what store clerks are for? Or Google? ask around.) Clothes? I spend a fair bit of time with these people - it's not hard to determine my tastes. Jeans, yoga pants, nice casual tops and hoodies. Nothing pink, ruffly or flowery. Not my style.

Sigh. I feel like I'm complaining, and really, I'm not. To me, Christmas is all about the giving. I don't care if all I get is a bottle of Scotch (single malt, please) and some chocolate. (Actually, I just described what my Mom gives me most years - I love that woman - she knows me so well...) I'm happiest when someone opens a gift that I've thought was perfect for them, and it is. (It isn't always - I've missed the mark a few times). That, and seeing the kids running roughshod, having fun, being kids. It seems the Santa is making a return visit to our hose this year, and I'm thrilled.
The party is going to be fabulous - I know it will. My MIL is getting excited about it, and that's all that matters. Christmas is going to be a blast, and I can't wait. There's nothing better than family at the holidays.

Even if I can't stand the sight of them for the next few weeks afterwards...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

must. keep. going...

My track record with mittens is not the best. I can't explain it - I happily knit socks - endless rounds of stockinette, around, and around, and around... but the mittens confound me. It's the same as sock knitting, only faster and on bigger needles (usually). All signs that I should be cranking out mittens like there's no tomorrow. So why am I stalled here, with just a few more rows before shaping the top, and doing the thumb, on the FIRST of a pair? I should be able to clear this baby in one evening, do the mate in two days, and still make the two more pairs I have planned. (son's teacher, and his sitter - they would both love these...)

But I always seem to find something else to do in the evenings - making some cards (necessary, since they are also Christmas gifts), or just puttering around the house (again, necessary, as we are on a major purge of all extraneous crap in this house). The socks for my husband and FIL - I'm thinking they will get them partially done, with a promise for the New Year. (It's okay, they're both used to it). Husband is getting the blue and grey cotton stretch socks he has specifically requested, and FIL is getting the black and grey Fame Trend ones. I think. I'm not completely convinced of this.

To be honest, I've been a little distracted - my MIL's 80th birthday celebration is this Sunday, and things are ramping up. The Kommandant has been sharply spoken to, it seems, because she is all sweetness and light these days, praising ad nauseum. I think I prefer the bitchy attitude to all this saccharine syrup. Whatever, I'm on top of what I need to do, except the cupcakes which I will bake and decorate on Saturday. My husband and I find it rather funny that we, the one couple in the family that enjoys entertaining and cooking, and does it the most, has been completely shut out of the food situation. Oh well, it's a team effort, that's what I keep repeating to myself.
I think I'll start drinking on Saturday night, just to be ready for this...

Monday, November 16, 2009

dare I say it?

am I really on top of the Christmas list? (You know that list - the one with my husband and son, 15 members of the husband's family, 6 members of my family, 12-15 friends, as well as a few hangers on that get but don't really deserve (you don't want to know). Then there's the work crew that may or may not be an exchange with (but I hate to be caught short), and the odd extra "just in case" gift.

Before anyone thinks I'm done shopping - please. Give your head a shake. The shopping is no where near started, let alone being close to finished.

I'm talking about the handmades. The knitted, the (in a few cases) crocheted, the sewn and the beaded.

I did make it easy on myself - the nieces and nephews are getting hand sewn pajama pants, then a little something extra for each (a Noro knitted skirt, thrummed mitten, beaded bracelets, and in some cases, gift cards) I've been sewing since I was a kid (thanks, Mom!), so I can do a pair of jammie pants in about an hour. And when I production line the cutting (love my big rotary cutter), it can go even faster. I prewash all the fabrics, and toss them in the dryer (they are pajamas - no one is going to handwash them). Then I stack up two or three layers and cut. I'm sure the woman at Fabricland thought I was a touch nuts buying the same pajama pattern in three different sizes, and other pajama patterns as well, but face it - my family comes in all sizes, so I need the multiples. I cut out a few pairs at a time, group them by colour range and then sew away. Grouping by colour range is to make it easy with the thread and bobbins. All those that us white thread go in one pile, the black in another, greys over there, and the odd red or blue or yellow sits alone until I get to them. I'm having a blast with this, matching up the fabrics to the kids (and adults!)

For the hockey players:
the baseball players: the basketball players: the poker fans (or sons of said poker fans): the musical theatre kid: the hippie chick: the drama queen: the "too cool for pattern - just drab plaids" teens: the lizard lover:the "all things skull" fans: the Florida flamingo lover (my Mom):and of course, me - the wolf in sheep's clothing! (actually I just love the sheep thing): (crap - I forgot to take this picture - it's very cute. But on the back burner until the rest of these are done)
Eight pairs are done, 8 more are cut out, and 5 more need to be cut. Then there's some knitting (mostly sock) and a couple of things to buy. Another bonus this year - I have vacation time that I HAVE to use up before the end of the year, so not only will I have the week before and the week after Christmas off, I will still have 3 or 4 days before that! Hopefully one will be spent at the AGO - my son's class is going on a field trip to see the King Tut exhibit, and I desperately want to be going along. So that leaves me a couple of days to shop for stuff.

You know all this organization is going to come back and bite me on the ass, don't you? Especially now, since I've just gloated about it. The universe will stomp on me in a big way...

Friday, November 13, 2009

I have a new toy

I'm posting this from my new iPod touch. Basically, it's an iPhone without the phone. (I love my Razr phone...). My son snags it whenever he can (I've got him addicted to the Sheepstacker game...)
yeah, I'm having way too much fun. who knew typing with my thumbs was so easy?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11

I may not support any war, but I absolutely support those that choose to be there. As the daughter and granddaughter of veterans of Korea and WW1, this day is meaningful to me. My Dad was in the Canadian Navy and my GrandDad was a member of the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment of the British Army. I have their pictures and their medals, and while neither of them defined themselves by their service, I know it shaped them and by lieu of me knowing them, I'm sure it shaped me in some way.

I thank them, and all others.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

more on the thrummed mitts

One pair is done: And I've made some changes to the other: The grey and red pair will be put away for Christmas now.

The changes I made to the blue? After some careful measuring and weighing, I determined that I would not have enough of the grey alpaca for the pair. Crap. So I dug out my wheel of navy pencil roving, and have alternated rows of super soft grey alpaca and not so soft but really warm navy wool roving. The bonus? I like this better. The navy adds a depth of colour. Even my husband noticed and liked it better. (A comment made without even any prompting! He's getting so much better at this...) He's sure my nephew D will love these. I hope so. Or at least, I hope he likes them enough, or at least, he likes me enough not to tell me if he hates them...
You can see here how generous I make the thrums. I feel that the inside of the mitten should be completely packed with fibre. You shove your hand in, and the fibre forms around it, making a custom sized pocket, just for you. Luxurious. It's the only way to go.

The blue mitts are so much easier to knit - the Heilo yarn is closer to a DK weight, while the Briggs and Little grey was a worsted. On 4mm needles, the grey made a firmer fabric, but it was harder on my hands. This Heilo is much easier. I can see these mitts taking less time, even though they are larger.

Next up - some Peruvian hand painted stuff with plain thrums, and some beautiful cream coloured wool with hand painted thrums. Or maybe I'll keep the cream colour and make the thrums in the stripe colours of a classic Hudson's Bay Point Blanket.

Can't get any more Canadian than that...

Monday, November 09, 2009

random answers

Sometimes I get questions in the comments, and I've never really been sure how to answer them, so I thought I'd collect them and answer them here. I'm kind of hoping that those that ask are still coming back to read...

Regarding the thrummed mittens, Tracy asked where I got the roving. The red roving is actually White Buffalo Mills Unspun. It's a wheel of pencil-like roving, and I have tons of it. Years ago, I bought wheels in black, red, navy, rust, green and gold. I have no idea why, or where (possibly from Briggs and Little), and I have used it for thrums every since. Okay, I just did a little checking - I definitely bought it from Briggs and Little - here's the link. It's great for thrums since it's already a perfect size - you just have to rip off the lengths you need. (Most patterns tell you 3 inch lengths, I go for at least 4 inches. For thrums, more is more.) I've also got some braids of Fleece Artist Roving in hand-dyed colours, and these look great with solid coloured yarns. I have used the Fleece Artist kit that she mentions, although Tracy, how the hell did you get two pairs out of 1 kit?? I made one pair and I had to supplement the roving they supplied, as there was no way there was enough roving for even the one pair! as I said, the key with thrums is "More is More" - skimping on them is defeating the purpose. You need enough roving inside to make it worthwhile, otherwise, I wouldn't bother. So lesson learned, the Fleece Artist kits, while absolutely lovely, are fine for 1 pair of small child's mittens, but be warned if making some for adults - it won't be nearly enough. The grey alpaca (I also have a bag of white alpaca) was bought at the Kitchener Knitters Fair, about 2 or 3 years ago. There are plenty of sources for roving out there.

Deirdre asked about the Halloween pumpkins - how did I get the white teeth? That's easy - just carve off the orange skin to reveal the white flesh of the pumpkin underneath. I use my old litho carving tools - they look like small woodworking awls and shapers. It's way easier than it looks to do.

Brenda asked if I enjoy knitting thrummed mitts. I do, although I have to admit mitten knitting is not among my favourite things. I go in jags with it. Right now I'm willing to knit mittens, a month from now, I will hate them, I'm sure. As far as thrummed vs. regular mitts - I like something to keep my brain occupied. So it's either thrums, or colourwork or SOMETHING beyond straight stockinette. (Yet, I rarely pattern my socks, preferring to keep them straight stockinette. I know, my brain is wired a little funny...)

Deirdre again - asking about the yarn and roving. Okay the roving I explained, but the grey wool is also a Briggs and Little wool - for some reason I have a ridiculous quantity of this stuff. I must have bought it during one of my "Buy Canadian" phases. Which is not a bad thing.

Marlyce asked about the charity our Guild supports. We support many, including Yellow Brick House in York Region, a woman's shelter, Southlake Regional Health Centre, and many others that or "charity co-ordinator Jen finds. I believe there are some overseas charities that are helped as well.

Regarding the decluttering, we donate toys and stuff to Goodwill, clothes go there as well, or I give them to my Mom for her church. Some of the toys go to my friend who runs a daycare. Basically, other than things that are trashed, we are not just throwing things away - they are getting re-used by someone. This weekend, another 4 boxes of toys went to a daycare (2 more are in my trunk to drop off this week), and bags of stuff to trash were put out. The basement is getting there - a good vacuuming, and we're good to go. Now I have to convince husband and son that the Playstation and Wii should move down there as well...
Next up - closets and outgrown clothes. I swear, my 10 year old kid grows overnight! Thankfully, he likes his t-shirts baggy...

Friday, November 06, 2009

yum, yum,yum...

New sock yarn! Tove at Needles and Knits got some new sock yarn in, and she was making some socks with it. It looks and feels like Noro, but there are 420m in a ball! Seriously, she was on the second of a pair of adult socks, and the ball was still freakin' huge! We're debating whether you can get two full pairs of adult socks, or if it will be a pair of adult and a kid's pair. Since it didn't seem fair to let her do all the work on this theory, I had to buys some to try it out:

It's called Fame Trend, by Marks and Katten. It's 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, so it should hold up well. It's like Noro in that it seems to be a single, rather than a plied yarn, so that may negate the nylon content in regards to how well it holds up, but I will try it out to see. The top one is a black, cream and grey mix, and like Noro, it has long colour shifts. The bottom left if actually a green/grey/brown mix, although the green is not showing well here - in reality it's a lovely mossy shade of green. Then there's a rainbow colourway, bought because it looks like fun. The grey and black will probably be for my FIL, the green is for me or possibly the husband, and the rainbow hasn't been decided yet (probably me - I know it will be appreciated that way...) I'll use the extras for my son - he rocks the handknit socks, but he keeps growing out of them.

This yarn would be great for knee socks, as well. (I'm not a fan of knee socks myself, but that has me thinking about my nieces, and the rainbow colourway...)

And yes, I have already started the black grey and cream. Yes, I have multitudes of other projects I could and should be working on. But this is research! Right?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Attention! Hell has officially frozen over! Twice!

I have a 15 year old nephew. I love him to death, although it doesn't show. I don't shower him with handknits (at least, not since he turned 8 or so). He was one of the first of the sibling offspring, so he got all the great baby sweaters - including a spectacular (If I may say so) bright red cabled jacket that looked great on him (and three other kids after him - I always took it back for washing, to ensure the lifespan).

But for the last few years, he has been pretty specific about the hand mades. "Please don't." So I didn't. I did hem his school uniform pants, but that was more for him Mom - he was quite happy to leave them long and dragging..., but I never sewed or knitted anything for him.

This summer, after seeing my kid in his hand made pajama pants at the cottage, he discreetly mentioned that some of those would be cool. In plaid. I filed that away, and will be making some of those for Christmas. (all the kids will be getting pj pants - the girls are getting embroidered satins and some tie dyed cottons, the boys are getting patterns to match their interests, and plaids). At that point, I debated buying some ice skates for Lucifer.

But the really "stop me in my tracks, completely gob-smacked" moment came just last week. I was on the phone with his mom, and heard him in the background. His mom came back on the phone and said "D would like a pair of handknit mittens if it's not a problem."


Not a problem? Holy crap, I've been waiting for this moment! I told her to put him on, and tried to keep it low key, although I was jumping for joy inside.

"So Dude, what colour? Blue? okay, I can do blue. I'll send some examples over of blues I have, and you can pick. Cool. Yeah, no problem, I'm sure I can find some time..."

So I grabbed blues - I had some Heilo Norwegian yarn, plain blue. I had some hand-dyed, some Socks that Rock Silke (my personal choice), some alpaca. I gave him about 5 to choose from, and at the last minute, I threw in the grey and red thrummed mitt, as well as a plain knit mitt for him to choose from. I also tossed in the bag of delicious grey alpaca roving for thrums. I put it all in a bag, and my husband took it over there on Monday, during his weekly poker game. (Don't ask - it's been going on since high school).

I got a phone call that night. "D like the plain blue (Heilo),but wants to know about the fluffy ones." I got him on the phone, and he said he really liked the fluffy ones, since they were really warm. I told him to stick his hand in the bag of grey roving, and tell me if that feels as nice as the grey and red one. I hear a muffled "wow, that's sick!" and he gets back on the phone and asks if he can get the grey fluff inside the blue mitten. "The red is nice, but the grey is sick!"
Sick it is. He's getting blue mittens with grey alpaca thrums. He'll be happy, and I'm thrilled. At least I am until all the others decide they want them. Or his friends. My track record with mittens is not good. I'm making as many as I can now before the feeling wears off and I can't stand the sight of another mitten. It will happen...

Wonder if Lucifer needs a toque?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Halloween 2009

We lucked out this year - Halloween falling on a Saturday gave us a chance to decorate the house beyond just the pumpkins.
We had fun with this - Husband and son did most of the outside, while I was busy carving out 3 (actually 4) pumpkins. Husband had requested a Frankenstein pumpkin, while son wanted the toothy guy. I opted for my favourite pumpkin in jail again. I usually don't repeat carvings, but I love this concept.
Rachel H - did you remember to steal this idea?

The boy's costume this year was "Death". When we were looking at patterns, he chose this, and I said "oh, you want to be the Grim Reaper". "Yeah, Mom, but you can just call me Death". Okay, so the concept of cute costumes is long gone... Who knew Death wore Nikes...

It was worth it when I could hear the kids yelling to their friends "You have got to see this house - it's wicked!" And for kids to mention they thought the decorations were cool and that they liked the pumpkins? That was sweet.