Monday, August 31, 2009

I hate this day

14 years ago, I lost my Dad. He was my best friend, my mentor, my son's namesake. He taught me how to make a perfect gin martini, and introduced me to fine single malt Scotch. He encouraged me in all my whims and desires. He let me read any book in the house that I picked up, which is how I came to read most of Robert Ludlum before I was in high school, and he patiently explained the Cold War to me because of it. He was a Naval veteran of the Korean War, although he rarely talked about it. He taught me to cook, and better, to enjoy the whole act of cooking and make it an integral part of entertaining. When I went to business school and art school, he supported me through it all. He loved it when I was in art school, doing most of the assignments along with me - he harboured a secret desire to be an artist. Or a chef. In my eyes he was both. I wish I had been a sock knitter 20 years ago. I would have loved to have knitted him socks.

Crap, I miss him.

Friday, August 28, 2009

what amuses us at work

I work for a sticker company, and part of my job is to deal with the licensors. (i.e. anything we produce with someone else's art (Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon, etc), has to go through me for approvals with the studios). It's great - I see a lot of upcoming projects from the Studios, and get to see art from the new movies coming out. (Did you know Disney is making another Tron movie? So cool!)

Anyway, some of the stickers we produce are for direct mail and medical offices, and they come to me in these rolls - I send some off to licensors for approvals and save some samples. While I was away, a great deal of these rolls were produced, and so a ton got stacked up on my desk, waiting for me to finish with them.

What would you do with them? If you're anything like me and some of the people I work with, you start a sticker roll Jenga game. As a reference, we have 14 foot ceilings, and they are starting on a 3 foot high desktop. that's 9-11 feet of stickers in each tower!

These are hovering over me as I work. The Health and Safety Committee wasn't thrilled, but these towers are remarkably sturdy, so they let it go for now.
What do you do for amusement?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

jewellery, piece by piece...

Carol nailed it - she knew the sparkly things would catch my attention when we were on vacation. I did make a bit of jewellery - using up some of my (far too large) stash of beads and things, and also scratching a few Christmas gifts off the list.

This was almost the whole production:After I took that one, I added this necklace to the mix: I also have some crappy pictures of the individual pieces. This dark jewelled one isn't showing up quite as nice as it really is:the jewels are brighter than they show, but are still not really bright - shades of gunmetal and dark blue, a deep purply tone, and hits of amber. The seed beads between the jewels are gunmetal grey. My one SIL saw the raw pieces and asked for it specifically. Perfect. I know she loves the colours, but the style will still be a surprise.

Another similar style is this one. Shades of green and gold, and I haven't decided who's getting this one. You get a better idea of the brightness and sparkle of these two pieces here: Then a couple of chain linked necklaces, using up some beads and other findings I had hanging around - the green leafy shaped one has gold butterflies and bronze toned beads as spacers.

I have a SIL that loves butterflies and green tones, so this is probably hers.

I haven't decided if I'm keeping this one or giving it away. The more I look at it, the more I like it.

The last necklace I made was for a friend who loves grey and yellow, especially together. There are grey bugle and seed bead between the larger glass beads, and frosted glass yellow beads in there as well.

There were also a couple of bracelets made, using a new-to-me technique I found in a beading magazine. These started as just bags of jump rings and beads. I had fun with two sets of pliers, and the rings and beads! I love, love, love the copper one with the blue beads. It's hard to see, but the blue beads actually have a copper edge to them - so nice! These may or may not go out as gifts - I'm having a tough time letting them go.

Of course, since I've been home, I haven't even looked at the jewellery stuff! I want to make more of this stuff - I just need to find the time.

And the good news - bad news in the computer arena - remember our home computer pooched itself when we got back from our vacation? Well, the hard drive is fine, meaning all our files are intact (pictures, and patterns and music, oh my!).

But the motherboard is fried. Great, let's spend MORE money...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

and the winner is...

...2010 Toyota Corolla!
So happy with this choice! I went into the dealership on Friday night, and walked out owning this car. I picked it up Monday, and I think I love it even more. It's dark charcoal grey (because we know how important colour is), and has everything I wanted. And only 8 km on the odometer when I picked it up! (there's a few more kms on it now...)

Nothing that came up at auction was right, so instead of making sacrifices, or settling for something, we went with new.

They even took my Civic as a trade in and gave me more than I would have thought - unbelievable what a good detailing and engine shampoo can do for the resale look of a car...

It got the seal of approval from my son and his friend, so that's good.

All in all, I feel really good considering I just spent thousands of dollars on something other than yarn... but the bathroom renos have been put back a bit - the guy doing them had a bit of a family emergency, so we've adjusted the timetable. At least it didn't happen in the middle of the reno!

Monday, August 24, 2009

closer look at the Christmas cards

I had a commenter request a better look at some of the Christmas cards I make. (can you tell how much I love commenters? They ask a question and I am ALL OVER the answer! Sorry did that sound like begging for comments?)

Anyhoo, here are some of them. They are very, very simple - I don't put a lot of embellishment on them, because I try to keep the costs down enough to sell them at a reasonable price. When I make cards for my own use, there is more time spent and more layers of things added. Because I'm not as concerned about cost.

Understand something however - I work for a sticker/paper crafting company. I get a healthy discount, and I have access to many vendor samples that would otherwise get thrown out (we share those). In the real (retail) world, these would not really be feasible to make in bulk for a reasonable cost, but someone special or for a special occasion, they are worth it.

The only problem I have is that I can't give a store bought card anymore. The recipient gets their nose out of joint if the card from us isn't hand made! Good thing I like doing it! And my MIL basically demands her stock of Christmas cards every year as her (November) birthday gift. Works for me.

I use dimensional (3-D) stickers:

felt fabric stickers:

some are serious:

some are just fun:

whatever they are, they are fun to make and I love giving them.

This reminds me, I have a couple of birthdays and a baby or two coming - must dig out the non-Christmas supplies...

Friday, August 21, 2009

answer to a question

Marlyce in Windsor has a question about the small knitted bag I'm playing around with:

do you line your knit bags? And what do you use for a closure? I'm working on one now--not fair isle but several kinds of yarn in varying rows.

I used to make a lot of knitted bags - specifically the Sophie felted bag with beaded handles. (sorry - I tried to find the pattern - it was free on MagKnits a while ago, and now that MagKnits has gone, I can't find it. I can't get the Knotions site to load, it might be there...) Because the felted fabric became so dense, there was no need to line these. However, when I make the little fair isle bags that are not felted, I do tend to sew in a lining. I sew, so whipping up a lining takes a few minutes on the machine, then I hand sew it to the top of the knitted bag. I try to find a tightly woven cotton, in a fun co-ordinating print, if possible. Simple stuff.
I usually don't put a closure on, but if it gapes, a quick sewn-on large snap does the trick.
I'll post pictures of the bag as it continues - I like these little bags for the quickness of them, and the dent they make in my (somewhat large) stash of Briggs and Little...

And I will detail the jewellery and cards I made while away - I'm stretching this out as much as i can, since I've had very little down time to knit since we've been back!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

cottage productivity

I've never thought of myself as an "A" type personality - I consider myself far too lazy and somewhat unambitious. However, I've been told I try to do too much by a number of people, so maybe I'm wrong. (I still think I enjoy laziness too much to qualify.)

For our week at the cottage, I brought a lot of stuff to potentially do - a variety to keep me interested, and lots of all of them in case something doesn't work out. (Don't get me wrong - there was a great deal of sitting around, having cocktails with friends, watching the kids swim (and joining them often), boat rides, fishing, and general cottage antics.) But there was also enough time to:

make some Christmas Cards: ( I give these by the dozen as gifts, and sell them as well)

make some jewellery: (I'll detail these in another post)

and knit on various things:

Luna cardigan - named as such because that's the name of the yarn - I bought 2 bags of this ages ago from Elann - a bag of black and a bag of this beautiful olive green. It's a cotton rayon blend - 1 ply of cotton and one of rayon - incredible drapiness, wonderful hand and subtle sheen. I love it. The cardigan is of my own design, making it up as I go along - it's stockinette, has a v-neck, raglan sleeves, with a small eyelet detail for the increases, and a garter stitch detail, both horizontally and vertically, that will end in some kind of diamond detail at the hem. I think. I haven't thought that far ahead, really.

I also worked on some socks - finished up one in Opal (yarn gifted to me by the ever generous Helga). I have to cast on the next one, and will do so this week. I also finished up a pair of bamboo socks - probably to be gifted to my Mom - they're not finished here, but I did finish them on the drive home. The sock mojo is returning!

I started a couple of cotton stretch socks - fast moving due to the thicker yarn, larger needles (3.0mm instead of my usual 2.25mm)and fewer stitches. I had forgotten my small circulars that I use to start toes, and started these on dpns - a little tough for the first couple of rounds, but doable. Good to know. I decided to work both of these at the same time (it's not like I don't have enough needles), and see how that goes.

I also started a little project - it's a purse-like bag - smallish, but not too small, in a Celtic circle pattern in some black and red Briggs and Little yarn I had hanging around. I've made bags like this before, in fair isle patterns, and they were well received as gifts, so I thought I would try it again.

So all in all, a good week. I relaxed with family, and did some things that make me happy. Can't ask for much more than that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

yeah, I'm back, but I'm not happy about it...

We had the perfect week. Weather was perfect, food was perfect, kids were, well, maybe not perfect, but as close as we could ask for.

I love the cottage, can't think of any better place to spend a summer week, my husband feels the same way, and we seem to instilled that feeling into our kid. Perfect.

Then we came home. The town decided to dig up a square of our driveway to replace a valve, but then did not repave it, so I have a 30cm square of gravel in the middle of the driveway. The newspaper (which I had stopped) did not stop until Wednesday, so my friend who was looking after the place, had extra stuff to lug into the house. And the best part - the main home computer decided to crap out. (I think it was virused). I can't get my email at home, all my pictures and music are stored on it (yes, I know I should back these things up. We talked about it at the cottage, and I was picking up a bunch of flash drives for that very reason this week). We can probably recover the data, but still. It pisses me off.

But... we had a great week off - I knit, I beaded, I made cards, I spent a whole lot of quality time with my husband, son and nephew (who had some homesickness issues, but we dealt with it). I cam back to work and found that most things were looked after for me while I was away (I had preplanned for most contingencies), so that was a nice surprise.

I will find some time to download the pictures of my crafty stuff soon - promise.

I really missed reading other's blogs! It's not enough of a reason to get wi-fi at the cottage, but it's close...

Friday, August 07, 2009

sittin' on the dock of the bay...

that's what I'll be doing for the next week. Sittin', knittin', readin', being with the family. We're heading to the cottage tomorrow, once my nephew finishes his baseball tournament, and staying for the week. I'll spend the morning shopping and packing, then we grab the kids and we're off. We're hoping we get away early enough to hit a few farm markets on the way - the early corn is ready, along with some other veggies, and there is nothing better than veggies still warm from the sun. Of course, we'll start our fresh produce bit in the boy's garden - we've already had a few days worth of green and yellow beans, so now we'll strip the plants as much as possible for the week.

I've already packed the necessities - knitting, beading projects and some card making supplies (the kids can help with them - I've stocked a bunch of kid-friendly stickers and such).

As far as knitting, I'm taking the olive green cotton/rayon Luna cardigan, some socks (2 pairs in progress, and enough yarn for a few others), more Noro Silk Garden for another Andrea poncho/skirt, and the never ending Montego Bay silk/merino scarf. On top of that, I've got enough beading material for numerous necklaces and chained bracelets (I'm dangerous around those DIY bead magazines...), and tons of stuff to make a whack of Christmas cards. (the kids can have the Halloween stickers and stuff). I know, I'm only going for a week. But what if the car breaks down, or a tree takes out the road, and we're stuck there? It could happen. (I'm ignoring the fact that there are telephones and other things that will stop this from being an issue, but it's my vacation and if I want to pretend it could go on forever, I will.)
But the kid and I are starting the vacay off right - tonight after work, we're heading off to see "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". He doesn't know it yet - I'll pick him up and head right to the theatre - curious to see how long it takes him to figure it out...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

yeah, I'll probably give this away...

I've finished the bulky cardigan. In theory, I do like it, probably more than I thought I would, but still - there's just something not right about it. Part of it is the bulky yarn on 5.5mm needles. I'm already bulky - I don't really need to play this up. But I could have overlooked that. Then the colours. Brown and blue together is one of my favourite combinations, but really, variegated wool should be kept to socks. This would have been much nicer in a heathered or kettle dyed yarn. Then again, as it is, it has a slightly Missoni look, and really isn't all that unattractive.

What is unattractive however is this: Romulan shoulders, anyone? No matter what I do, the shoulders look like shit. I'm going to try blocking them again and see if that helps - maybe some steam will soften the line. This was always planned as an outerwear type sweater, and the fit for that is good - it's long and comfy - all good things. I just can't get my head around the shoulder line.

And no, I won't rip back the sleeve and shoulder line to tighten it up - I don't love it nearly enough to spend that kind of time and effort on it.

If the steam doesn't work, I'll either give it to a family member that shows any interest in it, or give it to charity - someone will wear it.

Going forward, I'm working on the cotton/rayon olive green cardi I started a while ago, and have finally decided on a body pattern, I think. I'm just about at the stage where I will split off the sleeves, so I should make my decision soon. Then there's the never ending Montego Bay scarf, and some socks. My sock mojo is coming back and I'm flying though the half finished ones so I can start some new ones. Plus, with a week at the cottage looming for us, small projects are good. Those, and some bead projects, and some card making projects - that should keep me busy, in between spending much needed time with family and friends.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

citius, altius, fortius...

I'm not sure we were higher, faster or stronger, but we had a ton of fun at our family Olympics on the weekend! First off, the weather was actually summer -like for the majority of the weekend, which was a first, and on Sunday, we gathered 24 assorted family members and others for events such as water balloon tossing, 3-man slingshot launching, blind rowboating, and nail driving. (I kicked my husband's butt in the blind rowing - but I had way better callers that understood the difference between left and right - he was not so lucky.) However, all that counts is the time, and mine was better. So there. And my son! (here comes the proud mother bit...) in t he three man slingshot, most teams used the 20-40 year olds for strength and distance. His team (the flaming skulls), used him as the launcher , with a couple of 20ish cousins holding the ends. He hit the target bang on, a feat no other team could do! Other than the fact that that put his team ahead of mine in the standings, I was very proud of him.

I'm going against everything I've always said about posting recognizable pictures of my kid, but in a group this big, I'll take a chance. What a great group - ranging in age from 10 to 84, every generation got along, and it was hard to tell where the family left off and the friends started. Everyone was family for an afternoon and evening. We forget how important family is, and in this case, how much fun they are. I had more fun catching up with the 20-ish generation - they were my son's age the last time I saw some of them, and they've grown into some fine people, people I want my kid to emulate. And having cottages on the same lake will help with that - we just have to make more of an effort to do this again.

I know the Olympics are every 4 years, however, I really think in this family, we're going to make it an annual event.

And I did knit this weekend as well - there are finished pictures of the bulky cardigan, but since tonight is my Guild meeting, I'm going to give them first look at the finished product (they always get it second hand, after seeing the pictures here).