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.

Monday, November 02, 2009

new stuff

Since I finished one project (the Montego Bay Scarf), I thought I would start a new one. (I know, I know, I just showed you the multitudes of things I have on the go. Remember the title of that post? I'm fickle. and obviously possessing of a short attention span...)
But... there are two good reasons for the project I chose to start. One - it will be a Christmas gift for a friend. A University of Ottawa-attending friend. For those that know Ottawa in winter - it's cold, so she NEEDS these. Second, I'm doing a mini workshop at Tuesday's Guild meeting on this technique, so I needed to practice on and have to show. Right. Both excellent reasons for digging into my roving stash for some thrummed mitts. (The irony that I'm probably not going to stop at one pair of these is not lost on me. Yes, all other projects are being left behind...)
This grey and red pair (colours of the University of Ottawa) are for the daughter of my son's sitter, and will be very welcome. Then there's probably a black and gold pair for son's teacher (school colours - those winter days of playground duty can get a little chilly...) Then I found the grey alpaca roving, and well, yeah, I think I need a pair of these as well. I mean, I can't really give someone a gift I haven't road tested myself? Can I?