Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some knitting done...

Three more gnomes have joined the world. The small middle one is for my husband, and is knit using Knit Picks Fly fishing colourway. Fitting for a guy who fly fishes.
The two larger ones flanking him are potential gifts. We are spending New Years Eve at the cottage with 2 other families up there, and I'm prepared if any gifts get exchanged. We've never spend New Years with them (it's their first year on the lake, and the kids are all around the same age, so we've become good friends over the summer). Never quite sure of gift protocols in this instance, so I am prepared. The gnomes match cottage colour schemes, but if not exchanged, the gnomes will be quite at home in our own cottage.

We are really looking forward to New Years at the cottage - by far our favourite place to spend it - good friends, good food, no traffic, no crazies (well, except ourselves...). Not sure if any other family members will be joining us, right now it looks like it's just us. I'm secretly thrilled with this - it's a family cottage (his family), so alone time is pretty rare. I love 'em, but sometimes, distance is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love Mr. CatBookMom...

CatBookMom is an Internet knitting friend of mine, from way back in the days of the About forums.
I'm in Canada, just outside of Toronto, and she's in Burbank, CA. We've traded patterns, yarns, knitting notions and such over the years. (She gave me my first Chibi darning needle set).

I also (due to having to explain my screen name) introduced her and her husband to curling. It was around the time of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and she and I traded many a message about it.

So I was tickled pink to see this comment on my post about my niece playing for Team Canada:

Squeeing with happiness here! Called in DH to look at the mittens and tell him all about you and your talented niece. He said, "oh, yeah, that's the woman; we watched the Olympics curling on account of her."

Yup, Mr. CBM, that's me. And your wife keeps threatening to visit Ontario, o now you'll just have to come along. I'm impressed with anyone who can remember things like that. You will always be welcome here. We even make pretty good hard cider in this part of Canada...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

She LOVED the mittens!

As an explanation, I should say I'm a bit of an anomaly as a knitter. other than my husband, son, FIL and MIL, my entire family (and it numbers into the 20's, with assorted in-laws, nieces, nephews, etc). do not want me to knit for them. I have been directly told not to. No hats, mitts, nothing. The sisters in law have never been given the choice - when we exchanged gifts, they got knitted stuff, like it or not.
The nieces and nephews - well, I've been cognizant of their wishes to an extent. It's mostly from my husband's family that I get the "please don't knit" attitude.
But my brother's kids? They are learning the way of the hand knit. The mittens I made for my niece? Team Canada, and Brown University? So well received. the elegant and somewhat grown up 17 year old LAUNCHED herself at me to thank me. I tell ya, that made my Christmas. the rest of the day could be crap (and some of it was), but I DIDN'T CARE. i made them for her, she loved them. that's all that mattered. her mom, my SIL even asked if I could make her some Brown mitts for when she drove Sarah down to school. (She asked for the easy ones, so I said yes.)
Sarah (no last name - she;s not my child, it's not my place to publish, I'm even weird about using her first name...) is in Stockholm now, the team getting ready for their first game on January 1st. I''ll be following online (no TV coverage for the ladies, it seems...) and my brother is combining a business trip to Europe with the tournament.
I told her I understood about uniforms and such, and whether or not she could wear them, and her comment was that she didn't care. She was wearing them proudly. For family and Canada.
I teared up a bit a that, and if you know me, cynical me, that says a lot. I love this kid, and she can have anything knitted, anytime, anywhere. And now her brothers are putting out feelers for knits. Bring it on!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry, Joyeux, Feliz...

I had written a whole post about the drama and mayhem that seems to define our Christmas. I trashed it because, really, it's not about drama and mayhem. It's about family and friends. And that's how we'll be spending it. Starting at noon today (Christmas Eve) right through to Christmas night, we will be hither and yon, spending what we hope is quality time with the people we love. I will be with my husband and son, with my mom, with my brother and his family, with the husband's family, and with dear friends.

That's really all that matters.

To all of you out there, I wish you the best. May the worst day of your future be like the best days of your past.

(I'll recount the mayhem and drama next week. I shouldn't dwell on it, but once I can laugh about it, I'll share the best parts with you. they're not to be missed...)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the BEST gift of all

My niece, my beautiful, talented, athletic niece, has made the final cut. She's going to Stockholm, Sweden on December 27th, to play for Canada in the Womens Under-18 World Hockey Championships.

These will be a (hopefully) welcome addition to her travel wardrobe, and she'll know our love and best wishes are wrapped in every stitch.

They're wrapped and under the tree, and I can't wait to give them to her on the 25th. (I love this reindeer box!!)
She's made us proud, not just because she made the team, but she did so while maintaining a mid-90's academic average in her final year of high school, and is just a great, caring kid.
My brother and his wife are proud of her, as are the rest of the family. While I can't be in Stockholm, I'll be following along via the internet, keeping track of her triumph.
Go Canada!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

guest posting from Susan

My knitting/sewing/beading/any other craft that catches our eye buddy Susan shared these pictures and description about a necklace she made. She graciously allowed me to share this, and I;m thrilled to. One, because I think it'[s beautiful and should be shared, and two, I'm severely short of blog fodder this week - Thanks Susan!!

the below is a direct quote from Susan:

I was in a quandary about what to make my boss for her Christmas gift this year. As you know, I always make her something, usually knitted, or some beading. I bought some Fimo kit thingy at Michael's for a reduced price a while back that makes some Asian-themed pendants. So I looked at it and thought, let's try it. Needless to say, I'm thrilled with how this turned out. I rolled out said Fimo, cut out some shapes using their templates, carefully stamped them with some pigment inks, baked the stuff, sanded it, edged the pieces with a paint pen, glued the pieces together and shellacked the crap out of it. Then I just strung it on some black beading wire with black and orange/red beads from the stash, and here we are. I am really pleased with how it turned out.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thanks AlisonH!

A while ago, AlisonH and I were having a conversation off-blog, and it got around to a recipe she had made for a Maple Pecan Orange Strudel. She kindly posted it, and this weekend, I found the time to make it.
What do they say on that Food Network Show..."That's the Best Thing I Ever Ate!"
It was sooo good. I've wrapped up some as a gift, but that just means I have to get more pecans to make another one. My husband wants more!

Alison the only change I made was, instead of the sugar syrup poured over it once you take it out of the oven, I heated and reduced some maple syrup and used that. YUM-MEE!

Really people - I've linked to the recipe - print it, and make it. You won't regret it...

Friday, December 17, 2010

I love my star filter

but... maybe I need to put it away sometimes...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

it's all Wendy's fault!

At my last Guild meeting, Wendy showed a gnome she made for her grandson. I love these gnomes. I've made quite a few, and every year around this time, I seem to get the urge to make more. Seeing Wendy's just confirmed it. I need to make gnomes!
I have a gnome, my son has a gnome, so my husband should get a gnome. And since he fly fishes, he should have a gnome in the Fly Fishing colourway from Knitpicks (especially since I had an extra ball of it lying around).
Then I thought the boy's teacher would like a gnome, sort of a classroom mascot (she's the type of teacher that would appreciate this). So I started another gnome, using some nice rustic green and grey Briggs and Little I had.
Halfway through that, my husband mentions that I should have used the school colours. Damn! He's right! Go stash diving and come up with a gold and black combination for the school. Put that to the top of the queue, and get going on that - last day of school is this week.
Well, the school one is done,

 the green and grey is done except for the sewing, stuffing, and a beard - total about one evening's work. The Fly Fishing one - well, as usual, the husband's gift got put to the bottom of the queue, so he'll be lucky to get it for Christmas!

And yes, I still want to make more, but the deathflake mittens are calling to me...

Monday, December 13, 2010

the main project

I`ve been knitting on this project for a while, but have never blogged it. not sure why, just didn`t happen until now.

It`s a hooded vest - pattern is Truman from Berrocco. It`s designed to be knit with a tweedy, kind of rustic yarn, but I did a bit of a stash dive and came up with this Australian Merino is a basic beige-y, taupe-y colour. It`s either going to look great and go with lots of my clothes, or look like crap on me and be perfect for someone else. Same sort of situation that most of knitting falls into!

It`s a nice squooshy yarn, so it`s a fun knit, and the 3 row repeat for the patterned part is easy to remember and easy to do. So other than keeping track of where I am in the pattern, it`s pretty much a no brainer, which is good right now. There are other projects on the go (okay, really, who`s surprised to hear THAT?), but I`ll give them their own post.

Friday, December 10, 2010

when I rule the world...

Families would be easier to deal with and not come with So. Much. Drama.

Carbs would be a wonder weight loss aid. (I love fresh baked bread and pastas...)

My knees would let me play basketball as well as I can coach it.

My son`s sprained ankle won`t jeopardize his chances of making the school basketball team.

I would be able to ski and skate so much better than I actually do.

My Dad would still be alive and know my son. They would really like each other.

As a corollary to the above - good people would stay around, bad people wouldn't. (I'm talkin' to you, Kim Jong-Il!)

Cashiers in stores, when "helping" me, would be talking to me, not their friends about the party they were at last noght, and whether that boy really likes her, or is just using her.

There were 40 hours in a day, and 10 days in a week - 5 of them Saturdays.

Sewing machines wouldn't use bobbins. I'd rather buy two spools of thread than wind bobbins, and run out with 6 inches left in a seam.

I will always have what I need in the house, when I need it (I'm talking to you, 1/4 inch elastic, and icing sugar!)

Airports and travel would be as easy and friendly as it was 20 years ao. Damn Al-Queda for making a three hour flight take an entire day, and delaying my Mom's flight so I have to kill time...

Can you tell it`s been a rough week√Č

Thursday, December 09, 2010

field trip

I love having the flexibility to take a day off when my kid's class has a field trip. This week the grade sixes went to the Toronto Zoo, and I (and a few other parents) tagged along.
I love the Zoo. I really do. Especially on very quiet days when we were among the few people there. We got to see more than usual, and a little of the behind the scenes stuff.
We were in the outdoor as well as indoor exhibits.

A Jellyfish.
These were very cool - there was a whole tank of them, and the light was shining, so I had to go no flash in the dark to see them properly.
Also inside was the Komodo dragons, lazing about. The kids thought it was hilarious that she kept sticking her tongue out at us.
This Indian rhinoceros was pretty good - we got to get pretty close, and then the kids in my group (understand I had 10 boys), fell over themselves laughing when he stared at them, then turned his back and took a giant dump. Yeah, there's commentary for you... And no, I didn`t take a picture of the steaming pile. Or at least, not one I would post. My son demanded we take at least one...

But in winter, the outdoor exhibits are the way to go, if you pick the right animals, and the right time.
We got to the river otters just before feeding, so they were hanging around, thinking we were going to be throwing food down to them. Sorry buddies, we had nothing for you.

The two best were the polar bears:

and the Amur tiger (formerly known as the Siberian tiger. Who knew they changed the name) Tatiana the tiger was having lunch, and gnawing on the thigh bone of a horse. Again, something the boys found fascinating, especially when she was ripping strips of meat off it.
Of course, the 10 boys in my group were the most active animals I dealt with all day - man was I tired when I got home that night! I did do some knitting on the bus there and back, and there were a few girls interested in what I was doing. I may do a knitting class during the school year. To be honest, I`m not the best person to teach kids - my patience or lack thereof rivals theirs, but we`ll see.

All in all, a pretty good day!

Monday, December 06, 2010

revisiting some UFO's

I was digging around in some UFO's and I came up with these two. Both lace, both very nice, but a problem with one.
 This is the Fiddlesticks Whisper Scarf, knit in a cream Silk/wool Zephyr. Beautiful, soft, squooshy, and has been sitting for well over a year with just this amount done. I couldn't figure out why I let it go, so I picked it up and knit a few rows. Ah, there's the problem. The needle size is just a little small. It's tight on the needles, needing quite a push to get the stitches into knittable positions. Frustrating. Then I spread it out a bit, and noticed a couple of my YO, k2tog's were actually made as k2tog,YO. Not a big deal, and really only noticeable to me or other knitters, but when combined with the tightness, I frogged it. I will revisit this project with a slightly bigger needle. It will be so much more enjoyable.

Then I found this:
It's yet another 198 yds. of Heaven (sorry for the Ravelry link, but that's all there is. It's a free pattern, so worth the click over). It's a Punta Yarn in mohair and nylon, in some stunning colours. Again, not sure why it got dumped, but it's back, and it's my go to lace pattern for now. I also have a mostly stockinette pattern on the go, so it's nice to have options.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

I think I'm done!

I finished the Team Canada mittens for my niece:

 and it's amazing what a little soak in Eucalan will do. They softened and stretched just a bit, making them the perfect size and feel.
They're drying now, and upon perusing my list, I find that I really only have a few gift cards left to get, and a few prezzies, and I'm done. This is unheard of for a knitter. But then again, I'm a knitter surrounded by people who really don't appreciate the hand knits, so I'm not sure that's a good thing. I wish my other seven nieces and nephews would ask for hand knits - I'd spend the year knitting for them. But they don't, even though I offer every year. Sigh. Although gift cards have been requested, I'm on the hunt for some gift card puzzle boxes. I've seen them in catalogues, but that entails shipping charges, and when added to the cost of the puzzle box, well, I'd rather give the kids the money instead. So I'm going to hunt through the dollar stores and see what I can come up with.

But... I could dust off the knitting machine and knit up the sweater for my friend Sue that her Mom was going to make for her. Her mom passed away this summer, and Sue gave me a bunch of her knitting supplies. Mom was a big fan of acrylic, unfortunately, but I did find a basic cardigan and black and white marled acrylic that was marked for Sue. I think I will make it up for her, and as much as I love Sue, it's a machine knit - I can't bear to do it by hand.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

before I get to spoil myself...

I still have the Team Canada mittens to finish.
Time shouldn't be a problem with these - they are moving right along, at least they are when I pick them up and work on them...

Half a mitten and two thumbs left to go - no problem...

Monday, November 29, 2010

well, that changes things!

I was talking with one of my sisters in law. We were discussing (via email) Christmas, and what the kids want, and what we should do for the parents. (We're married to brothers, and there are 3 sisters in the family as well - husband is one of five kids). She threw out a "what do you think about maybe, possibly not exchanging gifts among the girls in the family?" (We 5 girls (sisters in law) have always exchanged a little something at Christmas - the boys don't). She was wondering about doing it next year, but I came back with why not instigate it this year? Let's keep it to the kids - and a little something for the parents, but we can easily ignore this generation. She was surprised because she thought I would want to keep it on, as i always knit or craft something for each of them, and she knows how long that takes. No problem! I can reassign those scarves and necklaces to others on my list, quite easily.

What this changes is my new found increase in time. I've now got several gifts (ruffled scarves and semi precious gemstone necklaces) that can be given to people, and the time I has sort of allocated to making things for them has now become mine!

So all of a sudden, sewing and knitting for myself gets to take centre stage in December! It's been a long time since I've had that luxury, and I'm unsure what to do with it! I have grandiose plans for sweaters and suits, and a whole slew of new pajama pants, all for me!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

turkey day for some...

As a Canadian, I celebrated our Thanksgiving last month. Usually, I'm in Florida right around this time, enjoying some golf, some sun, and seeing my Mom. But this year, with the job uncertainty and such, I didn't go. (I'm still hoping to snag a few days in the spring when she's back down).

She's spending Thanksgiving with friends, and I'll be wishing I was watching the Parade on TV, and trying not to look outside at the rainy cold weather, while I imagine I'm in Largo, FL, helping Mom with a turkey, and planning our shopping excursions for the next day. As it is, Mom has a big enough list of stuff she's after - she's not crazy about it, and doesn't get up early, but she usually finds some deals.
To my American Friends - enjoy this time with family and friends, whether you're together in person or in spirit.

Wish I was there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

crappy pictures, but...

 Sorry for the horrifically bad pictures, but I'm alone (husband at poker, child at a friend's), and my tripod is not around, you I've had to take pictures of myself, on a grey, drizzly evening, of grey and black clothing.
Apologies up front.

So I wanted a grey flannel pencil skirt. Classic, wear with anything kind of skirt. Great with heeled boots, flat boots, or shoes.
So here it is.

 I call these my "death by boots" boots. They are very pointy, very high heeled, come up to the knee with silk ribbon lacing at the top. My husband has another name for them, a-hem. we won't discuss what that is.

Sorry to say the picture that shows the best part of this skirt didn't come out. It's stretch! It's a heavy ponte knit I got at Fabricland on the weekend. Heavier than most of them, and there's a touch of Lycra in it. It's got a flannel-y fleck to it, and it's beautiful. All I did was take an existing knit skirt I own and draft a pattern - basically a long rectangle, with a bit of waist shaping. Sewed the side seams, hemmed it, added a casing of elastic. Done in under an hour.
And I even had enough fabric left over to do it again, only shorter:
 So comfortable, so easy and goes with everything. Hard to beat. Fabricland is having their member's sale this weekend, and I might just have to go back for more - the table of ponte knit was pretty full with tons of colours. Hard to go wrong with a classic style.

Then there's this top. I saw it on a blog somewhere. Here! I saw it here! (I knew I had seen it somewhere recently...) Hers shows the concept much better, because I took this picture on the aforementioned grey evening, and it's a black top. But it's basically a crinkly black silky knit - two rectangles, and it skims over my hips in a tunic length. Worn with a simple skirt or slim fit pants, I think I have my holiday party top. (We always have one dinner around this time of year when I need to clean myself up.)
(another shot of the killer boots). They are good for times when I will be spending a lot of time sitting - not good for big walking or standing days. Especially this time of year when I'm still wearing the flip flops whenever possible.

I made this top first in a throwaway cotton print I had lying around, just to see if the style would suit me. The first time, I made it with the sleeves right down to the wrist, but that made the "wing" part too prominent, too poufy and strong. So on this black one, the sleeves come to the elbow, and it adds just the right amount of swing when I wear it. Who knew I'd get so much pleasure out of hemming and sewing two rectangles together?

Friday, November 19, 2010

another one for the gift pile

Is it a ruffled ball?
 hang on, let me spread it out for you...
 a barbell? I could do a couple of hundred reps with this weight...
 no... it's yet another Churchmouse Barb'sKoigu Ruffle (not made in Koigu)
Doesn't look like much on the table, but a simple knot at the neck, and this really looks good. (Okay, maybe not in this picture, but picture it tucked into the neck of a jacket, with just a cascade of ruffles tumbling out.
 Yummy. And I have to thank Needles again for gifting me with this pattern. I've now made it twice and plan on a few more. It's classic and timeless and beautiful.

Oh, and the yarn is a merino/silk/linen blend I picked up somewhere. Lovely earthy colours, and I have no idea who makes it or where I got it. Probably a fair somewhere - either Kitchener or the Knitters Frolic.
And yes, I know if I bothered to use Ravelry and all it's bits and pieces, I'd know where I got it and when, and how much I had, and who made it. But I don't use Ravelry that way. I'm too damn lazy to catalogue all my stuff, and really, I kind of enjoy finding "new" things when I give the stash a toss every now and then...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

what to do, what to do

I made this sweater earlier this summer - I had bought a couple of balls of Rowan something or other (sorry - lost the tags) that was a chunky weight. The blue colour perfectly matched a linen top and skirt I was sewing, so I decided on a cardigan to go over the sleeveless top. Of course, when I went to knit it, I only found the one ball, so an abbreviated sweater was born. Short sleeves, shorter length than I planned, but still fine for the purpose I wanted it for.

 Then recently, this happened.
Yeah, I found the other ball. I know it's enough for a quick sweater that I could gift, or I could pull out the bind offs and lengthen both the sleeves and the body. With winter coming, I think I'll be adding to this one rather than run the risk of the "matching sweater" conundrum. (I'd hate to give one to a friend, then both wear it at the same time. It's happened, and it's not pretty. I mean, it's bad enough when kids wear matchy-matchy, adults should not do it unless we're talking uniform or Halloween.)
Now if I could only remember what needle size I used...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

R'uh R'oh, Shaggy...

(sorry, we're big Scooby Doo fans around here...)

I started the decreases for my niece's Canada mittens, when I decided to try them on. Hmmmm, there seems to be a couple of centimetres of finger sticking out in the place where about 1 centimetre of mitten would be, if I continue the decreases as is.
Houston, we have a problem.
(yes, I'm mixing my movie metaphors)

 but, other than that small problem, they're looking really good! (says the knitter and designer, so no bias here, noooo, none at all...)

 Of course, the next step was to rip back to before I started decreasing, and extend the length of the mitten before I start the decreases again. Crap. I was hoping to have this one finished already and start mitten number two.

Soon. Soon these will be done, and this kid will be crossed off the Christmas list... Unless she asks for something else. I'm a sucker if kids actually ask for hand crafted things...

Monday, November 15, 2010

I don't care what my husband says...

I think this just might be going on my front door this year...

Different colour scheme of course, I'm SO not a pastelly kind of girl. But it different greens and reds? Oh yeah, baby!

He can make a fly fishing wreath for next year

Friday, November 12, 2010

so cool! yet so hard to get...

 Leafing through Canadian House and Home magazine, I came across these metal stencils. (You can add a decorative touch to your desserts and coffees). Look up close:
Yeah, I did the research. She's in Iceland, it it would cost far more than even I could justify as something frivolous. But so cool...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

11th hour, 11th day, 11th month

Knitting stuff will return tomorrow. Today I remember my Dad, a veteran of the Korean War (Royal Canadian Navy) , My Grandfather, a WW1 vet (Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment, British Army), and my husband's Grandfather, a WW1 vet (The Black Watch), as well as those who have served and serve now. I may not always agree with the wars the fight, but I support them being there and doing what they do, allowing me the freedom to do what I do.

The three men above aren't with us anymore, but that doesn't mean they are forgotten.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

sweet sixteen

My niece turned 16 recently, and after several futile attempts at trying to get gift ideas from her mom, I went right to the source, emailing the girl herself.
While she was lovely, and said we didn't have to do anything, once she found out I like jewellery making, put in a request.
During my recent gift bag making splurge, I dug out some embroidered satin remnants (left over from her pajama pants of last year).

Whipped up a quick little bag, and filled it with these.

I got these great metal boxes when we cleaned out sample closets at my old work place - I ended up with boxes of them! I filled each of them with a different piece (or pieces) of jewellery.

beaded rings (these are so easy to make, I can whip up more for myself if I need to)

A memory wire bracelet, and matching glass circle pendant on beaded chains

a knitted beaded choker I made ages ago and forgot about!

 a turquoise and wood bead necklace with the teen requested peace sign

 3 sets of earrings (again with the peace sign)

and a bracelet.

She only turns sixteen once...