Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry CHristmas all!

For those that celebrate Christmas - I hope you have a wonderful weekend, doing whatever it is you do to celebrate. For those that celebrate other holidays - I hope they are as wonderful as they can be.
If you don't celebrate anything at this time of year, I hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with whatever it is that makes you happy.
I'll be back at some point next week - I'll surface after Christmas to possibly tell the tale of our day - how we combine my family, our friends, and my husband's family. It's always funny... And of course we will be heading to the cottage for New Year's as always - as soon as my husband can get away, or sooner if the boy and I decide we'd rather be there than home, and the hubby can join us later on - I'm off all next week, while he has some work stuff to take care of.

Best to all...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

last gift done!

I finished My Mom's flamingo last week, and that was pretty much the last of the Christmas knitting (except for the Baby Surprise Jacket).
It's far too cute for it's own good, and I can see my Mom getting a good laugh over it. I know she will take it to Florida with her, and I can even hazard a good guess as to where it will end up in her house down there... The only problem is I can also see some of her friends down there putting in requests for one of their own...

It's a free pattern from Spud and Chloe, and can be found here. THe only changes I made were the yarns (I used some Briggs and Little I had in my stash in the right colours), and because of that, I also increased the size of the needles to match the yarn. (I find it funny that a Florida flamingo is knitted out of a quintessential Canadian Wool.) I also just stuffed the whole thing with fibrefill, rather than the super ball they used. Other than that - pretty much as they made it! If I do it again, I may think about putting pipecleaners in the legs for a little more substance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dahlia done!

I finished my Dahlia sweater a while ago, and have finally got around to taking some (crappy) pictures. I promise to try and get some modelled shots soon, but I wanted to post this before I forgot.

I love this sweater for a number of reasons. One - it's made of Elsbeth Lavold's Silky Wool, one of my all time favourite yarns to knit with. Love. This. Stuff. Two - it;s red. A great, blue toned red, that looks great on me. Three - the pattern - Dahlia has a wonderful floral lace back insert, and an unique construction. I got slowed down by the endless stockinette for the fronts, but made up my mind to power through it, because I really wanted this sweater to wear on Christmas Day.
The one downside - I wish I had just one more ball of wool - The sleeves are just below the elbow, and while this is okay, I would probably be happier with a few more inches of sleeve length.
Please note that having it draped on the dressmaker's mannequin does not even come close to doing it justice - it looks so much better on. I can wear it either loose and draped down the front, or with a cross over neckline,

anchored with a small pin. Either way looks great, and I can see a lot of use out of this.

Merry Christmas to ME!

Monday, December 19, 2011

quick addition

So my son's teacher let drop that he and his wife are expecting a baby. (at the end of June - how to take a stressful month for a teacher and send it OVER the top!) Anyway - he's a great guy, and has been absolutely wonderful so far this year with my son (and the whole class).
I had already planned on a pair of hand knit socks for Mr. L, but then thought about the fact he's so excited about this baby, and already has a toddler and (obviously) a wife, and well, because I always go over the top, I dug around my stash of gifts, and found a pair of toddler socks that had never been gifted (I think I knit them for my son years ago, and he outgrew them before I finished them...), and I have a multitude of scarves that could be gifted to his wife, but the baby... Well, I had a week, so...
 Yup - a Baby Surprise Jacket.

In a reasonably unisex colourway of Katia Jamaica 100% cotton. The best part of using this yarn? I already have a bunch of mitres squares made from it, and will have enough left over to make a stroller sized blanket to match the sweater! (The blanket will be an end of year gift.)

I should be done the sweater by Wednesday, so I can wrap everything up for the boy to take to school on Friday. I'll try and get a picture of all 4 items before I wrap them.

I knew having a stash of already knitted stuff, and access to "quick-to-make" patterns would come in handy one day...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

almost completely hand crafted

We had our company holiday dinner this week. We're a small company, and the CEO took all of us to the fabulous little restaurant and we had a great meal, with great people.
Now, my work clothing is usually pretty casual - jeans and sweaters are the norm, but for this, obviously I put out a little extra effort. And the best part?
Pants - hand sewn.
Sweater - hand knit.
Jewellery - hand crafted.

Other than the top and boots, I made it all!
I kind of proud of that. Especially because of all the compliments I received. Most recognized the sweater as hand knit, because most people here know I knit. I did mention I made the jewellery, but not the pants - that seemed a little strange to me...
 There are actually 5 bracelets there. I jumped on the trend of loading up the wrist...
Whatever - I was proud of myself.

And sorry for the office bathroom shots, but it was the only way to get a reasonably well lit full length shot. And looking at it - it's not as bad as I expected.

Oh! and I just realized, I'm even wearing hand knit socks! Go Me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

just because

Because my Mom spends part of the year in Florida, and because she's my Mom, and because I couldn't resist...

I'm knitting my Mom a flamingo for Christmas. Most people have gnomes from me in their house, but for Florida, I think my Mom needs a flamingo.

I knit this much last night, the legs this morning, and I just have the wings and tail left. I'll show the completed bird soon.

And yes, I laugh when I knit this. I mean, c'mon! It's a FLAMINGO!

Friday, December 09, 2011

idea stolen from Knit Tech

Knit Tech often posts pictures of "down her street". I was driving to work earlier this week, and thought this would be a pretty shot. This isn't really my street, but it's close...

Plus it fills a blog post when I've only got half done sock heels, and ideas of how to finish 5 hats in a blink of an eye (5 hats that haven't been started yet...)

And some replies to the pajama post...
Deirdre wanted to know which pattern I use - pajama pants are so standard, I use whichever one is on sale when I buy them. What I look for is a basic pant - straight legged, elastic waist - match up the waist and inseam to whoever you ware sewing for and off you go. What you want is a pattern that has 2 pieces for the pants - a front and a back. Period. No other extraneous pieces. When you cut - you have two fronts and two backs. Regardless of what the directions say, I do this:
sew inseam seam. press open.
sew crotch seam. press open.
flip around and sew outseams. press seams open.
press hems and sew. Press casing for elastic, sew, leaving opening at back (I also sew a ribbon tag at back to help putting them on...)
Insert elastic, sew ends together (making sure it's not twisted), sew opening closed. Done. I production line this process, so any fabrics that use the same colour thread, all get done at the same time. That's why I can do it so quickly. Also, I don't finish the edges. I don't want a seam with a folded or serged edge, I like the slight ravelling you get - it makes the seams softer, and softness is key with pajamas. Plus it saves time! And if your pjs wear out, well, you get to make more! For my son (who's approximately 5'7" now, I usually buy 2.5 metres - once I prewash it and shrink it if necessary, it's usually enough. For anyone taller, buy a bit more. There's usually enough left over to make a small drawstring bag as well if you want. I find I make a ton of bags with my scraps - great for wrapping!
My local fabric store, Fabricland, has a super selection of flannels and cottons suitable for pajama pants - we have fun with the patterns, since they are PAJAMAS, and really shouldn't be taken seriously. What's the fun in serious pajamas??
Dee - maybe we need to have a pajams sewing meetup-workshop - I know LuckyCanuck wants in on that as well!

And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who still thinks thank-yous are important. My son still sends out thank you notes. He has to be prodded, and he's not always thrilled about it, but he gets why he has to do it. Funny how surprised many people are in getting them. This year, he will probably be sending emails instead of hand written notes, but that's okay.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I've spoken of sewing pajama pants before. I'm a well-oiled machine when it comes to making these in bulk. Seriously,. I can make a pair in about an hour - cutting, sewing. elastic inserted, everything. I love them (and would live in them, except my husband takes offense when I try to wear them as clothes outside the house...), and my son loves them. I made a bunch for my nieces and nephews a couple of years back, and heard nothing about them, so I assumed they were not well received. Turns out they are, and the kids were disappointed last year when they didn't get new ones. Too bad. Should have said something to me... As I've said to their mothers - these kids are totally old enough to talk to me direct - even by text or email. (One SIL actually had the gall to say to me her son didn't think I knew how to text! This is the same kid that was all over my Blackberry Torch last year, calling me the "cool aunt" for having the latest technology!)
So I cut them no slack - we have a family list that notes everyone's address, email, cell number etc. There is no excuse for not getting in touch with me. Two of the nephews asked for pants again this year, so two are getting them, along with some other people.

This is the total so far (Not all made this past weekend - some have been done for a while...) 10 pairs:

My son gets the fish and basketball ones:

The two dance patterned one (in their own drawstring bags from the leftover fabric) are for the two girls at the cottage - their parents are great friends of ours, and the girls and our boys are inseperable all the time up there):

The Elvis ones are for my friend Sue - a huge Elvis fan, and fan of pajama pants like I am.

The others will be given to the boys, or kept for future needs. That's a ton of items checked of my to-do list!
If only the knitting would go as quickly...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Canada Post is making my life difficult...

I ordered some stuff from Knit Picks. (Because, you know, I NEEDED more wool and stuff...) I got a notice from Canada Post that it had entered their system, and was to be delivered on December 2. Perfect! Friday, I'm working at home, so I can get it before the weekend, and start some stuff I think I can finish before Christmas (because, you know, I'm in total denial as to what day it actually is...) The morning of the 2nd, I check Canada Post again, and find out it's now being delayed until Monday December 5th! Because from it's arrival in Mississauga, ON, (about 45km from my house) Canada Post decided to send it to Stoney Creek, ON (about 120km further west), then to MONTREAL, QC (about 560km EAST!!) before sending it back to Mississauga!
Yeah, I'm ticked. On top of all that, it wasn't delivered Monday, even though the Canada Post website said it was in Aurora. (Aurora is not that big a town - if it was there Monday morning, it should have been at my house that day...)
Now it's Tuesday, and I checked the website - it says it has been successfully delivered.
Let's hope so...

Friday, December 02, 2011

the last of the glitzy sewing

Sewing for myself now takes a back burner. It's December 1st, and Christmas gifts now take precedence, both in sewing and knitting.

But before that happens, I finished one more thing for me.

This jacket was a quick sew, even with princess seams and a waist seam.

I did change the tie - instead of the self ties attached to the front (they were kind of awkward), I simply made a couple of belt loops and used an existing silk scarf I had.

I had the perfect hemp yarn in the perfect colour to make the belt loops.

The fabric is a shot silk/polyester blend - it's actually a bright yellow warp with a black weft yarn, and together the make this greenish tone. It's really pretty, and shines differently when the light hits it at different angles. It's perfect with some wide legged black washed satin pants, and a black silk shell. That should do it for my Christmas party needs.

Mind you, I'd rather be wearing jammie pants, yoga pants or jeans and one of my beloved hoodies. But circumstances dictate that I have to look and act like a grownup a few times during the next month, so I bite the bullet and do it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a couple of quick gifts

My Mom and my MIL are not the easiest people to buy for at Christmas. But this year, not only have we succeeded, we have done so, early!
For my MIL - she wanted a new Tassimo coffee maker. She loves the lattes, and their old one have finally given up the ghost, so when Zellers had a sale a few weeks back, I was there. Score.
My Mom - well, she doesn't want things. She's trying to get rid of things (usually trying to pawn them off on my brother or myself, or when she's being sneaky, on the grandchildren). Either way, she's really getting rid of big things. But she loves musicals (as do I), so she and I will see West Side Story, and the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts when it comes in May. The bonus is my husband can cross a gift for me off his to-do list for December 24th - he can give me MY ticket. (Yes, he shops on the 24th - in the man-zoo that is the mall...)
But there is still the need for the filler gifts. The little things that are useful, but not thought of. Surprises, so to speak.
Enter the bird pincushion

Far too cute for their own good, and super easy to make, with minimal hand sewing. Wrapped with a package of ball-head pins and some sewing needles, it's a nice addition for both ofthem, since they both sew and do hand work. The birds are weighted with rice at the bottom, and sit nicely.

And yes there are three of them. I had to test it out first, didn't I? The green one is all mine...

Friday, November 25, 2011

I may need a colourwork intervention...

Meet my next project. really, how do I resist this - Skulls AND flowers...

I even have the wool all ready...

It's a Knit Picks downloadable pattern by the way.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

not finished with the colourwork yet...

Meet alpaca colourwork hat version 2.0

The first one, I cobbled together a pattern, but didn't realize until knitting it, that:

1. It was too short, and

2. the rate of decrease at the top gave it a distinctive conehead look. Not attractive.

So considering these don't take long - (Really, Knit Tech, get your butt into colourwork - it's so easy and so very fast!!) - I knocked up another one, after fiddling with the pattern (making it longer, and changing the rate of decrease.) As I neared the top, I realized I still needed to quicken it up, so I changed the top on the go, and It turned out quite nice.

To block hats, I use a balloon, set upon a cup. Works amazingly well, and shapes the hat perfectly.

Here you can see the difference between prototype version 1.0 and better version 2.0. The first version on the left has a distinctive cone-ish look. The second one on the right is much more rounded.

Plus, this is after blocking. I severly blocked the first one. Before blocking, the only head it would have fit is:
And as much as I like Dan Ackroyd, I'm not mailing him a hat...

This goes in the Giftmas box (a term totally stolen from Carol - thanks Carol!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

more glitzy sewing...

While the glitter top was nice, I'm not really a glittery girl. I like a more subtle shine. So this fabric, with it's clear sequins for a tone on tone effect, and more neutral colour is more my style.

A simple knit tee shape really lets the fabric be the star. This top, with some wide legged satin pants is perfect for one dinner we have to attend this season. I know there are more events coming, but I'm trying to avoid thinking about them.
Any time I need to dress is something beyond my usual jeans and hoodies is not something I really look forward to...

Monday, November 21, 2011

wearable muslins

Wearable muslin is a sewing term. A muslin is a sort of "test garment" - one made quite roughly to check fit and suitability of a pattern before using the more expensive fabric. A "wearable" muslin is one from a fabric that, while not necessarily cheap, is one that can be tossed if the pattern doesn't work out.
Now, I've been after some t-shirts for a bit, a t-shirt, but more than just a t-shirt, if you know what I mean. Something for the cottage, but with a little more style than a basic crew neck t-shirt, which by the way, does nothing to make me look good...
I saw this pattern (McCalls 6241) and thought I'd give it a try. It was still pretty basic, but had enough interest to take it beyond a simple tee.
Now, I had some white fabric I wanted to use - plain white, but a cotton/lycra blend with moisture wicking properties. I bought it for the weight - it had a lovely hand and enough weight to know it would hold up. But at $19.00/metre, I wanted to test the pattern first. Hence the wearable muslins. the first one was a serious fabric departure for me. Totally fake fibres, and glitter? Me? But yes, with the Christmas season approaching I needed something with some shine.

Surprisingly, this worked out well. Far better than I ever would have expected. (And since the fabric was only $7.00/metre, if it didn't, no big loss.
But I also wanted to try it in a more natural fabric (you know me and the fake stuff...) so I found this cotton blend knit in my stash and decided to try the longer sleeve version.

Again - nice enough to wear. Some things I noticed - I'm okay with the shoulder pleats, but don't necessarily need them all the time. I love the front neckline drape. The bottom could use a little more width - my tummy doesn't need to be hugged so much with a lighter weight fabric! So I've redrafted it a bit, and will go after the more spendy fabric soon.

Wearable muslins are good.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

still loving colourwork...

I have the 4 seasons hat pattern from Tanis Fibre arts. Can I tell you how much I love this pattern? (Other than the corrugated ribbing. While I love the look of corrugated ribbing, I hate doing it. But, because I love the look, I do it. Grudgingly...)
I started this colourwork hat last week sometime, using up the remaining Palette Wool from the kit for my son's hat (the greens I used and the blues that I replaced were perfect for this pattern!)

The bird pattern is so freaking cute!!

It looks done here, but there's still some work to do:

The downfall of colourwork - ends. I know I could carry them up the side, and in some cases I did, but never more than two or three rows - I don't like how it pulls when I do that.

A Sunday morning with coffee, darning needle and scissors:

I forgot to take blocking pictures - blocking is ESSENTIAL for colourwork - it evens out the ripply, bumpy texture and makes everything look the way it's supposed to. I block hats over a balloon. Gives it a nice shape.
I borrowed my son's noggin to show how it fits - it's a slouchy hat, longer than a beanie.

I didn't really show him the hat before I grabbed his head, which was a good thing. Once he saw it, he was horrified. "That's a GIRL's hat, Mom!" Yes dear, but it's not for you, I answered. I just needed a picture.
He was fine with that until he realized something.

"You make hats for OTHER people??"

Monday, November 14, 2011

forgot to show you this

The woven scarf for my boss.

I finished it a while ago, gave it a soak, and laid it out to dry. Then I trimmed the fringe, (on my husband's recommendation) and voila! A manly scarf, in the colours he requested, and super soft and comfy. The stripy pattern came out perfectly - highlighting both the red and the white, while being grounded by the black and grey tones.

This is sitting in the gift box, waiting for wrapping. A gift box, which I have to say, is starting to fill up nicely. Now I just have to decide who gets what...

And on a totally off topic - I am SO glad spell check exists! For whatever reason, I could not spell ANYTHING in this post. Really. My fingers totally disconnected from my brain...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest we forget

at the 11th minute of the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month,
in the year 2011,
I will remember.

And in honor of my Dad, I will probably shed a tear.
(My Dad, on the HMCS Iroquois, off the coast of Korea, circa 1952)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

tangled loyalties

A little background - I went to McMaster University. (I also attended Ryerson, but I mostly identify with Mac - go Marauders!). My husband is a Queen's boy. (Family history, his father also went to Queen's - quarterback of the football team, 1952). There is a bit of rivalry in the house, more so since the boy has been to Queen's and has decided (at age 12) that he will continue the patriarchal family history and go to Queen's. I'm outnumbered.
I was especially outnumbered last weekend when my in-laws came to dinner, and the two schools were meeting in the semis of the Yates Cup (Ontario University Football Championship). And to top it off, I was knitting this:

yes, that's a hat in the Queen's colours. (I may be a staunch Mac supporter, but a friend's son attends Queen's and requested a hat. He asks, I knit.)

Knitting and being outnumbered mattered little. Mac CRUSHED Queen's 40-13 to go on to the Yates Cup this coming weekend, vs University of Western Ontario. The schools are rated 3 and 4 in Canada, so it should be a great game, but whatever the outcome, it really only matters that Mac beat Queen's.

Now where's my Silver and Maroon wool? I think my son needs a hat in the colours of a winner...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

obsession two - done!

Not only did I get the hat done, the pink cashmere-blend scarf also got off the needles! I love this pattern as much now as when I started, which says something for me. I don't often repeat lace patterns, and certainly not immediately after, but I'm going to use my delicious gifted (from Needles) Alberta alpaca for another one of these scarves.
This luscious pink cashmere blend (also a gift from the lovely Carol) knit up so beautifully, and is so soft and squooshy, I didn't want it to end. I kept knitting as long as I possibly could, and squeezed out an extra repeat of the pattern. And when I say squeezed out, I mean it. This is how much I had left.
Blocking also does wonders for this yarn and pattern.

Before blocking:

A "giant" 29 inches in length...


 Almost 59"!
A gain of close to 30 inches! Behold the power of water, pins and foam slabs...

Just lovely. And the perfect Christmas gift for my best friend.

If I give it to her. Pink is not normally a good colour for me, but the feel of this scarf on my neck may make me change my mind! Thanks again Carol!