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!

Monday, November 07, 2011

obsession one - done!

The hat for my son is finished! He's happy with it, and I love it. It fits, which is important, and it matches his grey jacket, which doesn't interest him in the least.

It's the Knit Picks Chullo Hat kit, and I switched out the blues for greens. (I didn't actually get to switch the colours, I just bought three shades of green and kept the blues for something else...)
I also charted out my own pattern for the earflaps - the boy wanted skulls, not llamas.

This is a great pattern - you are not limited to a specific colourwork pattern - it gives you options. There are small patterns, and large, and you can pick from an assortment to personalize each hat differently. Additionally, I have enough yarn left from the kit for at least 3-4 more hats, depending on how I distribute the colours. I could do more colourwork, or stripes, or solids... The shape of the hat is the basis. (Although if not doing colourwork, I think I'd reduce the total number of stitches, since it would stretch more. Colourwork tends to hold the size a bit better.)

Friday, November 04, 2011

I get a little obsessed...

First it was the Dahlia sweater. then it was the pink lace scarf. Now it's my son's chullo hat. I still love the sweater and the scarf (soooo much....), but right now I'm obsessed with the hat. It's pretty much all I knit on this weekend, and will probably be that way until it's done. Luckily, it's small, and I should have it done soon. Then I'll finish the scarf, then back to the endless rows of stockinette on Dahlia.

Unless of course, somethnig else catches my eye...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween pictures

The boy's costume started with an idea - he wanted to be Ezio from the Assassin's Creed video game.

So I Googled for some pictures,
went to Fabricland and Dollarama to stock up,

and this was the result.

I'm quite proud of it, and the boy loved it.

We also decorated the deck where we give out the candy - smaller than our usual, but it still did my jailhouse pumpkin - what can I say - I love this idea!

Daylight shots:


It takes us a few hours to get it all set up, but it's worth it for the kids that ooh and ahh! (Especially the little ones! - they get the extra handful of chocolate)