"knitting"

Cardi Love

I am so in love with this shrug:

_DSF0203

I desperately want to make it, especially since one of my few wardrobe items that resembled it has felted to much too small for me this winter because I was too lazy to handwash it. Apparently, that was a bad idea. It used to look like this:

Bulky Cabled Vest 3.

Now, it doesn't. :-) (It is much more of a shoulder-hugging shrug now than the original Cable Vest, actually--which, by the way, is a brilliantly simple design by Sarah Punderson.)

The only problem is how very little knitting time I am getting these days. Less that blogging time, apparently, and that hasn't happened in a few years. :-) On the rare day when I do have a chance to sit on the couch with my hubby at the end of it, my hands are just so happy to be empty, and my arms are so thrilled to not be holding anything in them, that I will sit and watch an entire episode (currently on Season 1 of Smallville) without so much as opening my knitting bag.

Not to mention, I'm in the middle of three knitting projects already.

Still, the Forest and Frill pattern is calling me... It's so darn summery... and those other projects-in-progress (double-knit cheetah balaclava/mitt set I'm designing, thigh-high chunky cabled socks I'm designing, and green lace socks I'm not designing) all seem to be dragging into rather unseasonable seasons.... well, with the exception of the lace socks. Which, in my defence, is what I have been working on lately, when I have been knitting at all. (Although I know I need to finish the other ones so the patterns can be posted at the beginning of the appropriate season!)

Cables and lace, how I love thee... especially when combined in a perfect crop top and a delicious chocolate hue...

Introducing the Brennan Hat

About a year ago, Netflix finally introduced a version of itself that didn't require super-high bandwidth internet in order to watch a show. For $8/month, we figured it was a pretty good use of our entertainment budget. So, for the first time in nearly thirteen years of marriage, we were watching "T.V.".

Not really--no commercials. (Yay!) And we got to watch shows we previously had to borrow or buy on DVD to enjoy. Plus, discovering some new ones.

One of those discoveries was "Bones", a show about Dr. Temperance Brennan, a brilliant but socially awkward forensic anthropologist who works with Agent Seeley Boothe of the FBI to solve murders, who (fortunately) supplies the people skills she lacks.

One night, I was happily knitting along (since watching a show is just something to do while I'm knitting) when Dr. Brennan shows up on screen, watching Boothe play hockey, in a super-adorable cabled beanie. I fell in love with it immediately.

By the next afternoon, I had swatched and drafted a pattern for a very similar hat. And yesterday, it was published. You can find it at www.mysecretwish.ca, www.mysecretwishonravelry.ca, or www.mysecretwishoncraftsy.ca.

I made it to sell (the hat itself is in my Etsy store, too)--but I love it so much, I may have a hard time letting it go!






November, already?

The last week or so has been a bit of a blur. I decided on the Friday before last that I would enter a craft fair on December the 9th, and figured it was a perfect opportunity to knit up a few dozen things and move some older yarn out of my stash. Ergo, I have been knitting. And designing. And knitting. A lot.

Which is perfectly fine, because for the duration of that time, it was snowing. A lot. The sun finally came out a few days ago, sparkling off a new-fallen foot of snow. And me with the summer tires, still.

During that time, I managed to finish the first sweater I've ever made for my darling husband. He has a strong dislike for the effects of wool on his skin, so it took me this long to convince him that there was wool that was less itchy, and that it didn't have to touch his skin. Since it has been finished, he has worn it a gratifying amount of times. I'm not sure if he really likes it, or is just trying to make me feel better. Either way, it looks great on him.



Also during that time--on Saturday, to be precise--Jude managed, through no fault of his own, to turn 10 years old. I managed not to cry about it--but I did succumb to nostalgia and picture the little bundle of joy we brought home from the hospital that catapulted Jason and I from the world of normal adults into that wonderful and scary job category of "parents."

Jude is now not even a little boy--I am starting to see the man he will become, both in his features, and his person. He has helped me grow up--and it is a joy watching him grow up.

I love you, little man! And though the prospect of what the next ten years may hold has me a little nervous, I look forward to entering this next stage of the adventure with you!


Any Season is Knitting Season

I am in adamant denial that summer is only two weeks from ending. Even while typing that, I blindfolded myself and thought about rainbows and sunflowers so I could trick myself that it was just a "pretend."

This summer has been full, and busy, and not, all at the same time. July was travelling and visiting and getting sick, a cold that worked its way through our entire household and didn't move on for about a month. What is it about summer colds that makes them hang on so long, anyway?

Combine that with the heat wave that we endured for most of the month, and on into the first part of August, making our li'l Tin Can o' Dreams a mere 30C+ by evening every night, and most of the summer "to-do" list didn't really start getting tackled until the August long weekend (first weekend, for those not Canadian-holiday-aware). So, what did we do while we were coughing, and sweltering, through July?

First two weeks: The boys had swimming lessons from Monday to Thursday in the morning. Conveniently (for me), they were in a consecutive two-hour stretch each morning. Guess what? That meant two hours of nearly-uninterrupted KNITTING TIME!! I also met a new friend, another avid knitter named Lori. She was making a tank top. I was making a cotton sundress. (More about that in a minute.)

Next two weeks: Veg. Recover. Read. KNIT. I read several books this summer. The whole 12-month "Conspiracy 365" series (preview for Jude, ostensibly. Not bad--a little "mile-a-minute" for my tastes, but good adventure for teen and pre-teen reading.) After that, I read "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory McGuire. This is the novel that the musical "Wicked" is based on. While I enjoyed the skill of the writing, and seeing how the source material was changed to create the musical, I was disappointed in the vulgarity of the book--about an "R" rating. Oh, well. Since then, I have been working through "Which Lie Did I Tell?", William Goldman's sequel to "Adventures in the Screen Trade" about his life as a screenwriter.

The skirt of the sundress was very boring. Since I was reading "Wicked" on the Kindle app on my phone and PC, and therefore didn't need hands to hold a book open (and only a light touch to "turn pages"), I also got a great deal of knitting done while I was reading. This was a new trick for me, but I found it worked well to keep my mind occupied while my fingers were doing the same repetitive stitch for hours.

Cotton Cool Sundress 2

Here's the story of the sundress: I actually started it early last summer (2011), very excited about the slight challenge the lace bodice would supply, and the prospect of making myself a summer garment. (I don't usually knit summer dresses, I sew them.) Last summer, as you all know, was more than a little busy with moving, renovating, and the like. So, I didn't really put any speed on with the project until the week between Christmas and New Year's, when Jason was off of work and we were watching movies every night, with not much to do all day but knit, either.

Cotton Cool Sundress lace detail

By the end of the week, the skirt was nearly finished when I realized I had made two fatal errors: my gauge had loosened considerably from when I started the project, meaning the fit would be off, and I had also cast on the wrong number of stitches in the first place.

I was so grouchy about it, I stuffed the whole thing into my knitting bag and didn't touch it again for months. This spring, I was finally over my "irk" enough to rip it out and prepare to re-knit.

I (re)cast this on the third weekend of June, and finished it by the end of July. I am SO glad it is done, it fits (maybe a touch loose, but nothing major), and I can move onto something else.

Cotton Cool Sundress

Like this sweater for Jason, for which I just ordered the yarn.

Yay!!!

Not for Lack of Desire... or maybe it is.

I want to post. Honest. There just seems to be so much else to do right now. Like knit. And sew. (One of the things I want to post about, actually.) And recover from the nasty cold that Jude so generously shared with me. (Almost gone now. Yay!)

So, I will be posting a "real one" soon. But now, after a night of catching up on a back-log of school tracking and prep, I'm tired of sitting in front of this computer... and let's face it: it's 10:30 p.m., and I'm just tired.

However, I did finish Jude's gloves. (He opted to not do a "flip-top" after all, so no glittens this time.)

DSC04210 web.jpg

DSC04215 web.jpg

And he wants to keep the liners separate instead of sewn-in, so as to have more versatility with warmth vs. weather:

G.I. Joe Glove Liners

Plus, I made a hat for a friend:

Brock Beanie

And I'm also almost finished some gloves for Noah, and a second hat for Jabin.

See? I toldja I'd been busy! :-)

More updates coming soon!

The Quest for the Perfect Glove, uh, Mitten, uh.... GLITTEN!!

Jude has been asking me to make him a new pair of mittens for a while. The lined ones I made him a couple of years ago have worn out beyond repair (and trust me, they were repaired multiple times before reaching that point), and he is now saying that the shearling leather ones we got him last year are becoming less effective because the fleece is wearing out of the inside. Given that he gets them soaking wet fairly often, the leather has seen better days, too.

So, having finally finished yet another pair of socks that I had had on the needles for the last month, I brought it up with Jude on the weekend. "Are new mittens still a high priority for you?"

Yes, they were, he affirmed. "But could you make something more like a glove? I want to be able to do more stuff with them."

Ah, the perpetual winter problem: how to have the warmth of a mitten with the dexterity of a glove. The traditional solution, a fingerless flip-top glove, has its own problems: when it is -40 outside, you don't want your fingers completely exposed for even the few seconds it takes to dig your keys (or, in Jude's case, something like a book or whatever) out of the snow. Another consideration when knitting handwear is that they need to be lined to be effective the majority of the time in our sub-freezing temperatures.

Eventually, I decided to make a full glove, line it with another full glove knit in a finer-gauge wool sock yarn, and make a flip-top for the fingers for the extra layer of warmth. The yarn was an extra ball of the same camouflage yarn I made Jude's existing hat and scarf from, so it will match. And despite never having made a glove before, I am quite happy with how it is turning out. (Last night I finished the shell for the left hand, and up to the fingers on the shell for the right hand.)

I have also discovered that the shell glove, unlined, fits me perfectly. And it is so pretty and cozy. So, not only do the other two boys want their own pairs, now, but so do I! (But I think I'll find me some pink camo yarn, to make it a little girlier!)

DSC04197 web.jpg

Watch for the pattern to be in my store soon!

Pampered

On Friday, I hosted a party at my home for the first time in three years. It was a jewellery party fundraiser. The jewellery was Jolica, which my friend Amanda has just started selling. The "company that gives back" concept seems to have been taken many levels above what I have seen any other home-based business do with this one, and I can see why Amanda chose to support it. The fundraiser was to support some family friends, who are going on a missions trip to Jamaica in the New Year. The living room was full of smiling faces, the air was full of the smell of spiced hot apple cider and women laughing, and my home was full of warmth. Thank you, ladies (you know who you are), for helping that to happen.

Last weekend, I started my twelfth pair of knit socks ever. (I only started knitting socks in February 2010.) These are the first ones I've ever made for myself. (I figured it was high time, and my chillified toes agreed.) Since I had just got this fun yarn, whose colours make me swoon (and which has the romantic name of "Tuscany", from which culture's goddess of love my name is derived), I thought I would try something a little different than the 3/1 rib which is my go-to standard for quick socks for my kids.

DSC03839 web.jpg

Branching out is good--I chose this pattern because I was hoping the yarn would stripe. It didn't. Oh, well--it still seems to be complementing the yarn nicely. And I am so thrilled at the idea of having my own pair of hand-knit wool socks!

Tonight, my mother took me to a gala dinner for women put on by one of the local churches. I have never been to the "Crimson and Ice" event before, although I had heard it was lovely. Many of my friends were there, the decorations were amazing, the music was relaxing and inspiring, and it was so nice to have a wonderful dinner in the company of so many beautiful women.

I haven't had this much "girl time" in a long time--and it's been wonderful. It has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for the amazing women in my life. Thank you, ladies--whether I know you well or only a little, your beautiful spirits minister to me, for I see a piece of God in you. I hope that you, too, get to have a little bit of pampering this week.

Sock Marathon

This summer, I noticed something amazing.

For the first time in years, I was able to move a pair of socks from one boy's drawer to another, and there was still not even the hint of holes in them.

The socks were these, and they were passed from Noah to Jabin.

How many Walmart sport socks have I thrown out in the last year? I really don't want to do the math on that one.

However, that little milestone proved to me that the time spent making home-made wool socks is actually worth it. Especially if I keep to a basic ribbed pattern so that it's a no-brainer and as quick as possible to knit.

So, this summer, when I have had time to sit (and REMEMBERED my knitting) I have been working like crazy to get at least one new pair of warm woolies made for every member of my family. (Hey, this year I might even get some socks made for myself! It could happen!)

Here's what I've got so far (in order of construction):

Noah's (yes, he picked the yarn himself!):
Crazy coloured ribbed socks

Jude's (also his own choice of yarn):
Mossy Green ribbed socks

Jabin's (caught me, only half done, therefore, no foot shot):
Striped Boys' Socks

Besides my kids' feet, my home is starting to look a little more cozy every day, too. We're not done, yet, but every little bit helps!

Quite a Few "Winter's Days In"

Buried

That's what my van looked like for all of last week. (The amount of snow covering it varied.)

After a spring snowstorm, where large, fluffy flakes the size of hamsters floated down for the entire weekend, I backed up to leave for Swim Club last Monday. After making several attempts at the driveway, I realized that it was pointless, then backed up far enough to get back into my parking spot into some unpacked snow. My tires quickly transformed the slick, wet hamsters under them to solid ice, leaving me stranded in my own yard for the rest of the week.

We missed getting a flag out in time for the county grader to clear the driveway out, so it was not until yesterday, when our friend B brought out his MAX and plowed us out, that I finally achieved freedom. I am looking forward to getting to town today, and Jason is looking forward to doing a lot less errands in town for me this week. (Thank goodness he has 4-wheel-drive on his little Ranger!)

As mildly frustrating as it was to be stuck at home, I did enjoy a week that was a bit more relaxing, and took advantage of it to finish a few things on the "to-do" list.

In fact, yesterday I decided that I just might be addicted to finishing things. Don't get me wrong--starting things is fun. But sometimes I wonder if the only reason I start things is so I can finish them, and have the satisfaction of crossing them off the list. And I don't just cross them off--I use a highlighter. It's a habit I picked up years ago when I worked at Rogers Video in Calgary. Finished things got highlighted. It really makes them stand out on the list--I tell ya, the sense of accomplishment increases exponentially when you see all that neon green, yellow, and pink smiling up at you from your list! :-)

So, here are a few things I accomplished last week:
  • Year-end business reconciliation
  • 2010 tax returns!!!! (Yippee! First time I've been on time with that in four years, at least! First time I've been early since beginning my business in 2005!)
  • Various kitchen chores that I had been falling behind on
  • Jason's Valentine's Day socks. Started at Christmas--still not enough time.
    Jason's Farrow Rib socks
  • Almost (read: 1 more hour of work) finished some little "Keyboard Mitties" for myself. My hands get really cold when I work at the piano or computer for a long time on cold winter days. Colleen cued me in to the benefits of fingerless mitts for inside in the winter. (I never could see the value in this climate, before.)
    Keyboard Mitts
  • Season 1 of Glee (a show for which my reviews are mixed), which Jason had bought me for Valentine's Day.
That's it, but not bad for a week, I'd say. I also took a little celebratory leisure time after finishing the taxes to start learning how to use Google Sites. The "learning site" I am developing is just a showcase of our home school activities for the year, but I am checking it out to see if the tool would be suitable for a few other purposes I have in mind. I'll keep you posted on that, most likely.

Sadly, I have accomplished very little with the musical this past week. Last Sunday, I finished some demo recording, and am about half-way through another revision of the script. For some reason, my energy levels this weekend were just extremely low, and my motivation matched. I am blaming a week stuck in the house (still recovering a little from being sick the week before) and the never-ending-freakin'-snow-and-overcastness outside! I am SO ready for spring!

Anyway, that was my week in a nutshell. Happy Monday, friends!

Ready For Anything

Last week, my amazing brother sent me a surprise package in the mail. Look what it had in it:

Gift from my brother

While he realized that I probably didn't need explanation as to why knitting supplies should be in a an Emergency Survival Kit, he was kind enough to illuminate it for anyone who might be confused about the subject at all.

On a related note, I was re-watching Season 1 of  Pushing Daisies this past weekend with my mother (who was visiting for a few days), and Emerson Cod, the knitting detective, did actually save all the main characters' lives in the second episode by pulling his retractable knitting needles from his inside pocket (which he always kept with him in case he got the urge to cast on) while his hands were bound, splitting open the plastic body bag he was trapped in, unzipping Chuck's and Ned's bags, thereby allowing Ned to drive the DandyLion SX away from the homicidal maniac who was about to use them as crash test dummies.

Also, last week I was reminded that the Little Red Hen saved herself and her four lazy chicks from the Big Bad Fox because she had her workbag with her--while the fox took a nap, she cut open the bag they were trapped in, they escaped, filled it with rocks, then she stitched it up and they made a hasty exit. Granted, this was a sewing workbag, but I have scissors and a needle and yarn in my knitting bag--I think I could have reprised her role well enough in the same situation.

See? You never know when knitting could save your life.

Tied Together With A Smile

I've been feeling a bit reclusive lately. This was probably aided and abetted by the deep freeze we temporarily experienced last week--just to remind us how thankful we are that winter is finally over. Between that, and the fact that Noah only had one day of school last week, and Jude is finally done swimming lessons so we didn't have to go to town three extra times, all added up to a nice, socially-selfish week at home.

I broke my "reclusion" on Saturday, having guests for tea in both the morning and the afternoon, which was nice. At the time, I didn't think much of the sore throat and tiredness that had been plaguing me since the day before, just thinking that I was being bothered by some cold bug or other. I amped up my normal defences, got a good night's sleep, and felt not too bad by Saturday morning.

By Saturday night, I was completely exhausted. By last night, I had finally pieced all of the symptoms I was experiencing together, and I am pretty sure I have strep throat.

This is only the second time I've had it. The last time laid me out flat, then triggered an all-over-my-body outbreak of psoriasis which lasted for nearly a year. It was in early 2006. I didn't document it well at the time, since I was so ashamed of my appearance.

This time is not nearly as severe. I'm in better general health going into it, and even though I didn't know what I was facing, I started loading up on all my "secret weapon" stuff as soon as I started to feel ill. So, my throat is sore, but not unbearable. I am tired, but I am functioning. I can eat solid food. I've had a bit of a psoriasis outbreak on my neck, and my face is itchy as the Dickens (assuming that Dickens got into a patch of poison ivy occasionally), but now that I know what I'm facing, I will be able to attack with specifically targeted weapons. (In case you're wondering, I have not gone and got a swab, so when I say "I have strep throat," this is an educated guess based on past experience, the symptoms I currently have, and common symptoms of strep throat gleaned from the Internet.)

Anyway, in my reclusion, I did manage to finish up a few things. One of them was the slippers from my last post. I also made some Mary Jane Booties for the baby (Robin's), and finished some mittens for myself. Just in time for spring! :-D

Now, I am thoroughly excited about the last month of home schooling before us, and getting started on my garden. I have been dusting off my memory of what to do first by re-reading The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic by Tanya A. L. Denckla. What a textbook! I am making plans for another garden bed, and chicken-wire covers--to protect from the deer!

Also, I am planning to start raising chickens this year. That ought to be an adventure in itself. I will do my best to keep you posted on these adventures, dear internets... but lately, I'm finding that the energy I have is all used up in living my life, with little-to-none left to blog about it.


This photo was taken on Friday. "This is my best tent EVER!" declared Jude.

Simba seemed to agree.

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Obsession?

My dad once compared me to Emma on Corner Gas. I hadn't seen the episode (Season 3, "Dog River Vice") at the time, but he figured that if I ever took a bet that I could stop knitting longer than someone else could stop doing something, I would end up just like Emma and be knitting the air with my hands.

I don't know if I am quite THAT bad. But I have been known to knit at stop lights. And during baby showers (the gift wasn't quite done!) and the occasional church annual general meeting. And during many a game of Scrabble or Settlers of Catan (sometimes people take a really LONG time on their turns!)

Therefore, you can imagine my surprise (more like dumb shock) when, last Wednesday night, I discovered that nine years ago, while teaching myself the purl stitch from dim, dusty memories of my grandmother's instructions at the age of five, I taught myself wrong!! And have been doing it wrong ever since, which is why my stockinette stitch pieces always had crossed stitches on them. (I just thought everyone's knitting looked like that! It wasn't until someone commented on it that I began to notice that no one's knitting looked like that! Why, yes, I'm a natural blond, why do you ask?) It worked, it just looked a little odd--and I am fairly certain that is why I have not always been able to get various techniques to work for me. I immediately found videos of how to do it the right way, of course--but it will take a while for the new motions to become as ingrained in my muscle memory as the old ones are were. (I keep telling my fingers that it's a "were!")



However, despite comparisons to Emma and Chicken Run's Babs (above), I still don't think anyone could top this:


Family members, take note: if I ever run out of yarn, make sure you hide the scissors!

Hugs for His Feet

I finished Noah's socks last Tuesday. They were much quicker than Jabin's, as I used a larger yarn and needle size.

Okay, "much" might be pushing it. It took two weeks to make Jabin's socks. It only took 11 days to make Noah's.


That night, when he got home from school, I told him that his socks were done.

"Can I try them?" he asked excitedly.

"You betcha!"

He put them on immediately. "They fit me!" he exclaimed. "I love them!"

Thursday night, I insisted that he must take them off at last and put them in the laundry.


I'm not sure what his reasons are--whether because it was a gift made just for him, or that he really just loves the woolly warmth of the socks (or maybe the colourful stripes?)--but I am glad he likes them so much.

After all, since I pour love into every stitch, it's like making hugs for his feet.