Thursday, October 21, 2010

FO Updates

In amongst all the home stuff, school activities, swim lessons and kitten wrangling craziness there has been some knitting. Even some finishing of projects if you can believe it!

First up, I finished the Extra Red Sweater (here on Ravelry). It turned out pretty much exactly how I hoped it would and used up some really old stash yarn to boot.

Then I moved on to some basic socks for K. out of Regia Galaxy in the "Jupiter" colorway. Its hard to tell in the photo, but I am such a geek that I actually knitted the first sock from the inside of the ball and the second one from the outside so that the swirls ended up going in opposite directions. Don't worry if you can't really tell...I can and that's all that matters, lol.

After that I powered through a pair of basic gloves out of Patons Kroy Socks FX in the "Clover" color. Gloves are quick but I find them quite tedious to knit so I don't make them very often. I really like these ones, though. The Kroy is slightly thicker than most sock yarns which translates into extra warm and cozy gloves. I also really like the shading of the colors even if the gloves don't match at all. On a side note, Youngest finds it absolutely hilarious that I knitted gloves out of sock yarn. Go figure.

Then I decided to start another big project. This is well on its way to becoming a Central Park Hoodie out of Peace Fleece in the "Buffalo Bronski" colorway. It is an interesting blend of darkish copper brown and hints of magenta. My goal with this sweater is to have a hoodie that is really warm for those frosty fall mornings and evenings. So far this yarn is not disappointing. It is very dense and warm just to work with and the mohair should bloom even more once it is finished and washed. I have knit two Central Parks already but I really like the pattern - it is a relatively easy, quick knit and it looks great. Hopefully I get it finished quickly before Fall is over and winter coat season sets in.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's New Pussycat?

There has been a new development in the household:

Meet Misty. She is a rescue kitten from a local shelter that adopts out of PetSmart. She is 11 weeks old and already spayed, dewormed, deflead, tattooed, and has had her first series of shots. We had been casually talking about getting a kitten for a while now but had not really been looking. On Thursday evening we were at our local Petsmart and decided to "just see". Apparently this has been a really bad year for kitten and cat abandonment in our area so there were 12-15 kittens available for viewing plus a few older cats. I was not really enthused about the kittens that were playing around in the adoption room and was ready to leave until K. put her in my arms. She immediately went limp and started purring loudly and I fell hard, lol. We took her home on Friday (they have a 24 hour "cooling off" period) and spent the weekend adjusting to life on kitten.

We had already agreed to be really picky about temperament because we didn't want to stress out Mr. Cat or have a really wild kitten destroying our house. I think we really lucked out with her. She is super affectionate yet also playful. She answers to her name and loves to snuggle with everyone in the house. She goes limp every single time she is picked up and starts purring and rubbing against whoever is holding her. We were really worried about poor Mr. Cat but he actually seems to like her. He patiently allows her to attack his tail and claw his tower. Last night they even indulged in a fun chase game before sacking out on the bed with us for the night. She is not so amused by Tango, though. The poor guy wants to play with her so badly but so far all he's gotten for his trouble is a face full of spitting, hissing fury. She is definitely ruling the roost - it is hilarious to see Tango running away and hiding from a little creature 1/4 his size!

All in all I think we made a good choice. Or rather..she made a good choice in picking us!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ups and Downs

Lately I feel like life has been wearing me around like an old tennis shoe. There seems to be a rather endless series of ups and downs in most areas of my world with the downs coming out slightly ahead. Here's a few examples:

1. Knitting.

Up: The cooler fall air has sparked the return of my knitting mojo and a strong desire to festoon everyone in the family with bright, warm woolies.

Down: This positive energy seems to only apply to everything that is not my current project. Yes, I am still working on the Sirdar sweater. But it has fallen into that black pit of never ending ribbing that seems to never get any longer no matter how much I work on it. I spend most of my knitting time plugging away while day dreaming about all the pretties that I want to make as soon as the current sentence is over.

2. Kids.

Up: Eldest seems to be really enjoying her new classroom this year. She has a good teacher that is the right combination of fun and strict. She is actually getting her work done without complaint and appears to be doing well. Every day after school she is bubbling over with things she wants to share and no longer complains about how "boring" school is.

Down: This morning, over breakfast (delicious freshly made cranberry oatmeal), she informed me that all I care about is my yarn stash. This was declared while I was making her lunch out of last night's meatloaf (one of her favorites), fresh fruit and one of her favorite treats. It is also worth noting that she was wearing a handknit sweater and was deciding whether or not to wear one of the hats I knit for her last winter. Sigh..the rewards of being a parent....

3. Pets.

Up: Tango's leg seems to finally be working properly in spite of a few accidents during the healing process (little bugger actually rolled off the bed and fell on his hip). He is energetic and happy and seems none the worse for wear despite his summer-long ordeal.

Down: Mr. Cat has been sick again. This time we got him to the vet in the early stages, before he got really deathly ill. But the prognosis is not good. He is elderly and has been sick several times in the last year or two. The vet confirmed that he is in the beginning stages of renal failure. Basically he will keep getting sick and need medical intervention to recover. Each time he gets sick we will have to re-evalute what his chances are of recovery and how much we are willing to put him through. Right now he is responding well to antibiotics but he is so skinny that we are despairing of him getting well enough to get through the next round easily. Poor guy. We want him to be around as possible for as long as we can but we don't want him to suffer needlessly. Its a tough time for everyone.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Orthodontists

I managed to get Youngest in to see a second Orthodonist this week. I fully expected it to be a redundant waste of time but I couldn't just accept the first one's plan of action involving many $$ and two phases of braces without at least hearing another informed opinion. Here's a breakdown of our two experiences:

Orthodontist A:

As recommended by the regular dentist. When we arrived at our appt. we were amazed by the luxurious appearance of the office: granite walls, splashy art, video game terminals and...wait for it..a freakin' fountain! Everyone was polite, well healed and friendly. We were ushered into a little exam room after filling out the routine "new patient" forms and met the Orthodonist. He seemed a bit young and "fresh" out of university but looks can be deceiving. He spent approx. 6 or 7 minutes looking in Youngest's mouth without really saying a whole lot to her. He pointed out a few things to me that I had not noticed before and then pronounced that an immediate course of braces (the infamous "phase 1") so that she would not have to have a bunch of teeth pulled out to make room. He spoke a bit of professional code to his assistant, shook my hand and left the room. The assistant, a middle-aged "salesman" type woman, typed a bunch of stuff in her computer, printed it out and then told me about the cost and their payment options. She made it clear that "phase 2" (in a couple of years) would cost just as much as "phase 1" and was unavoidable. She then escorted us to the reception (I was somewhat stunned at this point) to make a series of appointments to start the work. I was reeling when we left and upset at myself for not asking more questions about the procedures. I felt scared and rushed to make decisions right away. Its also interesting to note that Youngest was pretty much completely ignored by everyone except when they were looking at her teeth.

Orthodontist B:

We picked this one out of the phonebook because they are geographically closest to us. The office was clean and neat but not nearly so luxurious as the first one. There was only a receptionist, an assistant, and the doctor in evidence. There were many degrees and awards on the walls and brochures telling you all about the Orthodontist himself. There were also pictures of his family, with three kids similar in age to mine. We filled out the new patient forms and were escorted into the exam area which is a huge open space with a wall of floor to ceiling windows. The doctor was very friendly to Youngest and made her laugh a lot. He fully examined her mouth, took a full series of photos and even did x-rays. He talked to me about different options available and what was involved with each. At no point did he suggest braces but rather went with the palate expander route. He recommended that we remove one baby tooth to make it easier to re-align her bite (the other Ortho never mentioned that her bite was off center on the bottom), fit her with the expanders and then use a retainer after that. He even suggested that we may be able to avoid braces entirely if we can move things around in her mouth enough! When I asked about cost he wrote a bunch of notes, walked with us back to the reception area and stayed while the quote was typed up. Final verdict: half the $$ compared with the other guys. We chatted a bit more with him and the receptionist (who is also an assistant) before we finally left. We ended up being there almost an hour, during which we learned a lot about orthodontic procedures, Orthodontists who overcharge to finance fancy offices, and that this doctor's kids go to the same school as mine do, lol. I asked Youngest on the way out how she felt and she said to me: "Oh mommy..this was so much better! I love this place so much more than the other one".

Guess which place we ended up booking with.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moving Right Along

On Friday I finished up the Lorna's socks for me:

They fit like they were made for me, hahaha. Feeling in a red kind of mood I cast on this:

It's not much to look at yet but hopefully it will turn itself into a pretty red (the actual color is more blood-red heather) empire-waist tunic. I am working off a Sirdar pattern but modifying it to be done in the round with a picot hem. So far so good but I am a bit concerned about having enough yarn. This is one that I've had in my stash for so many years that I've actually forgotten where I got it from, lol, and I'm not even sure if it is discontinued or not. According to the pattern I should only need 10 balls and I have 12 so, even with my changes, I should have ample. I just can't shake that feeling know the knitterly equivalent of the "spidey sense" tingling. I guess only time will tell. That and a lot of marathon knitting until I reach the point where there will be no doubt one way or the other...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brace Yourself

The girls are finally back at school full time and things are getting back to a regular schedule around here. Now that summer is done we are catching up on all the not so fun chores that we put off in favor of relaxing and enjoying the sun. One of those chores was taking Youngest to the Orthodontist.

She is only 8 but has pretty bad crowding so the regular dentist said that perhaps she would need a spreader to help her jaw grow a bit while her adult teeth are coming in. No biggie, I thought. Shouldn't be too costly, I thought. She'll only need it for 5-6 months, I thought. Ha. The Ortho took one look at her and layed out a plan of action that will involve braces (cheerily dubbed "Stage 1") and lots of $$ laid out over the next 18 months. After that they will re-assess her mouth (which should be gold-plated by this point, lol) and decide when to start the next round of braces ("Stage 2"..also taking many months and many $$). Needless to say I was reeling in shock by the time the nice lady was laying out all the payment options they offer.

Of course we were expecting braces at some point, having two little girls and all, but not for a few more years. Eldest's mouth is coming along nicely and she won't need any hardware for at least 2-3 more years. We foolishly expected Youngest to follow somewhat of the same path. Of course we want to do the right thing but we also want to choose wisely rather than just throw lots of money at her teeth and hope for the best. So we are going to get a 2nd opinion next week and then make the decisions after that. I'm really hoping that the next Orthodontist has a plan that is a little less drastic and will involve only one "Stage". Paying for braces for the next 6 years is not my idea of a good time.

In the meantime, preparing for the worse, we are trimming as many expenses as we can. Our worst frittering of cash is eating out at nice restaurants so we will have to bite the bullet and have more meals at home. I will also be pretty much stopping all yarn shopping for the foreseeable future. Sigh. Good thing I have ... hmmm ....several years worth of projects lurking in my craft room. Too bad I don't have a gourmet chef and an unending pantry down there too, lol. Seriously though I am worried about money being tight but I know that we can pull the spending reins quite hard when we have to.

P.S. my latest socks (at the top) are Lorna's Laces in "Irving Park" for me, me, me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

FO: Flamenca

Well, she's all finished:

Details on Ravelry here. What can I say? The sweater is pretty and unique but the pattern was not very clear in the instructions at critical points and it almost killed me. I had envisioned the project being a fun, happy little jaunt lasting no time at all. Instead I got a frustrating slog that I forced myself to finish just so that I didn't have to look at it any more. I actually asked a bunch of other knitters on Ravelry for help because I just couldn't get it. Fortunately I got a few responses that were quite helpful otherwise this would be sitting in a bag somewhere, never to be seen in the light of day again.

Moving right along....I will not be doing anything with "unique" construction for a while! Nope, nothing but plain, simple sweaters for me..and maybe a few socks to put me back in a happy frame of mind, lol.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Label Me

A long, long time ago, when the girls were squalling babies, we had many discussions about parenting, values, and general "how are we going to raise the perfect children?" ideas. One of the biggies was our vow to not bow to the corporate marketing giants when dealing with things like clothing and toys. Faithfully and somewhat smugly we only bought toys that were generic and designed to stimulate their little brightly painted wooden things and non-character dolls and teddies. We were sure we would never cave to the advertising on tv or the mass-marketed big-name hypes every holiday season. None of our hard-earned cash was going to be lining the corporate fat cat pockets, no sirree!

Then, as the girls began growing and becoming more independant, reality started asserting itself. Disney princesses, My Little Ponies, Barbie, and Littlest Pet Shop toys starting creeping into our home. We hated buying the stuff but we were helpless against their pleading eyes and looks of wonder whenever we went to a mall or toy store. We graciously caved a little bit more every year until we finally gave up the toy battle entirely but we still held firm to our principles when it came to branded clothing. There was no way our girls were going to grow up as mindless advertising clones, no sirree!

Fast forward to yesterday. We did a quick day trip down to Washington State to visit the stores for some good deals on back to school clothing. We hit places that we don't have here in Canada like Target, JC Penny, and the outlet malls. We literally shopped until we dropped (fortunately we only do this twice a year) and this is what we came back with:


There was also Nike shoes, more Gap stuff, more Aeropostale and anything with Paul Frank on it. They would not even consider anything "generic" except basic pants and even those had to come from an "approved" store. Its official..I'm going to bad-parent hell.

For the record, though, I'm starting a Pilates class next month and I refuse flat out to buy any clothing from Lululemon even though every single mom in this neighborhood seems to have a closet full of it. My workout wear came from Target, thank you very much, so maybe there is hope after all....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Continuing On

What a glorious last couple of weeks it has been! No kids in the house, no schedule to speak of, no major or even minor disasters! K. took last week off and we puttered around the house doing small cleanup and organizing jobs. Of course we didn't get everything done that I wanted to but we did accomplish a lot. The basement is pretty much completely sorted out and organized and the garage is totally cleaned out...we could actually park the car in it..amazing! Shelves were built and lots of stuff went in the garbage or recycling and a car load went to charity.

We also spent a lot of time just hanging out together, watching tv and going for walks. We saw "Inception" in the theater (loved it) and checked out some new (to us) local restaurants. We ran out of regular tv to watch so we rented the "Twilight" movies (not as bad as I expected) and got totally hooked on the HBO series "True Blood". We tried "House" but couldn't get into it at all. Tango got his cast off and seems to be (fingers crossed) recovering without a hitch. We have been excessively careful of his leg and kept him completely house-bound until just a few days ago. I swear he has totally forgotten how to navigate stairs now because we have been constantly carrying him up and down, lol.

I have been faithfully chugging along on the knitting front. I finished up the blue socks and tucked them into the gift drawer. I started the Noro sweater:

It has a very unusual construction method...the sleeves and upper back are knitted first, like a shrug, then the back and fronts are picked up and knitted down. After all that stitches are picked up all around for the ruffle out of the matching sock yarn. I have been a bit nervous about the techniques so I haven't worked on it as much as I could but the work I have done has flown by so I'm sure, barring any major errors in the pattern, it will come together quickly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

FO: Garnstudio Cabled V-Neck Sweater

Here it is, all finished:

I really like it even if it was absolute torture sewing it together on one of the hottest days of the year! The fabric is soft and decadent feeling and it fits perfectly. I'm sure I'll get plenty of wear out of it in the cooler seasons.

This is the 2nd Garnstudio sweater I have made from their free patterns and I have to say, although the designs are clever and relatively simple to knit, the instructions leave a bit to be desired. They are fairly confusing and vague in places as well as unnecessarily wordy. Victim of poor translation, perhaps? Whatever the case may be it is a nice design but I don't think I'll be making another one any time soon, lol.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Child Free by Choice

A wondrous thing happened today! The girls left this morning for their annual summer trip to Revelstoke, BC. My ex-husband (Eldest's father) takes them for 2 weeks to visit his family, go hiking, play in the lake, have barbeques and do all those fun outdoorsy things that they love so much. I worry a little bit about them and give them many lectures about dos and don'ts before they leave but in the end I'm kind of glad for the peace and quiet. The first time they went I was a lot more concerned but now they are old hands at it and should have loads of fun!

I always use the time that they are gone to catch up on all the big household things that need doing. This week the focus is cleaning and organizing. I'm hoping K. takes next week off so that we can do some painting and rearranging stuff in the basement. Today I started out with a thorough wipe-down, vacuum and floor-washing. I also cleaned the blinds..ugh! The weather is cooperating by turning cool and is so hard to do anything when it is really hot and dry. The plan is that by the time the girls come back the house will be spic and span and I'll be ready to focus on back to school stuff with them.

I have been doing a bit of knitting during the last while. The Garnstudio sweater is finished. I just need to do a bit of sewing up and then block it. I also started another pair of gift socks:

This is some Lorna's Laces in the "Jeans" colorway that I had stashed forever. I'm not really a fan of blue but for some reason I like these. They will fit well into the Xmas stash box, lol. After these are done it will be on to the Noro Kureyon sweater that I blogged about.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dog Days of Summer (Literally)

All has not been well here in the 'burbs. The saga of poor Tango has taken a turn for the worse. Three weeks (and several visits) after his surgery the vet announced that his knee surgery didn't "take" and had to be redone. Needless to say I was very upset and, even though the vet offered to do the 2nd surgery for free, I took Tango to a different vet for another opinion. What we discovered was unsettling and heartbreaking. Within a minute of examining Tango the new vet determined that his knee was out of place and that there was excess fluid in the joint (possible infection). It's interesting to note here that we had been taking him to the other vet for checkups and shots twice a week since the surgery and they had noticed nothing. It was also discovered that one of the medications the original vet had given Tango was three times the dose for a dog his size!

We booked Tango in for surgery with the new vet right away. When we picked him up what we found out was worse than anything I had imagined. One of his patellar ligaments (the ligament that holds the kneecap in place) had been completely severed and was his kneecap was just floating around loose. Luckily the new vet is a specialist in joint surgery so he was able to reconstruct Tango's knee but it took a lot of work and ended up costing quite a bit more than the original surgery, which we could barely afford. The icing on the cake was when the new vet told us that Tango's luxating patellas were only at stage 2, which he would not have done surgery on at all and that, by doing a faulty and unnecessary surgery, the first vet had made the problem even worse and nearly permanently crippled my dog.

All this has added up to a lot of stress in my life. Every time I look at poor Tango hobbling around in his new cast I feel sick and guilty for doing this to him. I'm even having trouble sleeping at night. My first reaction to this has been unbelievable levels of rage at the first vet and a strong desire to punish them somehow. But I'm coming to discover that all this negative energy is literally tearing me apart and I'm making myself quite ill. Even now, as I'm writing this, I'm shaking and almost in tears. So I have decided that I need to step away and just put it all behind us. Hopefully, under the care of the new vet, Tango will recover fully and resume his happy dog life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We've Got Rats!

Meet Mocha:

And Chai:

They are 3 month old brothers that Eldest got for her birthday yesterday. Chai is adventurous and bold, Mocha is a little bit more shy and reserved. Both are friendly, though and take well to being handled by an excited (but responsible) 10 year old. So far Mr. Cat is not amused and Tango seems to think they are some sort of new moving snack for him. Needless to say all ratties are safely ensconced in their large, well outfitted condo and only brought out when the dog is locked out of the room. Both girls are in love and spend all their time offering treats and trying to "train" their new friends. I'm sure the ratties think they are in heaven with a huge multi-level cage all to themselves with loads of toys to play with and yummy foods to nosh...big change from the cramped basic quarters of the pet store!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Things have been progressing slowly but steadily around here lately.

Tango is recovering from his surgery and will get his stitches out tomorrow. He has not been enjoying being confined to the house at all but it was necessary to keep his activity to a minimum in order for his knee to properly heal. Starting this weekend he will be allowed small walks around our complex, slowly building up to longer walks around the neighborhood. Hopefully it will help out his stir-craziness and improve his mood somewhat, lol!

I have been working ever so diligently on my Garnstudio sweater:
It has been slow going since the summer heat settled in on us. It has also been slow to progress due to being knit in very fine sport weight on 3.25mm needles. But the fabric is luxurious and drapey and the cable design really "pops". I am almost finished the front and then I have just one more sleeve to go.

Now on to the inspiration part of this blog post! A couple of weeks ago K. and I visited Mt. Vernon, WA on a little day trip and discovered a delightful yarn shop called Wild Fibers. It is a beautiful, well stocked and airy shop filled with all sorts of knitterly treasures. K. and I quickly scooped up some Hazel Knits Artisan sock yarn that we had never seen before:

I find the colors so rich and intense. Just the thing to revive mid-summer knitting blahs! Just before we were leaving I spotted a shop sample of this design by Knit Whits. The body is made up of Noro Kureyon and the ruffles of matching Kureyon sock. I tried it on and fell hard. I grabbed the pattern and spent pretty much the whole drive home contemplating which of my stashed Noro yarns to use for it. I finally settled on #255 - a fall blend of browns, oranges, golds and maroon. I didn't quite have enough skeins, but I managed (luckily) to find more in the same dye lot at couple of LYS's. By the time the matching sock yarn that I ordered on line arrives I should be finished with the Garnstudio pullover and ready to cast on. I can hardly was that awesome!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tango Gets A Leg Up

I've been absent from blogging for the last week due to a little drama going on at the home front. Our dog, Tango, was diagnosed with Luxating Patellas in both back legs. Basically his kneecaps are genetically deformed and require surgery to correct. Tango is only a year and a half old and otherwise quite healthy and active. We suspected there might be a problem when we moved because he started randomly favoring one of his legs on and off. We were hoping it was just an injury due to running around on new-to-him slippery floors. Then when the other knee started acting up as well we knew there was trouble. I did some checking on the internet and found that this condition is quite common for small purebred dogs, especially his breed: Papillons. I also found out that the prospects are good for a full recovery but the surgery itself can be quite costly just for one leg, let alone two. So we had the talk that every pet owner facing expensive surgery for their pet faces. Its brutal and heartbreaking to put a price tag on your furry companion but, unless you are independently wealthy, a sad necessity. Then I took him to the vet for an assessment and quote, knowing full well that we might have to make a horrible choice. When the vet showed me the list of everything needed and the total cost for the first surgery I almost was less than half of what I was fearfully expecting! With the green light fully on, the vet did some x-rays and blood tests and we booked him in for surgery on Tuesday.

Leaving him at the vet on surgery day was probably the hardest thing I've done in a long time. He was so scared and there was no way I could comfort him. I found out the next day when we picked him up that he barked and tried to dig his way out of the cage basically the whole time he was there. When we got him back he was so sad looking with his bandaged up leg and his cone of shame. He didn't want to be left alone for a second even though he was obviously tired and stressed. Today he looks better even though he is still not eating as much as he should. He has meds for pain and antibiotics and we are only keeping the cone on him at night. He has the bandage on his leg for a week and the stitches stay in for another week after that. In 6-8 weeks, if all is well, he has to repeat the whole process with the other leg.

There is no way to tell how successful the surgery is until he is walking properly again. We can only hope that because he is such a young dog that it will be 100% and he will be back to running around in no time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What's New

We are finally starting to relax into "summer mode" here. Staying up late, sleeping in and eating lots of fresh local fruit and veggies. The girls and I are reading "Percy Jackson: The Lightening Thief" together (we will watch the movie once we are done) and they have swim lessons at the local rec center twice a week. The weather has not been very summery and cloudy..but rumor has it that hot sunny days are due to roll in next week. In the meantime we are getting in lots of walks on the local trails and putting in a few flowers in the garden.

I have been puttering on the knitting front. I visited my local yarn store, 88 Stitches, and picked up this lovely little treat:

It is a skein of Silk Cashmere Fingering, hand dyed by Melissa from Yarn Candy-Sweet Fiber. The colors are rich and moody and the yarn is oh, so very soft and delightful.

I started the Garnstudio sweater out of some yarn I had sitting in my stash forever:

It is a positively decadent blend of extra-fine merino, silk and cashmere. It is fine sport weight so it will be slow knitting but the finished product will be more than worth it. I had actually started this sweater out of a different yarn but after a couple of inches I ruthlessly tore it out and restarted because everything about it was off...wrong color, texture, etc. Why work so hard and so long on something that I ultimately won't love? This yarn, on the other hand, is a clear winner and has been waiting patiently in my stash for the right project to come along.

I have been analyzing what type of sweaters I actually wear lately and realized that I don't knit things that I really enjoy wearing very often. My standard garment in the wintertime is definitely thin, clingy v-neck sweaters in basic colors yet I knit a lot of worsted-weight outerwear cardigans and jackets. I have to remember this whenever I'm picking out a new project to work on, lol, or I will forever be wearing crappy store-bought sweaters while my beautiful, carefully knitted items sit in the cupboard all winter!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

What a great country to live in. Love ya, Canada!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Things I Want To Accomplish This Summer:
  1. Sort out the basement
  2. Clean out the garage
  3. Sew a garment for me
  4. Finish Youngest's quilt
  5. Knit at least 2 sweaters
  6. Make 1 original art work
  7. Start an exercise program
  8. Go for a walk every day
  9. Teach the girls some cooking
  10. Learn to relax

Monday, June 28, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Its finally the last few days of school! Just a full day today and a half day tomorrow and thats it. Its been so busy around here that I haven't had time or inclination to post anything. There's been so much last minute project finishing, end of year field trips, and special events at the school. I have had a stack of school notices sitting out in date order that I look at every day just to make sure I don't forget or miss anything. The main thing this week is Eldest's class play today. It is a Reader's Theater take on Harry Potter. Eldest has a narration role and a small character part. We went to Value Village to get all the costume pieces that she needed but I ended up sewing a cloak for her because we couldn't find anything even remotely suitable.

It turned out really well, if I do say so! The pattern is a kids costume pattern that was on sale at Fabricland for $2 and the fabric is some old cotton that I had in one of my fabric stash bins. I altered the length and a few of the details to suit her. I figure she and Youngest can use it for their dress-up games once the play is over.

Here's a shot with the hood up:

All in all, it took about 4 hours to make and really fueled my desire to get back into sewing. I used to sew clothing before I had kids and I also took a few garment making classes as well. I have all the supplies and *cough* a lot of fabric just sitting around. I'm hoping that I will be putting in some time with my machines this summer.

There has been a bit of knitting. I've been steadily working on the Xmas socks:

I should be finished up the last one today or tomorrow. After that I'm thinking a simple v-neck pullover done in the round, perhaps a Garnstudio design like this one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FO: Vertigo Vest

My Vertigo vest is finished. Details, as always, are here on Ravelry.

Why yes, I did start this on Friday! We were doing bathroom renovations all weekend which stressed me to end so, rather than wring my hands and hover around, I chose to knit pretty much non-stop. It was a pleasant quick project that came together easily and used up some old stash yarn I had sitting around. Unfortunately, though, the noise and mess caused me to forget how to read a pattern, lol, so I ended up working the colorwork portion a little bit too high..whoops! Oh well, its a "design feature" now..

After all the ends were sewn in and the vest was blocking, I decided to start some basic man socks for the Xmas gift stash:

Whenever I see Regia, Fortissima, or OnLine sock yarn on deep discount I always scoop up several balls in neutral manly colors for future gift socks. I usually make several pairs every year and the recipients only like dull colors, nothing fun or exciting. It makes for boring knitting, but sometimes that is a good thing when everything else in life is going crazy.

The other exciting thing this weekend was my new glasses:

I decided to go out on a limb and get ones a little bit more "out there" rather than the safe, blend-in frames I've always chosen in the past. I figure now that I'm over 40 I can stop worrying about how I look and start expressing my inner creativity a bit more in my appearance.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Musings on Friday

As you can see, I finished the Tosh sweater. Details and more pics on Ravelry here.

Funny thing about this sweater. The whole time I was forcing myself to just finish it, already, I was cursing it and I became very sure that I would chuck it into a drawer, never to be seen again. Then I took the photos and kept it on for the rest of the day. Slowly I began to realize how good it felt, how soft, how perfectly fitted and comfy. It wore me down and won me over in short order. I am so glad I stuck with it because now I have a really nice sweater that I know I will enjoy wearing in the fall.

After my last post I finished up the ugly single Fortissima sock. While I was working on it I changed my mind about not knitting for a while. I realized that lately I have been worried about household finances quite a bit. Not that we are hurting or fact I think this is the most comfortable, financially, we've ever been. But I think that, for me at least, this recession has created a sense of urgency to save money and have an emergency cushion in the bank in case of disaster. Just living paycheck to paycheck doesn't cut it for me anymore. I need more security and tangible savings for the unknown "what-ifs".

How this relates to knitting is that working with my stash is one thing that always calms the anxiety and makes me feel more relaxed and able to cope with stress. I was browsing around in my room yesterday and felt reassured that, no matter what transpires, I will never run out of pretty things to work on. Hell, I could go without buying yarn for years and still not run out of possibilities, lol. So I decided to keep the project ball rolling and picked out some skeins for a simple, quick project.

This is some Punta Yarns Mericash in fiery oranges and Cascade 220 in a purplish brown. The project is a Vertigo vest for me. I have made this pattern before for K., so I know it is relatively simple and quick. I think it is important for me to keep knitting right now, if for no other reason than to keep my twitchy, anxious fingers occupied.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Things I Wish I Was Brave Enough to Do:
  1. Skydive
  2. Go down a huge waterslide
  3. Bungee jump
  4. White water rafting
  5. Base jumping
  6. Travel alone to a foreign country
  7. Make a public speech about an important cause
  8. Learn a combative martial art
  9. Have a real conversation with a famous celebrity
  10. Dye my hair a truly outrageous colour

Monday, June 7, 2010

FO = Finally Over

The Mad Tosh sweater is done at last! Its blocking right now and hopefully I'll have pictures in the next day or so. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see the end of a project. I had to literally force myself to finish up the last bit of knitting yesterday. None of this was the yarn's was purely a victim of circumstance, lol!

While I was looking for a needle to do the collar, I spied this old victim of second-sock syndrome languishing in my craft room. I made up this sock at least a year ago and decided that I didn't like the colour enough to make the 2nd one. For some reason the idea of only having to make one sock to complete a project is really appealing to me right now, so I will most likely start it tonight. Since the socks are for me it should be a quick knit up.

After this I don't have any plans. I'm kind of sick of knitting (gasp, I know!) right now so I may take a bit of a break and perhaps drag out the quilting or something. Or I may just do stuff around the house. We bought some paint and some pretty flowers on the weekend so there is no end of things that can be done!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Project That Ate My Soul

Okay..maybe I'm being a little dramatic! But you know how every project eventually reaches a certain point where you are sick of it? Sometimes its just a little "man, I can't wait for this to be done" and you keep soldering on for that last little bit. Every once and a while, though, it reaches that point where it feels like it will never end and you would rather do anything but work on it. That's where I'm at right now with the Mad Tosh sweater. All that extra reknitting is taking its toll. Today it feels like I would rather gouge my eyes out with a dull tapestry needle than even pick it up. I'm employing all the classic avoidance techniques: lots of time on the computer, lots of tv, reading, etc. I have several balls of sock yarn lined up like little soldiers on my dresser. Every day I fondle them but I know that if I even cast on a sock the sweater is lost. My stash is full of almost-sweaters where something went wrong with them along the way and they were heartlessly abandoned. I would tell myself that I will come back to them but I never do and they sit forgotten in their plastic bag coffins while I enjoy the next, greatest project.

This time I'm determined to mend my fickle ways. I'm going to stick with this sweater even if it kills least I'll die wearing a beautiful sweater that matches my eyes!

On a completely unrelated (but great avoidance) note, here's a picture of K. and youngest that I'm entering in a local "Daddy and me look-alike photo contest":

I don't care whether or not we win..I just want everyone to see how cute they are!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten things that really disturb me:
  1. Being in water deeper than my armpits
  2. Spiders
  3. Hypodermic needles
  4. Mold
  5. Driving down ridiculously steep hills
  6. Plastic coated paper clips
  7. Getting shocked on door handles
  8. Metal plates or grates in sidewalks
  9. Ants in the house
  10. Talking into drive-thru order microphones

Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend in Pictures

A giant shrubbery spider:

Home-made tempura cod and fried rice:

Eldest's Barn Owl project:

Cute new salt and pepper shakers:

Yet more knitting on Mad Tosh:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sheep to Shawl

Last weekend we took in a small "sheep to shawl" competition at a local heritage museum. (It took me a while to find the camera cable for downloading...woops!). They had four teams made up of various spinning and weaving guild members. Each team had to card, spin and weave the raw, dyed wool into a shawl 6' in length, all within the 5 hour time limit. We didn't stay for the whole thing (easily bored kids) but while we were there the girls got to see every part of the process in action and do some fun crafts.

Whenever possible I try to get them out to see craft or art events where the artists/craftspersons are actually working. I think it is good for them to grow up knowing that it is possible to get beautiful things that aren't made in China and sold en-masse at the local mall. Its also good for them to see things made by hand so that they will be more encouraged to place value on arts and crafts and see it as something that they themselves could do too.

First up, a display of handspun yarn and a small loom:

Some raw wool ready for spinning:

A team hard at work (these ladies are from a local art college):

A large loom ready for weaving a beautiful shawl:

Eldest doing some weaving of her own:

Youngest and her new sheep buddy: