Monday, June 30, 2008

uptown handbag

Pattern: Uptown Handbag from Madison Bags by Amy Butler
Fabric: Floral Reign Style D827 by Hoffman Fabrics; buckram for interfacing
Notes: The pattern is confusing in certain areas so you must read carefully and make notes before cutting/sewing. It was my first time using buckram and it's incredibly stiff so it's hard to "flip right side out" on some of the smaller pieces like the handles (I can't imagine making this bag with the recommended Timtex). In those cases, I modified the construction to make it a little easier. I also had to switch to a jeans needle to get through all those layers. I used sew-in magnetic closures instead of velcro. Fairly easy to construct but the short handles make it a little tricky during final assembly.

I'm very happy with my new bag. I have more fabric and interfacing so I might make the Downtown purse with the long handle.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

woo wee

It's hot out there. Two days of 28C/83F temps. I'm ready to wilt. But hot weather means fresh fruit! We hit the farmers market this morning and scored some local strawberries (3 weeks behind schedule - that's how cold it's been) and local cherries. So lunch was a handful of cherries and strawberries and a yummy butter tart for dessert. We were late to the market so we missed out on the sticky cinnamon buns but hubby insisted that we buy something baked. The tarts were his choosing.

The sooper seekrit project is finished. One of the coolest places in the house is my sewing room so I sat down in front of the sewing machine and finished it up. If you have a Ravelry account, here is a link.

And I pulled the linen off the loom and hemmed up the ends.

Yarn: 6/24NM 100% linen from Colourmart; used up almost an entire cone (150g and 660yds)
Loom: Dorothy Leclerc 4 harness
Loom details: plain weave, 12 dent heddle, 184 ends
Finished dimensions (pre-wash): 15" x 36" before hemming
Notes: I warped up 5ft lengths hoping for a 4ft finished but obviously, there was more wastage than I anticipated. Took forever to get the loom set up but only a few hours to weave the whole thing.

I want to weave one more thing before I return the loom. I would like to try weaving with wool. A quilting friend (who also used to weave - not the one I borrowed the loom from) suggested that if I wanted to use hand dyed/painted yarn, I should use black as the other colour. So I've been shopping around and I have my eye on Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in black (warp) and Noro Kureyon Sock (weft) in this colour. I think the combo would look stunning. But I'm also in love with some new Colourmart yarn - 30% silk and 70% cotton in a sky blue. After knitting with the Misti Pima/silk, I've been looking for more silk/cotton. Too many choices. I need to think on this some more.

The cats are really feeling the heat. Phoebe spent a lot of time lying on the cool wood floor yesterday. But today, she's glued to the upstairs window.

I'm heading back to the sewing room. I was fabric shopping yesterday and I treated myself to an Amy Butler bag pattern and fabric to make the bag with. I've got all the bits cut out and I'm ready to start sewing. I hope the buckram behaves itself.

Friday, June 27, 2008

weaving 101

(You can start laughing, Bea)

I stayed up 2 hours past my bedtime. I can't count to 184. And when I can count to 184, I only needed to count to 92 (cuz when you cut a loop, you get 2 ends - duh!). I should've gone to bed instead of doing simple math. Several times, there was a near catastrophe when I dropped my 92 strand, 10 foot, figure 8 loop of yarn. Ricky was camped out under the dining table hoping for linen bits to play with. The instruction that I was given yesterday didn't work (you can't tie linen and wool into a square knot and expect it to hold under strain) so I ended up ripping out all the existing warp (Sorry, Nancy). And then, I screwed up threading the heddle (see, I'm even using weaving lingo today). Up to this point, Ronnie was right - it is a torture device.

But this morning, I tied up the warp ends to the front thingy, cranked the yarn into place, wound a bobbin, and voila:

There are a coupla places where the warp goes over-over rather than over-under, it's really uneven (although, I hear a good wash and block will do wonders - just like knitting), and the selvedge looks like crap but I don't care. I'm having fun (even if it is killing me).

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Now what? Guess I should read the book. I thought I was just picking up the loom. But I also ended up with a wooden frame for measuring out the lengths of yarn, bobbins, things that hold the bobbins (shuttles?), a bobbin winder, and a huge batch of long thin sticks (for ?). It's already got some yarn wound onto it so I was told to (ignore the instructions in the book and) tie my linen to the ends and wind it onto the back. I was also told that when I wind the yarn off the cone and onto the wooden frame thingy that I need to put in a figure 8. So does the figure 8 go in front or behind?

"whatever you do, don't wake me" - Ricky

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

rude awakening

I crawled into bed for a little snooze yesterday afternoon. Ricky jumped on the bed and scratched at the quilt until I lifted up the edge so that he could crawl under. He settled around my legs and both of us snoozed. At some point, I rolled on top of him and he didn't like it so he bit me on my bare calf with his big teeth. OUCH! He was rapidly ejected from the bed. The little bugger...

My long awaited linen finally arrived. Sadly, it's not DK like I had originally ordered but that's ok. I've got a lot of it so I can make several projects or even knit with 2 strands to simulate DK. I am borrowing a Dorothy Leclerc 4 harness table loom to try weaving some of it.

I walked up to the post office this afternoon to pick up another parcel. I traded several of my sock knitting bags for sock yarn. Aren't they pretty?

Left to right: Cherry Tree Hill supersock in Misty Moor, Thank Ewe superwash sock in Purple Mountain Majesty (top) and Blue Spruce tweed (bottom), Marion's superwash sock (dyed in Germany)

There was another parcel but it was adressed to hubby. It might be part of my birthday present. I gave it a good shake and it feels like a book. Hubby said it was a quilting book that he's been looking for. He's such a smart ass.

My sooper seekrit knitting project is almost finished. I have just a little bit left to knit and then it's onto the finishing. I'm sooo excited.

"Hmm... a strand of linen has escaped from the cone" - Ricky

"Gotcha!" - Ricky

"mmmm... tasty" - Ricky

Sunday, June 22, 2008

tired but happy

I'm pretty bushed. A day in my garden will do that to me. Lookit all my pretties:

I got up before the crack of dawn yesterday so that I could shop at my local garden center's biggest sale of the year. They opened at 5:07am and I wanted to be there early. Luckily, they're only a 5 min drive from my place so I set the alarm for 4:45am but I didn't actually roll out of bed right away. I bought a lot of plants, a huge sun hat (the picture doesn't show how huge the hat is), soil, stakes for my maple tree, and a purple (!) watering can.

I spent today planting all my new plants. I emptied out the 2 large urns by the back door and replanted them (the first two pictures above). The existing plants were so root bound that they weren't worth saving. I made up the fuschia hanging basket for the front porch and I planted a nishki willow and a sedum in the front flower bed. I also got the rosemary into a planter and finished planting my petunias. Then I ran around with the camera so that I would have pictures to show you.

I've spent lots of time knitting. My sooper seekret project is almost done. I bought the hardware and some notions needed for the finishing. My goal is to turn it into an FO by the end of the week.

On Fri, I spent an hour and a half waiting to see a doctor (my ears are still itchy) and knit about an inch and a half on hubby's sock. It doesn't sound like much but his socks are 80sts around and I'm using 2mm/US0 dpns. Gotta put your sunglasses on for this picture:

Here's a Ricky action shot:

He wants to sniff hubby's gardening pants but he's not quite sure where he can safely put his paws. It took him about 30 secs to go from the shelf onto the pants. Silly cat!

Gotta go do some online shopping. It's my birthday in a few weeks and my sister (who just came back from a 3 week European vacation and could've bought me something really, really nice from Italy - i.e. size 8 leather shoes from Salvatore Ferragamo which was right next door to their hotel) has no clue what to get me for my bday so I've been instructed to find something that can be purchased online and shipped directly to me. Should I make her buy me a full set of Addis?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

drowning in WIPs

I can't believe that I've cast on 3 new projects this week.

Hubby's sox:

Blankie using my sock yarn leftovers:

A second Everlasting Bagstopper:

I've reached an all-time high of 26 WIPs. < shudder > I have got to finish something. My WIPcase is overflowing onto the coffee table. And I really shouldn't be working on any of these because I've got a secret project with a deadline. Eeep!

I did finish a little quilting project. I volunteered to make 2 quilt blocks for the IBD Quilt Project. One block is for Chris who has Crohn's Disease and one for his cat, Charlie (diagnosed with Feline IBD). You can read about them and see the blocks here.

The cats are very photogenic lately. Ricky's quite the goofball - rolling onto his back and looking at me with those big blue-grey eyes.

Phoebe's snuggling up to hubby every chance she gets. And she takes up a lot of space when she spreads out like this. Phoebe's such a lap cat.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

what a day

The weather was perfect for the Test of Metal. I cast on hubby's Noro sock and took that with me for WWKIP day.

After cheering hubby on at the start line, I headed over to the shuttle buses. They were stalled because the drivers didn't know where they were supposed to drive to - DOH! But that got sorted out and I arrived at the Powerhouse feeding station about 10 mins before the elite riders buzzed through. Hubby came through at the 2hr mark which meant he would be on schedule for a 5hr finish.

I took the return shuttle bus back to the start line and walked to the Tim Hortons to meet soccermom for a little WWKIP action. We had a lovely chat and enjoyed our chocolate frosties. I showed her my Noro sock (she's not a sock knitter) and she showed me the little fish she was working on.

After an hour or so I headed to the finish line to wait for hubby. And here's hubby finishing at 5h 8min - his second fastest time (his PB is 5h 4min):

He's in one piece but there seems to be some skin missing from one ankle. He told me that his feet went flying out of his pedals on numerous occasions but he never officially fell off.

We're still waiting for the official results to be posted and to see what his official time and placement are. Click here for more pictures of race day. I think we'll be doing this again next year.

PS. On the way home, we stopped at a Squamish yarn store that soccermom told me about - Wool Studio. Very nice stuff! Must remember to stop there on the way to/back from Whistler.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Me and my cow bell (plus knitting cuz it's WWKIP day) will be heading out to Squamish first thing tomorrow morning for hubby's mountain bike race - Test of Metal. He and 799 of his closest friends will be riding 67km of mud. I hope he (a) finishes and (b) does it in one piece. Wish him luck!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

colour me brown

Yahoo! I got exactly what I wanted (for once). The colours in the pictures are accurate on my monitor.

Doesn't it look great? And here's a little bit knitted up - had to see how it stripes:

Here are the specs for those who are curious.

Yarn: Scheepjes Invicta Extra (75% wool 25% poly); 3 - 50g skeins of undyed/natural
Blanks: used Bond Classic knitting machine and #1 keyplate. Cast on 100 sts. Before taking knitting off machine, I wove a scrap of yarn down the center so that I knew where the midpoint was.
Dye step 1 (per skein): Mix 1 pack of Blue Moon Berry Kool Aid with 1.5 cups of water. I lay the side I wanted to dye into a big glass pan and wrinkling the fabric to form hills and valleys. Poured dye over yarn and swished a little but not too much because I wanted light and dark areas. Nuke 2 mins, let cool, nuke additional minute and set aside.
Dye step 2 (all 3 skeins at the same time): Mix 1 pack of Cherry with 3 packs of Lime into 5 cups of water. I did this in a big 8 cup glass bowl. Dip the undyed half into the bowl and swish around so that dye is evenly absorbed. Nuke 2 mins, let cool, nuke additional minute and let cool.
Final step: Rinse with water and lay flat to dry. Knit.

I'm getting about 2.5 rounds per colour with 60 sts on 2.25mm dpns. I think it looks so cool! I wasn't sure about knitting with crinkly yarn but it's not really bothering me so I'm not going to skein and wash. What pattern should I use? Jaywalker or ???

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I have lots of stuff to say but where to start? How 'bout the realization that my fabric and yarn stashes are too big. For example, I was looking for some double wide unbleached muslin to use as the backing for the embroidered flower quilt that I rescued. I looked everywhere - my stash of backing fabric (yes, it's got a different home than my regular fabric because I store it on the bolt), my stash of regular fabric, in the closet, under the bed - everywhere. So I ended up at the fabric store and they didn't have what I wanted so I bought something else. Guess what? I found my muslin hiding under some fabric for a mystery quilt (didn't think to look there because it was under a stack of "project" fabric rather than just regular fabric). I was looking for my bicycle fabric when I found it. Sigh... At least, I haven't basted the quilt yet so I can still use the unbleached muslin and give the new fabric a chance to lose itself in my stash.

And my yarn stash is too big. I know this because Ram Wools is having a 30% off everything sale yesterday and today (not too late for you to buy something) and I can't find anything I want to buy. Either I already have it or I don't want it. Am I broken? Maybe my gimpy ears are affecting my brain?

Speaking of ears, they're doing better but still slightly itchy especially at night which is really annoying. I try not to scratch... And of course, I got a migraine on Mon that lasted until Tues. It really was my fault because I'd stayed up til almost 3am to read a book and I couldn't sleep in because I had to get the cats to the vet for their annual bath and to get their teeth cleaned. So my head hurt and I had to dig Ricky out from under the ottoman and stuff him into his carrier and this is on top of the fact that they didn't get breakfast (teeth cleaning is done under general anesthesia so no brekkie). But it was worth it because they smell nice and they've got fresh breath.

You're probably wondering what I was reading - "The Shop on Blossom Street" by Debbie Macomber. I picked that book up plus the sequel - "A Good Yarn". Nice light reading and not too heavy on the knitting.

I went to the thrift store to look for handles for my market bag. I bought this huge roll of black nylon webbing that I think will work ok. I lucked out and got 4 and a half skeins of Lang Mille Colori:

It's a lovely self striping yarn. Don't know what I'll make with it.

After my migraine went away, I set up my Bond Classic knitting machine. I've been seeing this new sock yarn called Flat Feet. And now Knit Picks has sock blanks that you can dye yourself. So I hauled out the Bond and 3 skeins of natural sock yarn and away I went.

Here's sock blank #2 in progress. What you don't see is the disaster known as sock blank #1. It took 3 hours to knit and the tension was all over the place not to mention dropped stitches, etc. I frogged it this morning and had it reknit in 45 mins. I made 3 blanks using the full width of the knitting machine (100 sts). I want to dye the yarn blue and brown with Kool Aid. How do you make brown Kool Aid? Guess I'll figure that out after I post this.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

itchy ears

Yes, my ears are itchy. It's so bad that they woke me up. I saw a doctor this morning and he prescribed some drops to help with the inflammation and itching. I hope the stuff works.

While I was waiting to see the doctor, I finished my first pair of STR socks (excuse the poor picture - the sun is hibernating).

Yarn: STR mediumweight in Metamorphic (blog prize from Nikki)
Needles: 2.25mm dpns
Pattern: generic toe up
Notes: A pair of plain socks usually doesn't take me more than 2 weeks but these took 2 months to finish. Maybe I was savouring my first STR :)

I also finished knitting the Everlasting Bag Stopper.

Yarn: Super 10 cotton; 1 skein
Needles: 4mm and 6mm Addis
Pattern: Everlasting Bag Stopper by Amy Singer
Mods: I did a picot hem for the top of the bag. The bag is a little short because I was running out of yarn. Still don't know what to do about the handles.

I've started a second bag stopper and I have a request from a friend to make one in orange (to match the orange socks I knit for her). Anyone seen a bright orange (not pumpkin) cotton dk yarn that would be suitable?

Off to rummage around in the sock yarn stash for my next pair of plain socks. Or maybe I should work on one of my other 24 WIPs. Nah!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

a random Thurs

I've been saving up a bunch of randomness for a day like today - rainy, cold (I broke down and turned the furnace back on yesterday), I can't go out cuz I'm sick, miss my quilting friends kinda day.

1. Kauni superwash!!! Oh my, I might have to buy some.

2. And there are new colours of Noro Kureyon Sock! I love this one and this one. If my lys gets these in stock, I'll go nuts.

3. I've been contemplating playing around with sock blanks a la Flat Feet. I have 8 skeins of undyed fingering, an old knitting machine, and lots of kool aid. Could be fun while I'm stuck at home.

4. Trying to decide what to do with 3300 yards of fingering linen that's on its way to me. Do I really think I want to knit all of that up? Not likely. I'm looking at weaving it into a ton of dish towels or something like that. A friend has kindly offered to loan me her weaving loom and I might take her up on it.

5. My computer caught a virus that my anti-virus software can't detect. Everyone should update their Flash plug-ins/add-ons to the latest version asap.

6. As you may have noticed in yesterday's post, Lego Indiana Jones was released on Tues. Hubby picked up a copy yesterday and we played the first "chapter" of Raiders of the Lost Ark yesterday night. I was Indy and got my butt smacked by the bad guys. A whip isn't much of a weapon against spears. So much fun! I highly recommend it. Might have to sneak in a few hours of playing while hubby's at work. Hee hee!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I suck

... at Lego Indiana Jones. My thumbs hurt.


I've caught hubby's cold/flu. Not what I need this week. Blech. Ah well, more knitting time on the couch, right?

While I wasn't knitting last week, I was crocheting. I made a simple bag for groceries.

Pattern: made up; based on a bag given to me
Yarn: Ecofil; 1 skein
Hook: 4mm

When it's filled, the bottom drags on the ground. Guess I'm really short. Since it's too long, this bag will go up for sale in the boutique at the quilt show.

My hand feels pretty normal so I've been catching up on some knitting. I'm turning the heel on my STR socks and I'm still loving bags so I cast on the Everlasting Bag Stopper this morning using the one skein of Super 10 cotton that's been hanging around in my stash for ages.

Don't know what I'm going to do for bag handles. I don't like the idea of ribbon. Suggestions?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

back to the yarn

While I haven't been knitting, I am still capable of buying yarn.

A little STR in Mustang Sally and 2 skeins of Louet KidLin Lace in Cranberry.

Yesterday, a gaggle of quilters assembled at my place and we headed out to the Abbotsford quilt show. It was an amazing quilt show and one of my favourites. I'll post a link to my pictures as soon as I've sorted through all 200+.

The highlight of the show was the vintage quilt display from private collections and a local museum. We're talking really, really old quilts. Some were so fragile that they had to be displayed flat on tables. There was also old hand crank and treadle machines for people to try out.

There was a great merchant mall and I bought lots of fabric.

One of the vendors had a "by the pound" sale and it was crazy busy. Just before lunch, I broke down and splurged on something that I'd been eyeing for awhile.

Meet Hippy the hippo. One of the critters from Clover's line of semi-hard cases (the others are a green alligator, purple dolphin, green frog, and yellow koala). I just love this little guy. I can't decide if I should carry my quilting or knitting stuff in it.

After lunch, N & I ditched the slow pokes (kinda funny because N's 20+ years older than them) and went shopping in Abbotsford. We stopped at Woolaroo and I bought some very nice yarn.

On the top/left is Cascade Heritage - their new superwash sock yarn! It's incredibly soft considering the nylon content. They have handpainted colours as well but I couldn't decide which one to get so I picked a solid. At the bottom/right is a skein of Estelle Cadenza - a combo of superwash merino and tussah silk! The Cadenza isn't being sold as sock yarn but it's the right weight and very tightly spun. I love the tone on tone colours.

After Woolaroo, we walked along the strip mall and went into Countryfolk Fabrics. N said that she wasn't going to buy anything but ended up with 5m of fabric. Nothing like a good sale to break your resolve. I didn't buy anything because they were sold out of the fabric that I'd bought in March.

We went back to pick up the other 2. N went in to find them and I waited outside. When they came out, N had bought more fabric! LOL! The drive home was a little exciting because some idiot talking on their cell phone tried to mow us down. Good thing I have a loud horn.

I was bushed when I got home. Hubby was passed out on the couch. He has the sniffoos so I made a big pot of soup and tuna melt (with pickles) for supper. We were supposed to go out to see his sister's choir sing but we stayed home and watched Miss Marple movies in bed. I picked up my knitting needles and knit for about 15 mins and my hand feels ok so I'll give it a try again today.