Friday, December 17, 2010

happy hands

So.Much.Food! My little quilting group held our annual Christmas luncheon yesterday. I am so glad that I wore loose pants. There was a ton of food. We actually ran out of table space and I had to serve the soup from the kitchen. I was so full that I didn't eat supper and had a snack around 9:30pm consisting of a Bakewell tart that was leftover from the party. I brought home cabbage rolls and baked beans, too. Hubby ate all the cabbage rolls (the piggy) and some of the leftover soup. I'm going to tackle the baked beans today.

We also unwrapped our presents to each other which means that I can unveil what I've been working on.

Pattern: Funky Chunky Mitts by Lindsey Williard (Ravelry download)
Yarn: Gedifra Volata Tweed; one skein (50g; 110 yds) per pair
Needles: 5.5mm dpns
Notes: I started knitting in June but ended knitting 9 pairs in the last month. Heh - so much for getting a head start. I am so glad this project is done!

Now that I'm feeling better (thanks for all the get well wishes), baking has begun. It didn't start smoothly. The night before the first batch, I came home and hubby tells me that the oven is broken. He tried heating up a shepherd's pie and it took forever. A quick check of the oven proved that the bottom element wasn't turning on. ACK! Our appliance book (the best $40 we've ever spent) said to check the electrical connections but of course, I loaned my DMM to my Dad and if hubby had called, I would've brought it home with me. Anyways, we assumed that the element was broken and not any of the electrical innards. Hubby ran off to the parts store first thing the next morning and the oven is working again. Yay! The new element gets really hot and we managed to slightly scorch the first batch of cookies. So the rack has been raised and hopefully, things are under control now. We baked 8 doz chocolate cranberry cookies yesterday night and we're baking chocolate meltie cookies today. We're making snickerdoodles tomorrow. I'll be making cookie deliveries all next week.

And just before bed, I managed to kitchener the toe on my Christmas socks.

Pattern: my usual 60 st top down with short row heel; changed colours every 5 rows
Yarn: Diamond Yarn Luxury Collection Foot Loose; 1 sk green and 1 sk multi
Needles: 2.25mm dpns
Notes: Pair number 56! I was going to make these for my sister but I'm keeping them for myself. I love manually striped socks because I get to pick which colours to stripe.

This'll be my last post before the 25th so I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Ricky and Phoebe would like to add "Meowy Catmas":

Sunday, December 12, 2010


That's me in a nutshell for the last 4 days (and counting). I've caught some kind of really nasty bug. Everything hurt so badly that I couldn't even hold up a paperback book while lying in bed. All I could do was moan quietly. Phoebe took pity on me and dragged her furry self off her heated bed to keep me company. Eating has not been possible and it's rough staying adequately hydrated. I'm guzzling flat ginger ale and eating plain white bread. I'm missing out on a cinnamon bun Christmas party today. Pooh!

Not a lot of anything happening. No knitting, cleaning, baking, wrapping, etc. I am soooo behind. I need a magic wand (or an army of elves) to wave at all my Christmas cards otherwise, they'll arrive after Christmas.

Before I got sick, I finally sewed the buttons on L's Christmas present.

Pattern: my own; a combo of Tasia's cardigan and the seamless yoke from "The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns"
Yarn: Nashua Superwash in 3 different colours (dk blue, light blue, yellow) and Dream in Color Classy in Go Go Grassy. I used 2 skeins of dk blue and just small amounts of the other colours.
Needle: 4.5mm for the body and 4.0mm for the button band
Notes: The cardi is supposed to fit a 1-2yo. The recipient is 18mos so I hope it fits ok.

I matched the stripes on the hem and cuffs but I went wild in the yoke. Switching colours whenever I felt like it. There were a bajillion ends to weave in but it's worth it. The pencil buttons came from a friend. She had them in her button stash. I used the DiC Classy because it's the leftover yarn from L's Dad's fingerless mitts (also a Christmas gift). Father and son will match. Awwwww!

Friday, December 3, 2010

December is sneaky

I'm sitting here updating my day planner and I'm shocked to discover that it's already December. November flew on by and I barely acknowledged it. Is it possible to rewind and play back last month?

Since it's Dec, deadlines are looming and I'm madly scrambling around. Hubby got the outdoor lights up last weekend. The tree is still in the box waiting for me to move living room furniture around to make room for it. We'll get it up this weekend even if it kills me. Today is wrap and mail all international parcels which should've gone out last week. And instead of knitting Christmas prezzies, I've been working on these:

This pooling scarf is going veeeeery slowly. It seems that I'm ripping out half of the stitches I make to get the colours to line up properly. Ugh! But it is looking very nice and worth the effort. Next time, I will choose yarn that is dyed more consistently across the skein.

And this is a new project that I cast on a few days ago when I threw down the pooling scarf in disgust. It's plain ole linen stitch. I wound a skein of dark purple and collected all my sock yarn scraps. I work 2 rows of linen stitch in purple and then I grab a contrasting yarn from the bag and work 2 more rows. I keep switching colours every 2 rows and voila. Pretty scarf.

Off to find empty boxes, packing tape, and look for my stash of Christmas cards. Only 22 days til Christmas...

Friday, November 26, 2010

more white stuff

It really snowed hard yesterday. I shoveled twice - once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Hubby shoveled late in the afternoon before it started raining. It's still raining but it's going to take awhile before all the snow gets washed away. I whined to my sister who told me to "suck it up, buttercup". She's been suffering through a brutal cold snap. I read that her city was the second coldest place on Earth behind Antarctica. Brrrr - that's cold!!!!

Finally, an FO and a WIP that I can show you. At work, I finished a crochet sample for the yarn shop.

Pattern: Sunflowers Satchel by Asami Kawa
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock; col S279; one skein (100g; 328 yds)
Hook: 3.25mm
Notes: I made the smaller size. This bag will be a store sample. Overall, this was a fast & fun project. I ran into some problems right at the end - the start location of the mesh and the start location of the shoulder strap. I ripped out the mesh twice and started each side of the shoulder strap twice. The first shoulder strap error was completely my fault - I didn't see in the instructions to switch from double crochet to single crochet.

I'm taking a wee break from secret Christmas knitting to show you my attempts at pooling:

This is very boring garter stitch and nothing like what Gladys (the genius that she is) creates. If it turns out well, I might give it to hubby for Christmas.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

white stuff

We woke up this morning to 2-3" of snow.

This is one of earliest snowfalls that I can remember where it didn't all melt by morning. It was borderline freezing so I did have to chip a layer of ice off the back steps. It's supposed to stay cold and clear so I expect the snow to last through the week.

One of the prettiest plants in my garden is the Beauty Berry bush out front. It's so pretty covered in snow.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

lumpy rain

Yep, it's that time of year. I encountered freezing rain and wet snow on the way to my LYS tonite. It was wet snowing on the way home. I had to take hubby's SUV (with bald-ish tires) because my Subaru was at home getting the snow tires installed. We've ordered new tires for the SUV but they haven't arrived yet so we'll be sharing my car if the snowy weather continues.

Lots of knitting going on but a lot of it is top secret so I can't blog about it.

Christmas shopping is in full swing. Hubby and I went to our first craft fair on Wed. We're going back tomorrow to look for a few more items.

Since the house is colder, Ricky has created a snuggly sleeping spot for himself.

This is a deep bookshelf in our bedroom that I use to store quilts in. Ricky reached up and pawed at one of the quilts until it fell on the floor leaving this nice little spot for him to curl up in. He's such a special kitty.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

what a pain in the butt!!!

Literally! I went outside yesterday after lunch to throw some tulips into the ground. I'm planting a small cutting garden. I was out there 15 mins tops in heavy sweatpants and the one mosquito in the entire province found me and bit me in the ass. It's November! How can there be any mosquitoes left? My butt itches every time I sit down. You have no idea how annoying that is. I really, really hate mosquitoes.

I've been pretty busy last week - a couple of knitting classes to teach, some homework for an upcoming class, hanging out with my peeps, and going to a book reading.

My manually striped sock is progressing well. I'm past the heel now:

This is Grant Lawrence. He's the author of the book at the book signing. The book is titled - "Adventures in Solitude: What Not To Wear To A Nudist Potluck". It's a memoir of his adventures in Desolation Sound - a boat access only recreational area. I really enjoyed reading it. The book reading was lots of fun. He showed us a short home movie and his wife, Jill Barber sang a few songs. I got my book signed and he graciously posed with my sock for a picture. While I was taking the photo, I heard a laugh behind me and it was Grant's Mom. She told me that Grant learned how to knit when he was young. Maybe holding my sock will inspire him to start knitting again?

Christmas knitting is zooming along. I have just a few finishing touches to make on the yoked sweater - weaving in the remaining ends, knitting the button bands, and sewing on the buttons.

It looks so darned cute!

Hubby is going out of town for a Yahoo conference so we spent most of yesterday catching up on housework and watching a few rental DVDs that I wanted to return today. I didn't feel like working on one of my WIPs so I cast on a new pair of socks for myself.

My MIL gave this alpaca/bamboo blend to me a few Christmases ago. I find alpaca incredibly itchy despite the fact that I'm not sensitive to wool. I've been wanting to make something nice with this yarn but the only place where I can tolerate wearing alpaca is on my feet.

Gladys has been playing around with yarn dyeing so I dragged out a few skeins of yarn this morning to over dye. I had this pretty blah skein - off white & beigey tan. Three packages of Kool Aid later (2 Changin' Cherry and 1 Berry Blast), I've got this:

It reminds me of beach glass in the sand. I like it.

After being terrorized by Ricky this week because her favourite sleeping spot is on the rug right in front of the litter box (Ricky cannot resist smacking Phoebe when she's lying there), Phoebe's found a new favourite sleeping spot.

It's an ootch too small for her butt and her tail & back leg fall off. I should go and get another one and glue them together. Or would that be spoiling her too much?

Monday, November 1, 2010

lotsa knitting going on

Pattern: Dashing by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy; 1 skein (100g; 250 yds); col Go Go Grassy
Needles: 4mm dpns
Notes: Another Christmas gift crossed off my list. I have 40g leftover. I knit the larger size on smaller needles for a firmer fabric.

Ignore the fact that they look small on hubby. He's got monster hands and big wrists.

I immediately cast on for a child's sweater.

I'm using the seamless yoke design from The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. The hem, cuffs, and yoke will have stripes. The green is the leftover Classy from the Dashing mitts. Father & son will match!

I joined a CAL on Ravelry and I've picked socks as my project. I've never crocheted socks before so I swatched.

I got gauge on the second attempt. I think this will be fun.

I wound up a few skeins of sock yarn to make another pair of manually striped socks.

I think they look very festive. Hopefully, I'll finish them in time for Christmas.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dyeing with a knitting loom

There's a stripey sock KAL going on in one of my ravelry groups, and of course I had to join in.

Part of the discussion involved dyeing your own stripey socks -- and since I picked up a ton of easter egg dye last May, I had to try it out.

Most dyers use some kind of warping board to create their striping patterns. I had received a set of knitting looms from my mother-in-law for Christmas a few years ago, and I wondered if it would work as a warping board.

The answer: perfectly!

I wound my yarn around a section of the knitting loom a few times, then moved onto the next section for a few more rounds. I tried to keep it random, between 5-15 loops per group. 

Then into the dye colours they went, purple, green and blue. 

Then after a soak and a little time in the microwave, here they are. This looks like a tangled mess, but it's two skeins of yarn, and all the little loops are securely tied in a couple of places. 

A little bit of a towel dry, then the loops went back onto the knitting loom to dry overnight. 

 I wound them off the knitting loom the next day, and they were so pretty!

So of course I had to knit them up.

And wear them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

the dreaded C word

There's 56 knitting days left til CHRISTMAS. Bet you didn't know (or want to know).

I am looking at my current gift list and trying to figure out how much knitting I'll do for friends/family. To help me decide, I had a quick look at the knitting that I've been doing this year:

11 pairs of socks: 7 pairs for me; 3 pairs given away; one is a Christmas gift
1 short sleeve cardigan for me
1 short sleeve pullover for me (that's too big)
1 baby cardigan: gifted to my newest niece
1 pair of mittens for me
1 pair of fingerless mitts: bday gift for my sister
1 scarf: bday gift for my BFF
2 small shawls: one for me and one sent to my Shawl Wars target
1 mumble-mumble: Christmas gift for P-la
1 mitten: quilt label for Arlene's mitten quilt
1 crocheted scarf: store sample
Finished knitting Nancy's sweater for her

I've actually done a lot of knitting for others this year so I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't do much Christmas knitting. Since some of it is already finished (pats self on back), my current list looks like this:

BFF's hubby - fingerless mitts; 75% done
BFF's child - sweater; have yarn; no pattern picked
2 nieces - Hello Kitty hats; have yarn and pattern
Hubby - I need to frog last year's Tux mittens and reknit them so that the thumb fits.

That doesn't look too bad, does it? Certainly do-able in 56 days.

I have started Christmas shopping, too. My goal every year is to finish by the end of Nov. This year's date might slip a little since Circle Craft (a high end craft show) is scheduled 2 weeks later than usual. While I was out today, I picked up a stocking stuffer for the nieces:

This gift is definitely going to keep me in the "Favourite Auntie" spot.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I am armed

There is a rodent in our house. After posting yesterday, I heard a scrabbling noise and when I looked up, I saw the soffit insulation M.O.V.E. I yelled and banged on the wall and it ran away and I'm assuming, out of the house. What is scary is that this rodent can potentially get into the rest of the house so we're keeping the doors shut to this area and I've removed all the food (a bag of gummy bears). I'm trying to decide whether to clear out my yarn and fabric (good nesting materials). Anyways, I am armed with my largest cow bell. It seemed to deter last year's roof rat. I am expecting the rodent specialists tomorrow. They will evict whatever's up there and screen off all access points (again).

Monday, October 25, 2010

sunshine and socks

Still on a bit of a sock knitting binge...

Pattern: plain top down sock
Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock; col 180; 2 skeins
Needles: 2mm dpns
Notes: Pair #54. I started these in Jun 2008 and they're finally done! I decided to finish them in time for hubby's bday. These were a bear to knit - 80 sts per round on teeny tiny needles in a colourway that I don't like (hubby went to the store and picked it). And hubby has size 13 feet. He's got 5 pairs of handknit socks now.

I just finished teaching a beginners knitting class and one student completely finished her scarf. Yay! And three students have signed up to take their second class. I'm still teaching my baby sweater class and that is going reasonably well. I'm scheduled to teach a sock class starting next week but no one has signed up so I expect that one will be cancelled. That's ok - more time for me to knit socks.

Pattern: top down sock; picot cuff
Yarn: Trekking XXL; col 126
Needles: 2.25mm bamboo dpns
Notes: Pair #55! I'm going to be matchy-matchy by wearing these socks and the matching mittens at the same time.

I have restarted Linda's R2S raffle socks. The previous sock was not going to fit her (after knitting the entire leg) so I ripped it out and put the yarn in timeout. This was in Aug. I can finally stand to look at the yarn but not the pattern. After some searching, I found something that would work and I've got 3" knit and I'm pretty sure it will fit ok. Fingers crossed!

Ricky doesn't really have anything to say because he's unconscious.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I'm in a KAL over on Ravelry and it's all about striping socks. I've got a coupla pairs on the go and this is the first one that I've finished:

Pattern: 60 st top down; 2x2 ribbed cuff; short row heel (to preserve striping)
Yarn: Yarn Candy Sweet Fiber's 100% merino sock; 2 skeins unknown colourway; 50g per skein
Needles: 2.25mm dpns
Notes: Each stripe is 5 rows. Tried a coupla jogless stripe methods and ended up using the "on the first stitch of the second round, knit into the stitch in the row below". There's a bit of a ridge where the yarn is carried but I'm hoping that will even out after a wash & block. For the heel, I knit the first half of the short row with colour A and then knit the other half of the heel with colour B. It preserved the striping on the instep. Alternated the start colour so that the toes would be different.

And lookit my new "show off hand knit socks" shoes:

I've been looking for a good pair of Mary Jane style shoes for what seems like an eternity. These aren't too dressy but they're not too casual either so I can wear them all the time.

And in the niece knitting news, my sister informs me that my niece took her knitting to bed and fell asleep while working on it. Funny but a little dangerous if she'd rolled over onto a knitting needle (even if they're blunt bamboo ones). Her tension is improving (less squeaking of yarn on the needles) and she's dropping less stitches. Woo hoo!

I look like a freak today. I walked into the bathroom this morning and my left eye is only about half open. There seems to be a bug bite on my eyelid so it's all puffed up and I've got a huge stye that seems to have cropped up in the lower lid. It looks like someone whacked me in the eye. Time to slap a warm compress on my eye and have a little lie down.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Gladys and I are participating in Shawl Wars on Ravelry. Once you receive your death shawl, you are required to post an obituary with at least one picture of the shawl. I had the good fortune to receive a Dover Castle shawl (knit by djduckee) and it was designed by Judy Marples. Lucky me, she's a local. So I contacted her to see if she would help me with my obit pic and she said yes. What did people think of us as they were driving past this:

Clearly, we were slightly insane. But it was so much fun! Judy was a good sport and let me do pretty much anything I wanted. BTW, she brought the knitting-needle-through-the-head prop. She wore it last Halloween.

Both our families came into town for Thanksgiving. My MIL is here for an extended visit and my sis, BIL, nieces, and nephew dogs also dropped by. I missed Thanksgiving with the in-laws because I was babysitting the nieces while my sis & BIL went to her 20 year high school reunion. While they were out, I taught my nieces how to knit. The oldest wasn't really interested but she wanted to try because I was doing it. The youngest really surprised me. I showed her how to hold the needles (she calls them sticks) and wrap the yarn (she calls it string). It only took a few tries for her to accurately execute a knit stitch. When I escorted them to bed, my niece made me promise to knit with her the next day.

When I showed up Sunday morning, my niece immediately pestered me to get out the knitting. She was impatient to get started. She mostly remembered what she needed to do and only needed a few minor corrections. She knit during every spare moment. I was very impressed. I managed to lure her away from the needles when I promised to take her yarn shopping so that she could pick something out to make a scarf. After supper, we knit some more. My sister took a video of us. It's pretty cute.

This is what she made. There are a few "holes" which she told me that she did on purpose. One time, she knit the stitch with the tail instead of the working yarn. Otherwise, it's not too bad for her first piece. I have to work on her tension. She really holds the yarn tightly and you can hear the acrylic squeaking on the needles. It's like nails on a chalkboard.

The boys were downstairs doing this:

Can you spot the two Xboxs? The intense concentration is caused by playing Halo Reach on the Legendary setting.

My nieces loved their Hello Kitty Halloween trick-or-treat bags. I am their favourite Auntie. My sister would point out that I'm their only Auntie.

My sister loves her new fingerless mitts.

Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Punta Yarns merisoft Hand Painted Aran; 1 skein (197 yds; 100g) in col HP52
Needles: 4mm dpns
Notes: My sister's hands are tiny! She doesn't even stretch out the ribbing. The cables don't even hug her skinny wrists. If I were to make this again for her, I would leave out one whole pattern repeat (5 sts) to make it fit better.

Dad cooked way too much food (as usual) so I expect to be eating leftovers for many days. And poor hubby has the sniffoos so I should go make him some tea or something. He's shuffling around in his snuggie. Poor baby.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

the best Thanksgiving ever!

My six year old niece is really knitting!!!!! I gave her a quickie lesson yesterday and today she's slowly but surely executing knit stitches. I am so proud!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

favourite Auntie status

How to achieve favourite Auntie status:

You make the nieces Halloween Hello Kitty trick-or-treat bags.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

yarn hangover

Have you started Christmas knitting yet? I have :P

Pattern: your basic top down with a picot cuff and slipped stitch heel
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in col River
Needles: 2.25mm dpns
Notes: These are a Christmas gift for someone special but I'm not telling who. Pair #52.

For my birthday, hubby bought me tix to see Harry Connick Jr. The concert was Fri night.

They don't allow pictures inside the theatre so this is all you get. Harry was wonderful even with a huge walking cast on his right leg (something about ripping a calf muscle while exercising). Lucky for us, leg injuries don't impact the lungs or vocal cords. It did limit his movement on stage but he did manage to shake his booty enough to make me drool a little.

Today, I have a bit of yarn hangover. Yesterday, I filled hubby's SUV with 4 other crazee knitters (3 that I'd never met before), a bunch of food, and went on a yarn crawl called Yarn Harvest.

We started out at Black Sheep Yarns (where I work) to witness the MadTosh mosh pit. It was pretty hectic. I didn't buy anything but I think everyone else in my group did. We had a knitting newbie in our group - Meggin and we worked hard at corrupting her. She broke her "only buy yarn for a specific project" rule at the very first store. I'm so proud of her.

After BSY and struggling through some crazy road construction, we made it to Baaad Anna's. Didn't buy anything there. I was saving myself for our next stop - SweetGeorgia!!!!! I was not disappointed. She had racks and racks of yarn and spinning fibre drying in the main room. We headed up to the loft area to do our "real shopping".

I just happened to have a sock WIP in my purse and I asked Felicia to pose with it.

That's vintage SweetGeorgia yarn (in the framboises colour) that she dyed before her hiatus. The picture's blurry because I might've been a little excited to hold the camera steady.

Then we headed east and into Surrey. We took a little break for lunch at Semihamoo Park in White Rock. We decided to skip Penelope's and head to Knitopia. Their new shop in White Rock is teeny tiny so there's yarn stacked right to the ceiling.

Our last stop of the day was 88 Stitches. I was hoping to meet Judy Marples but she'd already left by the time we got there. She's the designer for the Dover Castle shawl which is one of the patterns in Shawl Wars. BTW, Gladys and I are still very much alive.

And this is what the back of the SUV looks like after a yarn crawl:

Hubby's SUV is a Toyota Highlander so that you can understand the scale of our purchases. Not all of it is mine. Just this:

From left to right: 3 skeins of SweetGeorgia; 5 skeins of Yarn Candy; a skein of Berroco Lustra; and a skein of West Coast Fibre Works (the perfect Yarn Harvest colour)

I also bought half a pound of West Coast Fibre Works BFL from Knitopia for spinning:

As we headed to the restaurant to meet all the other Yarn Harvesters for dinner, I realized that I wasn't that hungry. We'd been eating all day - pakoras and chocolate coconut bars (courtesy of Marina), chips & 3 layer dip (Meggin's contribution), and a super yummy chocolate banana bread (love you, Judy).

The dinner was super fun. All these knitters crammed into the private room and spilling out into the restaurant. A lot of us showed off our purchases. The yarn fumes were overwhelming at times. After dinner, the organizers held a draw for all the door prizes.

My number was drawn twice and I won a pattern book and a small notebook for keeping track of yarn/projects i.e. the hard copy version of Ravelry. My friend, Vicki won the grand prize (valued at $275) containing yarn, patterns, Namaste bag, and a gc to Signature Needle Arts.

After being on the road for more than 12 hours, I had just enough energy to drop off everyone and then head home for my bed. I slept for 10 hours straight.

Phoebe says, "The best cure for any hangover is a little catnap on my new cardboard lounger."