Monday, 24 December 2012

I wish you the merriest!

If you celebrate Christmas - hope it's the merriest! Filled with family and friends and everything that makes you happy.
I'll be thinking of friends this season - Linda and Brenda, both of whom have parents dealing with heart issues (both are doing very well at last hearing - hoping it all just gets better!).
We'll have as much family as we can manage (or can manage to get here), on the 25th, and have planned Skype calls with those not around. Opening gifts via Skype should be interesting for my Mom and my in-laws! They are still trying to figure out what my BlackBerry does...
It should be a crazy, busy, wonderful day, with a healthy dose of family drama thrown in - it wouldn't be Christmas in this family without it.
We're heading to the cottage as soon as we can post-festivities. If the wi-fi is behaving itself there, I'll try and post. If not, I'll see you in the new year!

Friday, 21 December 2012

bring it on...

We decorated the tree (knitted star in place on top...)

It really reflects us and our interests (knitting, basketball, fishing)...

the mantel is done...

and the lights really sparkle (thanks, star filter!)

Even my china cabinet...

and buffet are ready...

and lit...
We are ready for the horde to descend upon us!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

festive, yet comfortable

On Christmas, I like to be comfortable, yet still a bit festive. Nothing over the top, but something beyond my usual hoodie. I've made this top before in summer weight cottons, and love it so much, I thought I'd try it in this taffeta. I didn't pay much for it (under $30), so if it didn't work, it wasn't a major loss.
Well, taffeta for the win!

(And not just taffeta, but taffeta with sewn on polka dots!)

Love. It. Just enough sheen and interest for the festive part, yet the pullover comfort style I love. I changed it up a bit fro the pattern, making the hem curved on this, rather than straight. I love it. The sleeves are 3/4 length which is my favourite, especially since I will be messing about in the kitchen, and there's nothing worse than sleeves getting in the way.

One would think I'd leave well enough alone and be good with it. But I have this other cut of taffeta...

And it's green, with some sequins... and wouldn't it be perfect? The fabric is too busy for anything beyond a simple silhouette...

Really, I'm sure I can carve out a couple of hours this weekend for this...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Because I can't leave well enough alone...

I saw this pattern for Christmas ornaments on Tanis's blog. It's called Balls Up! and it's a free download. I thought it was cute, but really thought it would be fiddly and a pain in the butt, so I didn't do much. Then I found it again, read through and thought (as I always do...) "bet I could chart out some names for a personalized ornament". Seems I could (and now it seems I've charted the names of most of the population of North America. Okay, maybe just me immediate friends and family, but it seems like a LOT.), and I decided to knit one up for the very new (and much adored) first grandson of a great co-worker. So I did. And, well it took me not much time. at all. So then I dug around my stash of fingering weight (remember all the hats I made this year? (and last?) I have a LOT of colours. Plus, I found a ball of sparkly silver grey wool left over from a sweater. That would look great with my boss's scarf. And I adore his wife, so she can't be left out.

So it seems I'm knitting ornaments. I've had to force myself back to the sock heels - I only have three more heels to do! - because all I want to knit are ornaments!

Won't these make great gift tags?

I mean, these are so freaking cute and so easy and quick! I made a slight change from the pattern - I used 3mm needles, because the polystyrene balls I had were just slightly larger than the ones recommended. I don't think it mattered - these stretch pretty well. If you are a tight knitter (cough, Nancy, cough...) you may want to either add a couple of stitches, or go up another needle size.
I've got to have at least three more done before the 25th - One of each our names for the tree - you know, just to REALLY up the ante with the in-laws... Good thing that I'm almost done my gift knitting.

I want to make them for the nieces and nephews, some frienss, my Mom, then of course a whole tree full of fair isle ones...

Monday, 17 December 2012

You guys know how to make my day!

I'm a sucker for the handwritten note. Even in this day of technology (and don't get me wrong - I LOOOOOVEEEEE tech!), a handwritten note, stamped and mailed, gets me every time.
And lately, I've been lucky enough to receive TWO!

One was from Marie - thanking me for the pajama pants she won - I was worried - fitting to someone you've never met is a little nerve wracking - but she gave me excellent measurements, because she says they fit perfectly. I'm so relieved and happy about that!

and I got one from Robyn - I had sent her kids some Montreal Canadiens earbuds - we had them hanging around the office, and I knew they were rabid fans, so it seemed fitting.
Want to see what will really put me over the edge?

not just a hand written note, but one written by KIDS!

I was verklempt! I've always had my son write his thank you notes, but last year, we went electronic - he's 13 after all - emails and texts rule...
To get this from Sean and Mack, well, it restores my faith that the written word will never die. (I'm okay mentioning her kids names - she posts them)

Thanks Ladies! Way to make my day!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Friday, 14 December 2012

It's not epic, but it is a fail...

The Morgan hat I was planning for my boss. Not that there's anything wrong with the pattern (although it is a bit fiddly...), it's just not for a relatively staid gentleman of a certain age. (okay, a grandfather of 62, who is a great guy, but not exactly hip...) Hip is what the Morgan is - its perfect for a hipster type person, who can carry off the slightly floppy style this is.

So I needed to salvage what I could and get something for my boss. Enter the two skeins of Madeline Tosh D in Tart (red) and the black colourway that I can't remember the name of. I know he loves scarfs, and loves red, so mistake red it is. It's a big save - a beautiful, soft, squooshy scarf in a two row repeat.
Add this to a pair of socks that I have for him, and the gift will be done!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Because the knitting freaks them out a bit...

As I've mentioned, we are hosting the husband's family for Christmas. that means, including us and my Mom, there's a minimum of 14, but we could be upwards of 20. Since we've been married for 20 years, and together for 7 before that, you'd think they'd be used to all the knitting by now. Not so much, it seems. Most of them are still surprised to see me knitting, (Really??) and when they come here, and see it all over (along with the sewing...) it still gives them the eyebrow-raising look.
So to make sure we are at maximum uncomfortable-ness, I've added to the repertoire. (Plus, I needed a new tree topper).
I found a star pattern, and then franken-sized it. (The original calls for fingering weight on 3mm needles, I used 2 strands of Cascade Eco-Wool, and 10mm needles). I also ran a strand of sparkly sequined stuff, because it seemed like the right thing to do. I started it at Knit Night (I actually started it twice, but we won't get into my inability to count...), and I finished it the next morning.

Seriously, it's that easy and fast. I'm going to make a bunch of regular sized ones eventually - my next goal is to have the tree completely handknit. I have 2 years before we get the family back for Christmas - I can do it...)
As you can see, I also needed something to stick on the tree top - toilet paper roll to the rescue! I punched holes around the top, and sewed it to the star bottom.
 I also tried to show the sparkle from the sequins with my star filter, but I don't think it worked. You'll have to trust me that it really does sparkle!
At first, as you can see, I just wrapped the roll with yarn. It worked and was okay, but then I got the idea of knitting a cover for the tube. Considering it's only 16 stitches wide and not many more rows, it didn't take long. And I think it's much better. The star is about 8 inches across, and about 3 inches in depth (it's two sided, with batting stuffed inside). The best part is it used very little wool and sparkle stuff. I have enough to make a few more, and I just might.

I can't wait to see the reaction...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Christmas means pajamas

Three new pairs. (actually 5, but two aren't here). The birds are of course for Sel & Poivre - she won and chose the wintery "kinda-mad" birds fabric. Then the polar bears are for a nephew who doesn't like the hand knit hats that the rest of the kids are getting. He does like the pajama pants, and he likes polar bears, so it's a win-win. Then the Christmassy flannel are for me (because I loved the fabric!)
There is another pair of wintery "kinda-mad" birds for a friend, and a pair in a fabulous pink golf print - perfect for her as she loves pink and loves to play golf. I swear if I ever found fabric with a curling print, I'd have to buy the whole bolt.
Wait a minute - there is another pair, in a great black Labrador dog print. (so that's six pairs... Okay, even I'm starting to see how annoying I must seem. I just have a lot of spare time, I guess...) But they are wrapped and ready for tonight - dinner with my best friend and her husband and two dogs. She gets the pajamas, as well as two large sofa pillows in a lab print as well. Perfect for her cottage. This was the first time I've ordered fabric online and I learned a couple of things - it took over FIVE WEEKS for it to arrive. Seriously. And I'm not talking about from the time of order, I'm talking about from the time I received notice that it shipped. FIVE WEEKS. That's ridiculous. I ordered 4 other things online after the fabric and received all of them before the fabric. Also, I can make regular pj pants out of about 2.4 metres of fabric. I forgot there is a difference between metres and yards, and also, the people at Fabricland are usually pretty generous - when I order 2 metres, I get about 2.4 metres, so I've gotten used to ordering 2 metres. Of course when I ordered 2 units from a US-based company, I got 2 yards. And really - barely 2 yards. So she is getting capri length pajama pants. I'm pretty annoyed at myself for that.
I'm making up for it with a great bottle of wine and a homemade cheesecake and homemade caramel and raspberry sauces for it. Seriously, you have to try caramel and raspberry together - delicious...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Christmas Sock Knitting

You want to know the coolest thing about these 8 pairs of socks?
They were all knit during "found time". Drive time to work or the cottage, waiting in waiting rooms, waiting in line, watching my son's activities. That time that non-knitters forget about when they look at you and say "I would love to knit, but I just don't have the time!".
The only part of these socks that I knit during "knitting time" are the heels. (I do an afterthought heel.) Right now I'm thick into heels -putting them all in. I can do about two heels a night, sometimes a little less than that.
And if you think 8 pairs of socks doesn't seem like much for a year of found time (I was actually surprised there weren't more...) I remembered that I did other knitting during those times - hats and other straight stuff (sweater bodies, etc.)
Here's three that already have the heels in:
(from top to bottom: Noro mismatched socks for my dancer nephew, alpaca socks for my father in law, and Cascade silk hand paint for my boss)

And the five that are still waiting:

(from left to right - Tofutsies for my Mom, Tanis cashmere for my brother's youngest son, Cascade silk hand paint for a friend, tofutsies for the boy's teacher (in school colours,no less!), and across the top, Bamboo stretch - destination unknown at this time, although it's looking good for my own sock drawer...)
Not a bad use of time!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Knits part one

I do a lot of Christmas knitting. The majority of it is very well received, and in most cases, eagerly anticipated. How can a knitter not enjoy that?
The very small minority that doesn't ask for knitted goods is always a crapshoot? Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they avoid me for the foreseeable future in case I try to foist more knitted goods on them?
(As a side note - avoiding me is tough - the ones that don't always love the knitting are relatives, and therefore required by parental pressure to at least smile at me...)
The crapshoots will come from this pile:

the hats. Nine of them, actually. Most will be very well received, but there are two that are iffy. There's a blue and yellow one near the top left, and the red and white at the bottom. Both for nephews (on the husband's side of the family), and both are school related. I took a chance, because both are thrilled with their new school situations - the blue and yellow is a new high school student, who got into the Performing Arts school in Brampton that he wanted, while the red and white is for my nephew that is away from home for the first time at Fanshawe College, and LOVING it. (I won't comment on whether the thrill is from the classes or the independence...)
This next pile is pretty much all a win:

scarves and shawls. (the double blue one missed the group shot...) IN the group - there are a couple of woven scarves that have no designated recipient yet, two Suncrests - both spoken for, a Wingspan for my Mom and two beaded infinity scarves, both tentatively taken. The double blue, as mentioned before is for my cottage neighbour - the rest of her family is getting hats from the above pile. I love this family - and they are high on the "get knits" list. Appreciative, and just great people.
The next is a win.
It's a knit that I completed a while ago, and was never sure of keeping it for myself or gifting it. It's Elizabeth's ZImmermans Green Sweater, but of course, as I knit it in red, it was dubbed The Red Green Sweater (by Brenda), an inside joke that I believe only Canadians will get:
("if women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!")
I finally realized that it is perfect for my MIL - her style, her perfect colour. So instead of sitting unworn in my closet, it goes to hers. (And hopefully gets worn more than stored.)
There's more Christmas knitting - next up, the socks!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

best. tweet. ever.

I'm not on Twitter, but I read a few feeds, including @That RachelH. I've met Rachel a few times, and consider her a friend. (she usually accompanies Stephanie when Steph visits our Guild and my house). She's subtly hilarious, and this tweet proves it.

Rachel Harvey@ThatRachelH
That thing where people look slightly unnerved when you're knitting but maintaining eye contact with them? Never gets old.
She nailed it. I freak out more people doing this. Even (to this day), members of my own family. Certainly other parents when I'm at the Boy's activities. Especially during his basketball games, when I can cheer the kids on by name, and by what play they are making (that's just the experience of years of coaching and playing myself...), and never drop a stitch!
Of course, I knit plain vanilla stockinette socks in the round - very hard to mess up...

Monday, 3 December 2012

just to prove it...

I made this draw back when my original blog stopped letting me post pictures.
I did actually pull Marie's name, and have since sent off the pants. (I really hope she likes them...)