Wednesday, 30 January 2013

More fabric bits

Knit Night at the Yarn Store has commenced again! My Wednesday nights knitting with the girls are back, and I couldn't be happier. Of course, that means I have to walk through the Quilt Store to get to our knitting nook, and well, that always causes me problems. Good problems, but still...

I cannot walk by those baskets of end cuts without picturing project bags! And the cuts are so inexpensive - never more that $4.00 each, and often less than that.  How am I supposed to resist that?
These were the latest purchases - 3 cuts of nice weight quilting fabrics.
A pink floral with hits of blue, purple and green,
an abstract floral print (which Nancy is coveting)
and a beautiful blue hydrangea print. I love hydrangeas - I have them at home and at the cottage. I've already made one bag of the pink, and sent it off to a friend that could use a little pick-me-up - I'll let her share if she wants. The others will be bags as soon as I can get into my sewing room (been a little busy, lately...) Of course, this will bring me to a ridiculous number of project bags in my possession. Even I don't have that may UFOs to need so many bags. So that means... giveaways! Once they are done, I'll give some away. Sound good?

Monday, 28 January 2013

Time from a knitter's point of view

Last week, we had a bit of a storm situation - a strange one, since when we left our town north of Toronto on Tuesday morning, it was clear and dry, yet as we traveled to work (usually about a 40 minute drive), we endured a snow squall, car accidents and really just crappy driving. I texted my husband to see how his drive was (his was fine, he doesn't come as far south as I do, so he avoided the "streamer"). He asked how long it was taking us to get to work (My boss was driving, I was the passenger, and he knows I knit when I don't drive).

I said "about 3 inches of sock".

He said "so about 2 hours?"

He nailed it. He knows me so well...

Friday, 25 January 2013

good for other uses...

You know I make a lot of project bags. And while they are great for knitting projects, they have other uses as well. My son was going to a birthday party, and I wanted to wrap the ubiquitous gift cards a little differently than just tucking them into a card. I had this great orange batik with a turtle print, and thought it would be perfect.
Then, to really make it special, I used the lettering function on my sewing machine to add the birthday girl's name on a strip of co-ordinating fabric that I sewed on before constructing the bag.
It went over pretty well, from what my son told me. Of course, this really only works for girls - I'm not sure a guy would find this too useful or fun... Luckily, I get to indulge me creative side occasionally - while the boy goes mostly to guy birthdays (paintball is a favourite destination...), there are a few girl friends that include some of the guys.
And I've been told that the other girls at the party went bat-crap crazy over Victoria's gift bag. The boy thinks I might have to make more of them for the other girls. (and knowing how girls talk - even ones that weren't at the party are probably in the know by now...)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

back to an old favourite

Once I got all the thrum stuff done for my workshop, I went back to a project that;s been lingering. My Navy laceweight cardigan.
This was the cardigan where I used the contiguous sleeve method. It's been sitting in a project bag for a while, and when I was in Kitchener I found what was holding me up - beads. This is so lightweight, I decided that I would add some beads to give it some bottom weight.
I found the perfect navy beads in Kitchener back in September, but it still took until now to do anything with them. My plan is a random placement of beads, getting more dense as I get closer to the hem. I'm loving the Tanis Fibre Arts laceweight for this, and the beads are perfect. The fit is good so far (It's always hard to tell when you make up the pattern as you go along). I think I will also bead along the button band and sleeve hems. I'll decide that when I get to them...
Either way, it's nice to get back to a project!

Monday, 21 January 2013

getting ready for a workshop

Our Guild is very big on learning new skills, and we have a wealth of talent within, so we often run workshops taught by members. I was honoured to be asked to show and teach the process of thrumming - whether it be slippers or mittens or anything else.
As the workshop will be at the February meeting, I thought I'd best give myself a bit of a refresher!
Of course, thrumming means a great deal of supplies (at least for me - I gathered all my fleece bits, and any mitten-suitable wools that caught my eye...)
For the first one, I decided on this lovely gold Wellington Fibre wool/mohair blend. I wasn't sure I had enough for a mitten, so I made a tiny ribbing just to combat any curling. I will go back and pick up stitches just under this to knit a proper mitten cuff. It's my cheat to ensure I have enough of a wool for what I want to do. (Actually thinking ahead! Who would have thought that of me??)
the added cuff worked out well, but the mitten is not my favourite. I used 4mm needles, and should have gone down a size, It's still very warm, since I used large thrums, so there's very little wind penetration. But, because I used such large thrums (about 4 inches long), this has the look of a boxing glove.
You'll see in this mitt, the thrums are lined up in rows and columns.
The next mitt uses the same weight of wool (Wellington Fibres again!), but in a blue-based multi colour. For this one, I used some white alpaca roving I had around.
This mitten is a slimmer version, and a better fit. (I also did the ribbing in the wool itself, now that I know there is enough in each ball)...
I love how the thrums make little hearts!. I still have to add thumbs to these, but I am waiting for the Guild meeting to do so, so I can show how to add in an afterthought thumb.
The final project is some slipper boots. I found a pattern - Highland Slippers - and dug around in the stash and came up with some ancient Patons Up Country. (anyone remember that stuff?) I grabbed a ziploc bag of natural coloured alpaca roving and went at it.
Totally done from stash, as I even had to slipper soles!
One thing about this pattern - it's not well written. Especially since I paid for it. I expect a little better than "try to maintain thrum pattern as best as possible through heel construction" (or something like that...) Plus, since you have to do the heel flap back and forth rather than in the round, I would have appreciated instructions on how to thrum on a purl row, as there is a trick (purling through back of loop). I figured it out, but I've been knitting for decades and can see how it should be. New knitters would not enjoy this. It is also quite baggy around the ankle, and while I had slipper soles that fit me feel, I didn't take into account the fact that there would be a lot of extra wool and alpaca on the soles, so these don't quite fit my feet. Not a big issue, as I can give them to someone with the right size feet (I'm thinking a friend from the cottage...). I do plan on making myself some slippers like this - I like the boot style, but as I am a girl that wears flip flops 9 months of the year, I don't really like super warn slippers, So I'm thinking just plain knit (without the thrums) and a bit of ankle shaping. We'll see...

Friday, 18 January 2013

best kind of gift

We have these friends - the kids are friends from way back, and have been on the same baseball team for seasons. Through that, the parents have become friends as well. (it usually happens that way - the kids spend that much time together, we paretns spend hours together sitting on bleachers, and there is constant back and forth of parents picking up and dropping off.) We get together for dinner and/or cards once in a while. There have been socks given to the dad (I did it because he's a nice guy, and they are very generous with our son). Of course, I told him that he only got socks because he whined so much during baseball season about wanting them...
One day over the Christmas holidays, I went to pick up my son from their house, and as we were leaving, the Dad gave me this bag and said "Merry Christmas, thanks for all you do". (We are pretty generous with their son as well...)
When I got home and opened it, I was thrilled to see this!
Wool! Gorgeous sock wool! When I texted my thanks, I jokingly asked if it was consciously a male colourway and a female colourway - i.e. were they hinting for some socks? Both came back right away with NO! This wool is for you!!
Would you believe, that other than from my husband and son, (and other specifically knitter friends like Nancy or Susan) this is the FIRST TIME someone has given me wool as a gift? (I'm not counting my SIL who gave me ball of Frill Seeker, then asked for a scarf in it. That was a job, not a gift...)
In all my years knitting, and with my extended family, no one has given me wool. When asked for gift suggestions, I always say wool, but they always say "oh, but you already have so much of it!" and buy me lavender lotion (I hate the scent of lavender...)
These people GET me... (and while he already has socks, she is SO getting a beautiful shawl of some sort... she's a scarfy type lady...)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

sewing stuff

I'm not sure why winter always brings about a need in me to sew. Maybe it's because so many fabrics go on sale right after Christmas, and since I have no will power, I end up buying them.

The clearance section at Fabricland can be hit or miss. Sometimes, it seems I can't find anything - it's all too synthetic-y, or not my colours, or honestly, just plain ugly. This time around, I scored huge! Each of the following 4 fabrics were in the clearance, at $3.00 per metre! At three metres for each cut, a mere $9.00 (plus my time, I know...) makes a top with extra fabric left over.

This is a rayon/cotton blend, with a beautiful hand. It's an abstract floral-y print in tones of black and grey. I originally thought this would be a muslin of a new pattern, but it's turning out quite nice, so will probably end up wearable. It still have sleeves to make, and opinions to gather on whether this over part is too much. so far I think I like it - it's not gathered, so it's not too frilly, and I think the length gives it some depth. I have come to the realization that I don't need multitudes of patterns - I know the silhouette that works for me, and I'd rather get interest from fabrics rather than try too many new patterns to see if I like them. 50 years old, sewing for over 40 of them and I FINALLY get it...
***Note - since writing this, I've finished this top, and well, it's a loss. I mean, it's not BAD, but the neckline is actually too fussy for me. I do like the fit of the top itself, so that's good, but the ruffle-thing has got to go. Back to my TNT (Tried n' True patterns...***
 This next one is a silk/poly blend. (I know! $3/metre for a silk blend! Score!) Again - probably destined to be a tunic style top, or perhaps a simple shift dress. Have you seen Indygo Junctions patterns? I'm in love with the London Jacket and the Mod Top and Tunic - this might be perfect for this fabric.
Another rayon cotton print in an abstract floral. Again - a simple top - perfect for summer with capris or shorts.
A 100% cotton. This was quite stiff,and I wondered if it was full of sizing, and would droop into limpness after a wash. When you pay $3/metre for things, you take a chance this will happen - I've had it happen before. Not this time - it did lose a fair bit of stiffness, but it kept a nice hand - again, perfect for a tunic. It will look great with jeans and my new brown riding boots.
this next one is a bit of a crap shoot. A fully sequined knit. I know. sequins. lots of them. for me, a jeans and hoodie girl. But it was on deep discount (not clearance), and I figured a metre would do whatever I wanted out of it. Well, when she went to cut it, there was already a cut piece. She looked at it, said "close enough to a metre" and charged me only that. Well. It was actually TWO metres! Still, what I'm going to do with two metres of fully sequined fabric - I'm thinking a very plain, pencil type skirt for next year's holiday season. I actually have enough to make a full length (or mid calf) one as well as a knee length. This should be fun to watch...
Then, since the Christmas fabrics were all discounted, I got 3 metres of this. Not sure what it will become - probably napkins. There's a nice lime green in it that will match my Christmas tablecloths perfectly, and that will give me a couple of napkin choices for Christmas.
Think I'd better spend some quality time with my sewing machine...

Monday, 14 January 2013

Living up to it's name

I seemed to be on a cowl kick over the holidays. Not only did I make the Lacey Arches one, I felt the need to knit another Pretty Thing.
I bought this pattern from Steph years ago, and have made it a few times. Then I saw Needles making one, and it said to me "you have that pattern. bet you even have wool that will work. Make one NOW".
When your inner voice starts using the capital letters NOW, I find it's just easier to listen...
So I printed off the pattern, and went for a stash dive. Now I know why the inner voice was yelling at me - it had somehow convinced the stash to barf up a few  balls of an ancient Elann Baby Alpaca Silk I had completely forgotten about. Why these three balls were suddenly sitting on the top of a stash pile when I hadn't seen them in months (cough years cough) was beyond me. But it was perfect. A deep, muted dark green, one of my favourite colours.
I made a couple of adjustments - I added a repeat to the width, and one to the length as well. And even with these additions, I still have enough of the alpaca silk to make another one. I may have to - I originally thought about giving this as a gift, but you know what? I'm keeping it.
I probably didn't have to add a repeat to the length, but I kind of like the fact it folds over a bit.

Friday, 11 January 2013

combining sewing and knitting

One of the nice things about being a knitter who sews, is that I can make my own project bags, and size them as I like them, as well as using the fabrics that I want.
I made a bunch of bags before Christmas - Linda, Nancy and I were getting together for a little Christmassy knit night at Linda's, and I thought these would make a nice little gift. Unfortunately, our knit night didn't happen, as Linda's mom had a bit of a health crisis, and Linda obviously had other things on her mind than hosting Nancy and I! The good news is that Linda's Mom is on the road to recovery - it won't be an easy road, and it's tough on Linda, but at least steps are being taken. The other good news, is I got to see both of my friends at a recent Guild meeting, so I was able to gift them with a couple of project bags each!
Lets face it - I need these women to take good care of their stashes. We all have a reciprocal agreement that if anything happens to us, the other two get the stash! (Although mine also goes to Susan - my poor husband will have lots of phone calls to make if anything happens to me...)
Most of my project bag fabrics come from either remnants of my sewing projects (after cutting out a pattern, I always check the remnants and cut out rectangles of a good enough size for bags.)
I also get off cuts from the Quilt Store when I go for Knit Night. They have all these baskets scattered about the store - with remnant cuts of gorgeous quilting fabrics at ridiculously low prices. I never seem to get out of that store without at least 2 or 3 packs...
Here are some of them cut up and ready to sew into bags - a cute asparagus print (I already have a couple of pomegranate ones, why not asparagus?), some fantastic batiks, a check and a daisy print.
The bags take so little time to make, and are so useful. Lots of these will be give aways coming up. I promised more giveaways through December, and that didn't pan out, so I'll have to make it up to you!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

new cowl

Okay, I get that Blogger WILL let you upload picutres, but only in the HTML mode, which is a paina nd takes longer, and limits the number of pictures, but at least I can upload! And once the pictures are there, I can switch to compose mode and work with them that way. But, it's a pain, and I hope BLogger will fix the bug soon...
Some of the knitting I did over the holidays was this cowl - very simple, its' the Lacey Arches Infinity Scarf, and it's a free download. Of course, mine is very different from the pattern - the original is worsted weight, and calls for 6.5mm needles - I used sock (fingering) weight and a 3.75mm needle. So, to get the doubled effect, I added 50 stitches.
I used a stash skein of HPKY Donegal yarn int he FOREST colourway. It seemed slightly thicker and tweedier than I would normally go for in a sock yarn, but seemed perfect for this project.
And I was right. It IS perfect for this project. I basically kept knitting until it looked like I would run out of wool, and it gave me the perfect size.
I blocked it pretty severely - I wasn't sure 50 stitches were enough extra to make it long enough. Turns out I didn't have to stretch it so far - there's plenty of room. I may re-block it to resize it, but knowing me, I probably won't. It fits great as is.
Using free patterns can be a bit of a crap-shoot - you really do get what you pay for sometimes, but I can recommend this pattern - easy chart to memorize and knit, and easily adaptable to any yarn weight. I have some lovely black raw silk that I may use next...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

My Christmas Gift, and Christmas in general

**be prepared. this is a WORDY post...**

So - Christmas. It was lovely. Really, lovely (not withstanding the crappy cold I was perking...).
We had a quiet Christmas Eve - just the three of us to start, then some friends dropped by, and it was great. Nice and relaxing. Christmas morning, we were up at a civilized hour (nice having a teenager in the house! There is no 6am in our life!), and we started at the tree. The husband and I don't really go for much for ourselves - really, if we need things, we go and get things. He had mentioned a few things here and there, so the boy and I picked things up as we saw them. The husband was pleasantly surprised with the bits and pieces - some great books he's putting aside for summer hammock reading, and some other stuff that really relates to his interests.
The Boy had a pretty great Christmas, if I do say so myself. I found a great website for t-shirts - - We got him 4 - all of which touch on a facet of his life:
Winter is Coming (He's on the third book of the Game of Thrones series)
Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock - Big Bang Fans will get this...
Walking Dead Survivor - one of his favourite shows
And my favourite - ENGINEERING, it's like Math, But LOUDER.
Those, along with a bunch of other stuff, and he was pretty happy. Then we brought out another gift for him - a new laptop! He had been using my old one, and it was just not cutting it. So we did the research and got him a great one that should get him through most of high school. It's got Windows 8 on it, which is a learning curve for all of us!
I got lots of little things that really meant a lot to me, then my husband surprised me with this:

A new zoom lens for my new camera! We had been discussing it, but thought we would wait until closer to the summer. He decided he didn't want to wait and got it for me early.

Then we had a bit of downtime to sit back and just enjoy the day a bit. Not too long, I had a 16 kilo turkey to get in the oven! (That's a bit over 34 pounds for those that use Imperial measurements...) I sent my husband out for a 10-12 kilo bird, and this is what he comes home with... Between that and the ham we smoked on the BBQ, we had enough for the 14 family members that descended upon us. Everyone was there by 4pm, we did gifts and such before hand, and then sat down to a great dinner (if I do say so myself). I'm still kind of shocked that there was no major drama! I mean, I know this family, there are some that thrive on the drama, and it was curiously absent. I think maturity is finally setting in... There were a couple of incidents - my SIL that spent the week before asking "what can I bring?" over and over, even though my answer was always, "nothing - we got it covered". (I know tons of people that pot luck Christmas - I am not one of them. Call me a control freak, but I like knowing what is happening in my kitchen. I do bring stuff to others when we go there, when asked.) She showed up with a giant dish of "guacamole". Now, I love guacamole, but I"m not sure what it was that she called guacamole. Whatever. And a bottle of her neighbour's homemade wine. Ohhh-kayyy. I tend not to drink homemade wine, especially when I don't know the person who made it. Plus, the bubbles forming in the red wine kind of turned me of...
My Mom gave us my favourite gift - a promise of 6 pans of her fantastic lasagne and 6 of her to-die-for cabbage rolls. Stuff we love having in our freezer for those crazy "gotta-get-dinner-on-the-table-fast!" nights. My other SIL chirped up with "Can I be your daughter next year?" It was funny. My MIL gave me another piece of her treasured collection of ceramics. She knows I collect Doultons, and every year gives me one of her own. SO special.
By doing everything before dinner, we could really sit back and relax over dessert and coffee. It also gave everyone a chance to actually talk to people that had given them gifts, and thank them properly. (14 people exchanging gifts is a bit of a free-for-all...) The knits were pretty well received. FIL adored his alpaca socks, and my MIL LOVED the Red Green sweater. I know it knit it over a year ago, but it finally occurred to me that it was so much better suited to her, and since I had never worn it - voila! It's the prefect blue tones red that suits her so well. Mom loved her wingspan and socks, and the hats were well received (well, two of the three). I been checking my niece's Twitter and Facebook, and I'm not sure she has ever taken it off - every picture of her has the hat! SHe's getting another one SOON! The Fanshawe college one was lukewarm, but that's only because he doesn't wear hats. No problem. He did ask if I could possibly make him some jammie pants - I will and will mail them to him. The Mayfield hat was also a huge hit! The three SILs that were there adored their scarves (1 knit scarf, I knit beaded cowl and a woven scarf), and the one that didn't come got nada. (Her son did get socks - they came into town to see her parents the following day, but didn't bother to get together with any siblings - but I have heard nothing from him about them - he has until the end of January to get a text, email or phone call to me - otherwise he's off the list. And a thank you from his grandmother doesn't count - the boy is 32 years old - he can do it himself.

All in all - a great day. Once everyone left, we had the place cleaned up and dishes done i about an hour. I have to say I spent the next couple of days doing NOTHING. It was a needed recovery time, as we headed up to the cottage on the 28th to spend New Years.

My son had a great time there - He and SEVEN GIRLS rang in the new year. Even he understood how the odds were in his favour...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Back to the world of the living

I'm back. Not 100%, but here and mostly functional. I wanted to show you what I've been working on, yet Blogger has other ideas. They are having major problems with the picture upload function, so I can't upload pictures. I've tried doing it in HTML format, as they suggest. but that's not working either.
So, once they fix the bug I can show you:

A Pretty Thing
A cowl
a lot of bags
my Christmas gift
A bag of stuff for a workshop I'm giving
some sewing plans

plus my Christmas story - remarkably free of drama this year!

Yeah, although I was sick, I wasn't sick enough to stop producing!

The sick thing - not a great way to start the year, I tell you. Luckily, it was a slow time at work, so I could do what needed doing from home. Turns out more than half my office was down with something. Some of us are blaming Typhoid H - a guy (not well liked) who was coughing up a storm before Christmas - we think he passed it on to all of us. And since he's a ginormous idiot, that's our story, and we're sticking to it.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


the reason there has been no posting. When I drag myself out of the abyss, I'll show you what I've been doing.
We had a fantastic Christmas - 14 people here, and everyone had a great time. Good fun, family and an all around good time. But, that, and the dinner we had to go to on the 22nd, is probably what put me over the edge.
We headed to the cottage on the 28th, came back the 1st, and I'm so glad we did! Sick or not, it's my favourite place to be. We spent great times with friends (i sadly have had none or very little actual human contact in weeks!), and the Boy had a blast. Really, a 13 year old boy, spending time and New Years Eve with 9 girls (one a recent exchange student from Melbourne, Australia). He had a GREAT time...
Lots of knitting done, lots of projects planned for the coming year.
Going back to the couch, now...