Friday, 31 January 2014

I love it when a plan comes together...

The disclaimer: 

While I knit for other people quite a bit, I rarely, if ever, knit on demand or request. (I take requests from family and really close friends, within reason).

The backstory:

We are sitting at a basketball game, and one of the other Moms asked what I did with all the knitting (it's a common question I'm sure we all get when we knit in public). I said I gave a lot of it away as gifts, otherwise I'd be drowning in knitted items!
She asked if I ever knit dog coats, and I said no - most of my friends with dogs have big, furry dogs, and don't really want or need sweaters for them.
She said she had a little ten pounder, and would I be interested in knitting a sweater for her? Nothing too girly or bright, otherwise the boys (husband and son) wouldn't want to walk the dog. She would be happy to buy the wool (and she's the type that wouldn't balk at the price of the good stuff), but I said leave it with me, I'll see.
I most cases, the answer would have been "not a chance". Doing something like this sets a dangerous precedence among the other moms and people I see. Our kids are teammates and friends, but not close friends. 

The reason why I did it:

But... in this case, her husband is also the coach of the school team. Not a teacher, but a parent who stepped up when there wasn't a coach available for the team. He got the police check (anyone who coaches gets them, I have one), and paid for it himself. He runs practices early in the morning and after school and has given these boys a great opportunity. What a great chance for me to be able to thank him for this.
(I will have to state to her when I give her to dog coat the reasons why I did it, and why I don't normally do things like this. If she asks for more, I'll quote her (and anyone else who asks) a fair price).

Because this one is a gift, I had no problem using a commercial pattern, since I wasn't selling it. So I dug around Ravelry and found a couple of patterns. Then I went stash diving. I knew what I wanted to make - I wanted basketball orange. But I wanted sport or worsted weight, and all I had was lace weight singles. But wait. I had two large skeins of 100% wool orange lace weight, in 2 different, but complimentary shades or orange. A little time with my ballwinder, and I ended up with a ball of four strand marled orange. I also dug up some partial balls of black Truffle wool/cashmere blend. Had a pattern, had the wool, knew I could find the needed buttons when the time came.

Can I say how well this turned out?(Not sure why the turtleneck button looks gold - it's solid black). Of course, not knowing the actual size of the dog, I love that this is size-able - just by moving the buttons it can be made smaller. 
Of course, there's a reason I wanted basketball orange - this is a real basketball family - both kids play, the daughter even manages the boys team,and the dad coaches. Mom spends as much time at games as I do. So with a crochet hook and a little extra black yarn, I turned the dog into:

yup. A basketball.

None of this can be surprising. I can't wait to give it to her. Of course, the kids are in exams right now, so I won't see them for a week. But I'm dying to see the reaction, and will get a picture of the dog in the sweater. I have got to believe that the boys will be fine walking a dog that looks like a basketball.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

eye searing break from grey...

Okay, I've sort of broken the grey deluge...

(and, it's funny if you read the comments from the last post - Needles suggested bright pink, but to cut it back with black... read on Needles...)

While there is grey and black, this pink more than makes up for it, and is eye-opening enough to cheer things up! Meet String Theory Colorworks colourway Dipole Moment:



I got my (very traditional) FIL going when I asked him if he liked his new socks - Obviously, these are not for him, but he's fun to play with that way!
These fantastic String Theory Colorworks socks are for my pink-loving Mom. Her birthday is in March, and these will be perfect for her. 

Nancy will be proud of me, I even matched the starting point so the stripes will match.

Have you tried this wool? If you are into great stripes, this is the stuff for you. Jen at Knit Night got me interested, and I just had to order some... 
Great prices, great delivery, I can't say enough about them... I bought 5 colourways, 3 sock, 2 sport weight (to be honest, the sportweight was kind of an error - I was thinking sockweight, but didn't check the weight of the colourways I feel in love with. Since they're for me, slightly heavier socks are fine - I usually just wear socks when I'm wearing my boots anyway)



In order from left to right,
Sportweight Green/Blue/Black
Sockweight Grey/Black/Pink
Sportweight Green/Black
Sockweight Red/Brown/Green/Gold
Sockweight Red/Green/White - my Christmas socks for next year...

So fantastic...

Monday, 27 January 2014

So grey...

I picked the absolute worst time of year to be knitting grey... 
As lovely as this Honey Cowl is, it's grey. and my Aranami Shawl? Grey and black. I know better than to knit grey in January, and especially this January - we have been Polar Vortexed to death! It's cold and snowy, and yes, I know it's Canada in winter, but even we have limits...

I swear, I'll do it. My philosophy is that if you complain about the cold, you can't complain about the heat. I do like winter, and I love snow, but come on! When the snowbanks are so big I can't see around them when I'm backing out my car, and the snowploughs can't get it all off the road, and then it freezes in ruts and stuff, I'm done.
And I know it's only January, and we have at least another couple of months... but I'm truly ready to sit in my Muskoka chair by the beach and knit and read...

In the meantime, I'm finishing this lovely Honey cowl for a friend, and my Aranami for me, and looking for something else to break up the drifts of grey...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

seeing fabric in a different way

While digging around Fabricland, I found some interesting fabrics. Not fashion or decorating fabric, but useful kitchen type fabrics.
100% linen, 20 inch wide, tea towelling.

It's so crisp, I can finger press it, and the folds hold! I bought this blue and green plaid for me, and now that I see how well it holds up, I will get more to match some friends' kitchens. 2 metres makes 4 towels, and there's nothing like 100% linen for drying glassware.


Its nice to know that I can get a ridiculously early start on stashing gifts away!

But not all people like colour in their home linens. My best friend is an all-white kind of girl. White towels in the bath, white sheets, white kitchen accessories. 
And right next to the linen was this great 100% cotton waffle weave. Perfect for white kitchen towels!

Its been prewashed but not ironed here. And while she loves white linens, I couldn't let that be. Her cottage (where I spent much of my childhood summers) has been in her family for years, and her Mom named it The Mare's Nest decades ago. The accent colour in the cottage has always been red, so I used my sewing machine's embroidery feature to add the name of the cottage.

It's a small touch, but one she will appreciate.

Next week - knitting. I promise.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

More fabrics

I mentioned that Christmas fabrics go on sale in January. I love this, as I like making napkins for my Christmas table. Since we have a large-ish family, I get enough to make quite a few napkins. (my tablecloths are standard green or red cotton based brocades).
Since I'm me, and I don't follow convention very easily, I tend to shun the traditional prints, and go for the fun.
Meet next year's napkins:

I wish I had a better segue to this next fabric, but going from Christmas to a retirement dinner doesn't really follow any kind of path, so I'm just going to jump right in.
One of my SILs is retiring after 30 years as a Toronto Police Officer. She has risen through the ranks and is retiring as an inspector, attached to the Deputy Chief's office. There's a big dinner for her next month, and the family is invited. To be honest, there are things I'd rather be doing on a Wednesday night (going to Knit Night, for example!!), but she's family, so we have to suck it up. It's also cocktail attire required, so I decided to make a new skirt for the occasion. Not that I have to, I have tons of cocktail skirts and dresses that I rarely wear, but what the hell, Chinese brocades were on sale, and skirts take so little metreage, so I splurged.

Isn't is pretty? With a black silk tank and silk sweater, I will be set, even if I'd rather be wearing sweats, and sipping tea with my knitting buddies...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

More pajama fabrics!

My local fabric store, Fabricland, like most stores has a great sale in January. Certainly, they clear a lot of the Christmas fabrics, but a lot of other things go on sale as well, especially cotton flannel.
And we all know how much I love me some cotton flannel!
How do you turn down $2.50 per metre? That's just over $5 for a pair of pajama pants!

Aliens:

Red Leopard: (an explanation here - I don't wear leopard. Ever. I am not an animal print girl. Never have been. These are for a joke for the Mom/Grandma of our cottage neighbours. I'm expecting a great deal of belly laughing for these)... and they are actually already made up.

Beer Flannel! Okay, this was not on sale. I paid full price for this fabric, and yes, I know I have the same print in plain cotton, but BEER FLANNEL!! It's perfect.

Monday, 20 January 2014

new socks in progress

I always have at least a couple of socks in progress - in my purse - available for those found moments.

I'm on the second Witches Britches (the green, cream and black striped), but I started another one as well.

Manos Del Uruguay Alegria in the evocatively named colour way of A7105. I do love the feel of Manos sock yarn, but to be honest, I wish the colours translated better from skein to actual sock. Remember the neon socks I made? How the neon-ness disappeared one they were knit up? Same thing here. I wish the oranges and yellows had longer runs to show up more. This is a case where some pooling would have been welcome. THey're beautiful and will make me or someone else very happy, but I was just looking for MORE, ou know?


This shows how much sock gets knitted through 2 basketball games and one of my nephew's hockey games. I truly don't believe people when they say they have no time to knit. I think you can always find time... of course, you have to find the time for basketball and hockey games...

Friday, 17 January 2014

Solved!

Pretty sure Blogger still has a problem, but I just used a different browser and voila! I can add pictures!

As noted in a previous post, I do my nails with nail art stickers. 

Here's the latest, although this is a slightly older picture, so by the time you see these, they are probably different.

I just noticed how obvious my badly set broken middle finger is here... There's a definite tilt to the left - a reminder of a high school injury that I played through. Just some tape and a splint at times, until a couple of years later when an x-ray for a different finger break showed that I did break the middle one years before. I remember my doctor just shaking his head at me...

Next week will start the parade of pictures!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Blogger problems

Blogger as in the website, not blogger as in me... (although I do have my problems...)
I can't add pictures to posts. I've got a few other things to try, and it seems Blogger is aware of the issue, but that doesn't help me right now.
I can post what I've been doing, but without pictures, that's no fun.
I've bought great fabrics, made cool kitchen things, am knitting cool things, and am playing with my nails again.
Nothing that would make sense without pictures...


Hope to be back soon in Technicolour...

Monday, 13 January 2014

January equals lack of focus...

I don't know about anyone else, but I can't focus on anything right now. All last month, my knitting was focussed and directed towards gifts and making things with a purpose - to be given to someone.
Now that I have time to knit or create what I want, I want to do it ALL! Any pattern that catches my eye, I buy it or print it and start looking for the yarn!
The Maple Leaf shawl! The slippers! (thanks, Steph for the reminder...) New socks!
Then there's the sewing. Fabricland always has a great sale this time of year. So I picked up fabric for next years Christmas napkins, as well as other stuff (more flannels for pajamas, and some great household type fabric - more on that later...)
Not to mention new yarns - Thanks to Jenn, I've become enamoured of String Theory Colorworks and their self striping sock yarns - order has been placed, because we all know I need more sock yarn...
Fickle doesn't even begin to describe me right now. I keep forcing myself to get back to my Aranami shawl - it's gorgeous and luxurious and I want it, but I also want everything else!
Can someone please get to work on warping the Time-Space continuum? I need more hours in the day...


And since there has been interest in my nails lately - I hope you all realize that I use Nail Art Stickers. I am not painstakingly drawing all these designs on my nails, and waiting for them to dry. (Do you know how much knitting time that painting and drying would take?)
The stickers are great and last about a week. I do still paint my nails, but I tend to alternate between a plain painted and a nail art sticker.
This week is a sticker week:
which I would show if Blogger wasn't being a pain and not letting me add pictures... Let me work on this...



Friday, 10 January 2014

Holiday odds and ends...

Some bits and pieces from the holidays:

For our family Christmas dinner, one of the things I was to bring was the fruit for dessert. Rather than bringing JUST fruit, I decided on Grinch Kebobs.

Yup, I can't just do something simple, it seems...
(skewer a green grape, a banana slice, a strawberry and a mini marshmallow)

One of my favourite gifts from my husband - a Kobo! I read as much as I knit, and this will be so easy to cart around instead of numerous books. Our library system is compatible with it...

Speaking of gifts - all the knitted gits this year were very well received. (I was smart and only knitted for people I knew would appreciate). The beer mitts were a huge hit with my brother's kids, and with my bro and SIL - now I need to make them a couple! The hats, socks, scarves and ornaments were extremely popular, especially the ornaments! The purple hats garnered me a huge hug from my niece, and the Doctor Who hat? Well, lets just say my stock rose exponentially with my nephew! Not only for making the hat (which never left his head), but just for knowing enough about Doctor Who to be able to talk about it with him. It was very gratifying. After I get my fill of knitting for myself, I have a few hats and ornaments to make for others.

We spent New Years at the cottage - headed up after Christmas and spent almost a week enjoying it.
The cottage neighbours are among my favourite people to knit for - the infinity scarves were a big hit, and never seemed to leave the girls' necks, the hate went on his head immediately, and the Suncrest scarf - matched her coat perfectly. But the best was the name ornaments! THey opened these while his brother and family and his parents were there, and there was some serious envy over those. So much so that she has asked me to make ornaments for the rest of the family, and she will pay me. Done deal - I love this family, so it will be easy to do.
It's hard to hate this view:

Although, what a difference a day makes...

And for New Years, New Nails!


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Even more luxury

I give a lot of knitted Christmas gifts. A. Lot. So January is really all about knitting for me.
And as far as I'm concerned, I deserve the good stuff. Hence the Alpaca Dipped Infinity, and this:

Aranami.

But not in Brooklyn Tweed Loft. Nope - I went ultra luxurious, and bought Illimani Yarns. A cream, 3 greys and a black. Three of them are Illimani Royal I - a 100% alpaca, and the other two are Illimani Silky Baby Llama  - 70% baby llama / 30% mulberry silk. Seriously decadent.
The Illimani is bigger than the fingering weight the original is made from, so I upped the needle size to a 3.5mm. It's making a nice fabric, and, while I look like a dork in shawls, I think this will work well as a scarf, as it's not very deep.

It's a great construction - never more than 36 stitches on the needles, and it builds upon itself. One warning - if you don't like sewing in ends, you won't like this. But the end result will be worth it.

 

 
 
 
 I'm on the second last colour - the darkest grey, and then I have the black left to do. Of course, In my brilliant wisdom, I didn't think about the fact I would be using more yarn since I am using bigger needles, so I may not have enough black. I won't really know until I get further in, but at least I know where I bought it, and can hopefully get more.

Again, this is a pattern I would make again - using different colours, or even a single variegated yarn - the variations would show up in the waves. Plus, changing the stitch counts could give it another look altogether. I have some variegated green lace weight that may work well...

Monday, 6 January 2014

What I knitted in the dark...

While the power was out, I had two option for knitting - in the darkness, and by candle and flash light, I knit socks - easy rounds of stockinette, and I can always use additions to the big bag o' socks.
No pictures, as they aren't finished, and tubes of unfinished stockinette are just boring.

During the day, when there was light, I worked on and finished by 100% Alpaca Dipped Infinity Scarf.


Lovely bit of knitting, if I do say so myself. The colour is truer in the bottom picture around my neck. Figure that out - the upper picture is taken in natural sunlight, the lower one in a bathroom mirror.

This is a great pattern, and one I would probably knit again. The 100% is incredibly luxurious, and beyond soft. However... it's also quite heavy and has stretched out quite a bit. I can actually wrap it three times around my neck now! I need to block it again, I think. I love the colour changes (accomplished by knitting two strands together and changing them out at different times). I can see this in rainbow colours and any other ombre or colour combo - it's a keeper pattern, Just maybe not in 100% alpaca again.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Hi! Miss me?

I didn't really mean to go offline for so long, but between Christmas, an ice storm, family, the cottage and just basic tiredness, I did.
I could have blogged about knitting and what I was doing, but instead I decided to knit and just do what I was doing.
So forgive me while I get caught up...

Ice Storm:
It was a doozy. We were without power for 30 hours, and it was COLD. But, compared to some, we got off easy. A day and a bit without power beats the week or so some people had to deal with.

Here's some shots from around our place:
 
fence cap - it's actually a solar light - not really able to charge right now...
 
hedge and maple tree on our boulevard - it crackled for days afterwards.
 
Christmas decorations - a little more sparkly with the addition of a half inch coating of ice!
 
close up of our cedar hedges
 
more cedar
 
 cedar up high

our birch tree - happily, she made it through with only the loss of a few small branches - better than our neighbours across the street who lost three of a five tree clump.
 
more cedar, encrusted with ice
 
full shot of our birch
 
my lilac - encrusted
 
close up of the lilac
 
We spent the days following the storm constantly checking our trees and bushes - the ice was crackling not stop. Some of our cedars were bent almost double, but have recovered - they are amazingly flexible.

Our street was blocked for a while - tree limbs fell across the street itself, so we spent part of the days after helping the neighbours clean up yards and boulevards - the Town was overwhelmed, but did a great job in clearing the streets - it will take weeks before all the downed limbs are cleared away.

I've got lots more to show - stay tuned!