Friday, December 30, 2011

It's a Quilt!

For those of you who have been following along, it is time to unveil the super-secret Christmas sewing project. It is a quilt!

My son had been asking for a new quilt and needed one since his was in a state of disrepair, so I got it into my head that I should make him one for Christmas. The beauty of having a well behaved son is that I know where he is most of the time, and he isn’t out being a hooligan around the neighbourhood. The negative of having a well behaved son is that he is almost always at home and rarely goes out (except when he goes swimming or to the gym, which is amusing for those that know my son.) In order to pull off making a quilt as a surprise I was going to have to work fast and efficiently. (For the record, I love to use the word “hooligan”. It amuses me.)

I decided the most efficient pattern would be a basic fence rail block which can be made quickly in an assembly line style. The cutting was done at Steph’s and the sewing was done during some vacation days, while Jacob was at school.

I love the fabrics in the top. I especially like the fabric with the turquoise. It reminds me of rocks and the turquoise has me imagining ocean rocks.

The border fabric has a fun graffiti print that makes the quilt more suited for a teenager.

The back is a hideous flannel print that suits my son perfectly. If you have seen my son in the past couple of years he was likely wearing headphones, so when we saw this fabric we couldn’t resist.

Special thanks go out to Steph and Meredith who were gracious hosts to me while I finished the quilt binding in their homes. I love to bind a quilt by hand which is a peaceful but time consuming task. Working on the binding in the company of good friends who offer wine while I sew is a good thing – so good that I may need to start another quilt, just so I can go work on it in their homes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Berry Patch Sock

The secret knitting project for Christmas was a pair of socks for a friend. Unfortunately I did not get them finished in time for our Christmas Eve gift exchange so I had to give her a gift of a single sock, with a promise to finish the second sock soon. I finished the second sock on Monday and it is now ready to join its other half.

The sock was made from KnitPicks Stroll Hand Painted yarn, in the Berry Patch colour. This is a great yarn, very soft yet still durable enough for socks. The colours are gorgeous and I love the Berry Patch colour, but sadly it is a discontinued shade that is no longer available.

The pattern for the socks is one I made up with a simple 4x2 rib.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peppermint Cookies

Today was yet another wonderful day off. I think Christmas should always fall on a Sunday so we get the Monday and Tuesday off. It has been such a relaxing Christmas given the catch up time before returning to work.

After going out for some shopping and lunch we returned home just in time to miss the first snowfall of the year. This is the first time this season that we have seen the snow stick to the ground. Given the forecast, I’m sure it will be gone in no time which is fine with me. I don’t mind the cold, but I could do without slogging through snow and slush filled sidewalks.

I continued my Christmas baking today by making Peppermint Cookies. Once again the recipe comes from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog site. I discovered this recipe last year and was very pleased to see that they had managed to make an old favourite using every day ingredients instead of the recipe I grew up with which uses scary ingredients like baking ammonia. No ammonia in this recipe, just plain old-fashioned baking soda and some peppermint extract.

Here they are just out of the oven, cooling off before being decorated.

And here they are all prettied up with icing and sprinkles.

Now I’m off to start my next knitting project while I get caught up on some Young and the Restless.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Time for Some Christmas Baking

Christmas has now come and gone, and while the days leading up to Christmas were busy, the past few days have been wonderfully relaxing. Our Christmas celebrations began on Friday night when we, along with some friends, were treated to a wonderful dinner at our favourite neighbourhood pub. It was a great way to get in the festive mood. On Saturday we finished up our Christmas shopping, stocked the fridge and then settled in at home, hosting some family and friends. We wound down Christmas Eve by watching one of my favourite movies – Christmas Vacation. On Christmas day we had a relaxing morning (although I was amazed that the teenager was able to get up as early as he did), followed by a yummy turkey dinner and a trip to the movies. We saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While very intense in places, it was a very good movie.

In honour of Boxing Day we had lunch at our favourite neighbourhood pub (the Rose and Crown, for those who are wondering) and then it was time to shop. The boys returned home to do their shopping online and I wandered the streets to see what stores would capture my interest. I stocked up on wrapping paper for next year, bought some dog treats and a new bath mat. While none of my purchases were very exciting I was pleased with the bargains I hunted. And then… I made one last stop into The Body Shop, where all my will power went out the window and I bought enough bath oil, body scrub and lotion to keep me smelling good for all of 2012.

Finally, at 8 pm on Boxing Day, I found time to do some Christmas baking. You may recall back on October 14 I mentioned that at the beginning of 2011 I told myself that I wouldn’t make Christmas gifts this year, in an attempt to avoid the usual pre-Christmas crafting frenzy. As you know, I didn’t live up to that plan. The secret sewing project (which I will blog about on another day) was a big pile of pressure, the secret knitting project (socks for a friend) didn’t quite get finished, and the wreath making became all-consuming of my spare time (and blog posts). So the days leading up to Christmas were filled with too much to do, and Christmas baking didn’t make it anywhere near the top of the list.

Since I love Christmas baking, I don’t care that Christmas is past (and all my decorations have come down); I’m going to get on with my Christmas baking anyway. I just made these…

They are Black Bottom Cheesecakes. I found the recipe on one of my favourite blog sites – Mennonite Girls Can Cook. As a girl who was raised Mennonite, I feel I live up to the blog title and I can cook (I don’t always want to, but I can!). While Mennonites may be capable of cooking, most absolutely excel at baking. I check this blog site regularly and am always captivated by the cookies, cakes and other desserts.

In other news, Cici did very well this Christmas and has many new toys to play with and sleep with.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just Discovered Connecting Threads!

Such an exciting day today! First off it was the last day of work before Christmas – always feels like such fun to leave work just before Christmas. Next up was a great dinner out with some friends and now I just discovered a great new website – ConnectingThreads.

This could be a challenge for me. Connecting Threads is a sister site to KnitPicks, which as you know by now is my favourite online yarn source. KnitPicks offers great yarns in beautiful colours at affordable prices. Connecting Threads describes themselves as being passionate about affordable quilting – sounds good to me!

At first glance, I’m loving the Walk in the Woods sampler

And the Batik Paradise collection that the sampler is based on.

Just Desserts looks like a fun collection and so does Peppermint Forest.

I love how they show all the coordinating fabrics together. Maybe someday I will design a new quilt!

Back to the make before Christmas list...

·         Secret knitting project keeps getting squeezed out by other activities (such as dinner at the Rose and Crown, followed by candy and blogging)

·         Only 1.5 wreaths to go (because just today I added another wreath to the list)

·         Bake cookies (I bought the ingredients for two recipes, I’m just not sure when I will have time to bake)

However the shopping and wrapping are done!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Only 4 Days To Go!

I love this time of year but I can’t believe how fast the time is flying by right now. How is it possible that Christmas is just four days away, and only 3 days if you are counting to Christmas Eve (which I am!)?

Christmas List progress continues, the shopping is going well but the bank account may be suffering. Unlike my usual daily attention to my finances, I have chosen to not look at my bank account in the past couple of weeks.

To make before Christmas list:

· Secret knitting project (just barely begun have knit 4.5”  8”  which is a good start about one third half done, but there is much more to go  this one is starting to look like it might be a bit of an IOU)
· More wreaths (6.5  5.5 3.5 2.5 more, or scale back because  we keep increasing the recipient list)
· Bake cookies (3  2 recipes are on my consideration list, though looking less and less likely every day – still have high hopes for baking)

I leave you with photos of some of my latest wreaths…

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Making progress on the Christmas To Do List

The time leading up to Christmas continues to fly by. Can’t believe it is only 7 more sleeps.

The news of the day is that I’ve completed the secret sewing project – Yay! I still can’t believe I was able to get it all done, on the sly, before Christmas.

I was going to post more wreath pictures today, but we will save that for tomorrow when I have more time to prepare the pictures.

To make before Christmas list:

· Finish secret sewing project (Done! Thanks to the help of Steph and Meredith, both of whom hosted me in their homes and gave me wine to keep me going on the project)

· Secret knitting project (just barely begun have knit 4.5”  8” which is a good start about one third half done, but there is much more to go)

· More wreaths (6.5  5.5 3.5 more, or scale back because  we keep increasing the recipient list)

· Bake cookies (3  2 recipes are on my consideration list, though looking less and less likely every day)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Long week with a cold

I haven't posted much this week, because I have a cold that has turned me into a whiny suck that doesn’t want to do anything (other than knit in front of the TV.)

I haven't finished much because I’m trying to work on all projects at the same time. In order to keep up with blogging I offer you the following (yet another) wreath picture.

Why is it that my camera (and photography skills) that are not capable of capturing the beauty of yarn, can so fully capture every flaw in the finish of my table?

In TV news... Survivor Finale week begins tonight and all participating residents of the Americana are still in contention. Yeah! 

To make before Christmas list:

· Finish secret sewing project (still about 2 hours of work to go, but hoping to finish up on Saturday, while drinking wine and cheese with a friend)

· Secret knitting project (just barely begun have knit 4.5”  8” which is a good start about one third done, but there is much more to go)

· More wreaths (6.5  5.5 4.5 more, or scale back the recipient list)

· Bake cookies (3 recipes are on my consideration list, though looking less and less likely every day)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Progress is Slowing

There isn’t much to report the past few days. Life is getting in the way of any real progress on the things I would like to be making.

It has been a good weekend, but I am sick with a cold so any free time has been spent falling asleep. We did have a good day yesterday with some friends, so I made some dip and margaritas that I was tempted to photograph, but the lazy in me took over and I decided against that idea.

While I haven’t made much this week, we are almost done our Christmas shopping and have begun turning our thoughts to what we will be eating on Christmas day, so all is right with the world.

To make before Christmas list:
· Finish secret sewing project (still about 2 hours of work to go)
· Secret knitting project (just barely begun have knit 4.5” which is a good start, but there is much more to go)
· More wreaths (6.5  5.5 more, or scale back the recipient list)
· Bake cookies (3 recipes are on my consideration list, though looking less likely every day)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

KnitPicks Order Arrived!

Few words are required for this blog post, for today my KnitPicks order arrived. As usual, my apartment lighting does not do the yarn justice and the colours in this photo do not look as gorgeous as the yarn in real life.

I am in love with the new yarn and cursing the last minute Christmas rush that is standing between me and my new yarn – enough yarn for five pairs of socks and four pairs of mittens.

To make before Christmas list:
  • Finish secret sewing project (about 2 hours of work to go)
  • Secret knitting project (just barely begun)
  • More wreaths (6.5 more, or scale back the recipient list)
  • Bake cookies (3 recipes are on my consideration list)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More Wreaths and More Candy!

I’m starting to realize that Christmas is coming very quickly. Before it arrives I would like to complete about 10 more wreaths, the secret sewing project, another secret knitting project (that I haven’t started yet!), and it would be nice to complete something more interesting than wreaths to post on this blog.

That said, here are a few more wreaths to show off.

I had intended to bake a few batches of Christmas cookies, but that may not happen this year. If baking does happen, I will be sure to brag about it here.

We will survive without the extra cookies, since my cross-border shopping friend returned to the States this weekend and this time she brought me this!

 I’m loving all of these items and we have had to hide the bag so we don’t eat it all at once. It will be a challenge not to eat all of this before the end of the week.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sea Shell Ornaments - Memories of Fort Myers

I’ve decided I’m bored with the “Wreath of the Day” program. It is time to post about something else and so I turn to sea shells.

We put up our Christmas decorations yesterday which is always involves pulling out decorations that are new but forgotten about. I was pleasantly surprised when I remembered it would be the first year to put up some sea shell decorations I had made last February.

In February I had the very good fortune to spend a week in Fort Myers, Florida with my friend Cathy and her daughter and sister. We spent a week shopping, relaxing and going to the beach. It had been a long time since I was at the ocean and I loved every minute of it.

Much time was spent wading in the ocean.

While wading we found a few lovely shells to keep.

Soon we had another bigger pile of shells to keep.

And by the end of our first day at the ocean we had more piles of shells to keep.

Some shells, like Mr. Crab, were picked up, admired and enjoyed, but not kept.

On our first ocean trip we went to Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel Island. On other trips to the ocean we went to Fort Myers Beach. By the end of the week, we were developing a permanent stoop from the constant peering into the water to look for more shells.

Once home I had to figure out what to do with the shells. I could put them in a dish in the bathroom like many women do, but I don’t have a big bathroom so I needed a different approach. So, I got out the glue gun and started making a couple of Christmas ornaments. I made two ornaments with layers and layers of shells. In then end there were more layers than intended because we kept dropping the ornaments and somehow when you drop shells onto ceramic tile they tend to break. Every time we dropped an ornament we needed another layer of shells to cover up the broken ones.

Ornament 1


Ornament 2

It was nice to put the ornaments on the long, straight tree yesterday and now I can look at them and remember a very nice week on the sunny beaches in Florida, with some great friends.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wreath of the Day - December 3

Today’s wreath was an attempt to squeeze one more wreath out of the spool of wire. Each wreath takes about 5 metres of wire and I didn’t have quite that much left on the spool. The result is a wreath that looks a bit sparser than some of the others. Sometimes I look at it and love it and then other times I think it needs more beads.


Today we are putting up our Christmas decorations. I forced the boys to each pick out a wreath so we will be using at least three of the wreaths on our own long, straight tree. We’ve spent the morning cleaning and now I am off to do some shopping and then when I return we will drink egg nog and decorate.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wreath of the Day - December 2

I’m back with today’s wreath. There was no wreath yesterday because I went bowling with my coworkers last night. Although I haven’t bowled in years it turns out I’m pretty good at it. It was a good night, but I missed my couch and when I got home I stayed up way to late working on another wreath.

Back to the wreath of the day…. Today’s wreath is gorgeous in real life, but didn’t photograph well. It is a clear bead wreath with just a touch of silver. It turned out beautiful. It may be one that I keep for myself.

It has been a long week and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend relaxing at home – and putting up Christmas decorations!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wreath of the Day - November 30

Today’s creation is made from some dark iridescent beads, complimented by a mix of purple and greenish beads, strung on some copper coloured wire. And there is a dash of copper-coloured star shaped sequins for some added shine.

In other projects… I’m loving the start of my newest mittens. They are looking like something I may have to keep for myself.

One of the highlights of my day was when a friend presented me with this!

She just returned from some cross border Black Friday shopping and brought me back these wonderful Cherry Kisses. Can’t wait to tear the bag open, but I know once opened they will be gone in about five minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wreath of the Day - November 29

Today’s selection for wreath of the day is a multi-coloured bead with turquoise wire creation.

My co-worker must have loved the baby sweater because she used the word awesome no fewer than 8 times in an email chain thanking me for it, and she sent me this picture, taken after she brought it home last night.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wreath of the Day - November 28

As mentioned yesterday, I’ve got a wreath making problem – I just can’t stop making them. I’m strangely satisfied with stringing beads and twisting them into wreaths.

Here is one of the latest creations, a mix of black and silver beads on silver wire.

In other news… it is Cyber Monday at Knit Picks! I couldn’t resist and settled in at the computer and picked out enough yarn for several more pairs of socks and mittens. Can’t wait for the wonderful box to arrive – Merry Christmas to Me!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baby Sweater

I don’t knit many adult sweaters, since I’m not a huge fan of the sewing things together stage, but I do like making baby sweaters. There is something oh so satisfying about how fast they knit up, how (usually) happy the mom-to-be is to receive them, and most importantly, it is nice to know that the person who wears them looks cute, no matter what you knit.

I’m always happy when a co-worker is pregnant because it is a great excuse to knit up a baby sweater. So, just after I joined my latest company I was thrilled when one of my teammates announced she was pregnant. Yay, I get to knit a baby sweater.

Off I went to Mary Maxim, and bought my favourite baby sweater yarn – Sirdar Snuggly DK. I love this yarn. It is soft and comes in some great colours. They have a beautiful soft beige with flecks of pink and yellow that is my favourite, but this time I chose one with shades of beige and browns. Since I don’t know if this will be a boy or a girl baby, the Aran tones will look good no matter what.

I love how this sweater turned out and like the nice deep collar on the back.

I spent my afternoon continuing to work on the secret Christmas project. Only a few hours to go and I will be done.

For tonight’s TV viewing accompaniment, I might get to work on some mittens, but most likely I will be distracted by some shiny beads. I’ve definitely got a wreath making problem. I will show you photo evidence of the abundance of wreaths later in the week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pool Party Socks

Yesterday night I finished the pair of socks I’ve been making out of KnitPicks Chroma yarn in the Pool Party colour. It is a great blend of shades of blue and green.

The pattern is Evelyn Clark’sRailroad Rib Socks. A great pattern that Meredith found.

These socks made a quick pass through the For Sale pile and are being shipped off to their new home soon.

Off to start my next project – a pair of mittens, but you will have to wait to see what colours I’ll be using (in other words, I still haven’t made up my mind) J

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What to make next?

The moratorium on beading and other projects continues until I finish the socks that I am currently working on. The good news is that I could possibly finish the socks tonight, which means I am well within the planning window for my next project.

The thing that comes to mind first is to knit another pair of mittens. The challenge is that I have a bunch of KnitPicks Palette yarn waiting for me, but none of the colours are screaming “knit me”. I do have some gorgeous sock yarn that does beg to be held and knit up, but I don’t want to jump into another pair of socks right now. I tried to take a picture of the sock yarn but the camera refused to capture the true beauty of the colours, so we need to wait for a sunny day to photograph the yarn in natural light.

So, what yarn should I use to make my next pair of mittens?

I’ve got plenty of colours to choose from…

This ball of light blue Pool coloured Palette keeps getting passed over. I loved the colour when I bought it, but when it arrived in the mail I didn’t like it next to any other colours. I could pair it with some white yarn…

Or add in a splash of navy…

Or I could use these Wallaby and Mai Tai Heather colours, mixed with some white or cream…

(apologies for the blurry photo, but my camera battery isn't cooperating tonight)

I love the Pennyroyal colour – not quite light purple, not quite grey. Although I like this more than Pool, I’m not sure what to pair it with. I could go with some Navy and Cosmpolitan…

I tried putting the Pool and Pennyroyal together and it didn’t do anything to make me want to knit them next.

I also have some leftover Chroma in the brown and cream colours. While not inspiring on the table, I know mittens made with these colours will be very nice.

And then there is the distraction of all the beads that my sister sent me in the mail…

I’m still fascinated by making beaded wreath ornaments, so these specific beads have caught my attention right now.

So, plenty of ideas to choose from. I’m leaning towards making mittens in the Wallaby and Mai Tai Heather colours, or the Pennyroyal with the Navy and Cosmopolitan. (And I may get distracted by the shiny beads.)