Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cici’s Fall Fashion Preview – Part 2

I finished Cici’s second new coat today. This is her ridiculously impractical fake fur coat, suitable only for walks around the neighbourhood. She will however look quite stylish (if fake floral fur could ever be in style).

As usual, Cici was not the most willing model. While she is quite capable of maintaining a sit and stay pose, she has no interest in looking at the camera. Here are a couple of other pictures from our photo shoot.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Southwest Socks

Sold - Mesa Socks
As I was carefully picking out the yarn for the Southwest Mittens I mentioned recently, I was less careful in selecting the quantity. When my lovely box of yarn arrived in the mail there was twice as much yarn as I had expected. So, after having just knit four mittens with the same yarn, I needed to come up with another way to use the lovely Mesa coloured yarn.

The result was a pair of socks where the full spectrum of the yarn was plain to see. I like these socks, but a girl can only wear so many pairs of hand knit socks, so they are being added to the for sale pile.

In other news, Cici is back to her normal self. She still isn’t allowed to play at full force (since playing usually means finding a good stick to use in a tug-of-war) but anyone that looks at her would never know she was injured. She also loves the fact that the boring hard kibble has been replaced with a lovely canned food diet. (Going back to kibble next week may result in some tears.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cici’s Fall Fashion Preview – Part 1

The first of Cici’s new coats was completed on the weekend.  This one is her extra warm play coat, made for stylish romps through the parks with friends. Lined with a quilted lining and a layer of Thinsulate she is sure to be warm on even the coldest winter day.

Cici is thrilled to have a new coat. Sorry for the scary eyes in the picture but she wasn’t in a modelling mood – likely because the coat was too warm, and because her beagle was trying to hog the spotlight.

In other news, it was a sad day for Miss Cici today.  In her cute but clumsy way, she managed to bash into a tree and knock a couple of her teeth out. She spent the afternoon at the vets where she went under general anesthetic so they could fix her up. Now she is at home resting, slightly stoned, and slightly whiney. The poor thing cried loud and long when I put her chew toys in the closet. I'm sure she will be fine in a few days, but she is a mighty sad pup right now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Southwest Desert Inspired Mittens

Earlier in the year I bought some Knit Picks Chroma Yarn in the Mesa colour. This is a beautiful shade that Knit Picks describes as “inspired by the scenic backdrop of the Painted Desert, Mesa illustrates this landscape with a combination of soft red and coral which moves into a sandy taupe. Also present are stripes of turquoise and sky blue that are highlighted with small sections of warm beige.”


I love the colours in the yarn but when I knit up a pair of mittens I found one mitten was predominantly red while the other had barely any red at all. The obsessive compulsive side of me was a bit rattled by this unevenness (and lack of matchy, matchy), so I felt compelled to knit another pair with the exact same pattern and see how the colours played out.

Sold - Mesa Mittens

In the end I love all four of the mittens and cannot decide which two I like the best.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hot Off the Press – New Mittens

I have just finished my latest pair of mittens. These wonderful berry coloured snowflake mittens were knit with Chroma yarn from Knit Picks, in the “U-Pick” and “Natural” colours. This is a wonderfully soft yarn that is made of gorgeous colour blocks. I love how the U-pick colour transitions from mauve to red to purple.

Although I feel like I should have these mittens in my life for a while longer, because I really like them, I’ve decided to add them to the for sale pile.

SOLD – Berry coloured, snowflake mittens

The pattern is my own creation, inspired by some of the graphs from an intimidating book, Latvian Mittens. Meredith introduced me to this book and as we sat and oohed and ahhed over her copy, I knew I had to get my own. There are many beautiful photos and graphs that can be turned into amazing mittens, but this is not a book for the faint of heart. The instructions and graphs are near impossible to understand and I have spent many hours converting the graphs into my own patterns so that I don’t have to follow the book too closely.

When I went to grab the link for the Chroma yarn, I noticed Knit Picks has a new yarn, Andes Del Campo. I love the colours, especially the Cilantro and Vineyard Heathers. I would love to knit up a nice cabled sweater in one of these colours.

Time to come up with what to make next - I think I will do something with Chroma yarn in the “Pool Party” colour.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ferntastic Beading

One of the places my family loves is Fern Resort in Orillia, Ontario. For one week, each summer, we
escape to this beautiful place where we can put all our cares behind. The only way to really describe it in one sentence is to say that it is exactly the same as Dirty Dancing.

What I love best about Fern is that we can do whatever we want. If we want to sit by the pool and read, no one bothers us. If we want to get out and be active, we can walk through the woods, go swimming, kayak around the lake, or find dozens of other activities. And if we want to participate in a group activity, there are plenty of those to try as well. Mostly at Fern we sit by the pool and relax the day away, but this year we took part in a couple of fun group activities. One was cocktail mixing – good fun sitting around the bar, getting a quick lesson, and then drinking some generous samples (what’s not to love). The other group activity I went to was jewellery making class.

The jewellery class at Fern is great – or Ferntastic as those at Fern resort would say. (Sadly, people at Fern will find endless ways to make up positive words and sayings using the word Fern – Ferntastic, Fernerrific, Feel the Fern, etc.) Back to jewellery class… A wonderful woman named Nancy comes to Fern for a couple of hours in the afternoon, sets up some tables with beading tools and lets us come in and help ourselves to her beads and make some jewellery. She sits around, keeps us chatting about whatever, and then she helps put clasps on or whatever else people need to create a few projects. She is a super nice woman and as long as the others in the class don’t get their elbows up around the beading table, it is a very enjoyable experience.

I’ve done the class on two different trips to Fern and it has been a highlight both times. In 2009 I particularly enjoyed watching one 18 year-old guy, who thought he was quite something, create a necklace, bracelet and earrings set for “the one back home”. Naturally each of his pieces was loaded up with pink, plastic hearts. His creations were great – made with so much love (and so entertaining for the rest of us in the class.) He wasn’t at Fern this year as he had to stay home and work. We all missed him.

Here is one of my creations from 2009. I also made a great bracelet, but it sadly fell apart one night and I didn’t think to save it from its demise.

This year’s jewellery class wasn’t as entertaining but it was still typically Fern fun. For most of us it was relaxing, except for one girl who was trying to juggle beading and water-skiing at the same time. Her father kept coming in counting down the minutes to her water-ski time and Nancy was kind enough to extend the class time so she could come back and finish her jewellery after a quick ski around the lake. Gotta love a place where you can transition from water-skiing to jewellery making in a matter of minutes.

Here are my creations from this year’s class.

I knew writing a blog would be a learning experience, but I didn’t realize how quickly I would learn that I am not a great photographer. I tried to get a good picture of the necklaces, but I just couldn’t do it. To prove that I do have some photography skills, here are a couple of other pictures from Fern.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mittens For Sale

Sold – Navy, Salsa and Cream coloured hand- knit mittens
As mentioned in my first post, in the months leading up to Christmas I often dream up glorious plans for hand-made gifts for anyone I’ve ever met. Each year I put myself under extreme pressure to live up to my unrealistic expectations. At the beginning of 2011, I decided this year would be different.

This year I decided to just knit. It didn't matter what I knit and didn't matter for whom. The only thing that mattered was that I liked the yarn and the knitting made me happy. Now I find myself with a stash of surplus mittens and socks without a home. So I bring to you, my first item for sale.

The mittens were made from Knit Picks’ Palette Yarn (in the running for my all-time favourite yarn). The pattern comes from a great book - Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch. This is the book that I used to learn how to make mittens. It is still a continuous source of inspiration.

Over the years many friends have suggested I sell my knitting, but anyone who knits knows that it would not be possible to charge an amount that in any way acknowledges the many hours that go into a hand-knit item. I also think going into the business of selling my knitting for profit would take all the fun out of my favourite pastime. The purpose of this blog is not to sell things for profit, but I do think that some of you might be interested in acquiring a pair of mittens or socks, and I would love to make a few dollars to feed my yarn habit.

For the record, I’ve come close to keeping my New Year’s resolution of no hand-made Christmas gifts in 2011 but recently I caved and came up with something to make, for someone, that will take me so many hours that I will no doubt be totally stressed out as December nears. On the off chance this person reads my blog I will not comment further, but stay tuned for pictures of the (hopefully) completed item after Christmas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dabbling with Beading

I have a couple of friends that do amazing things with beads. For years I have been fascinated at Meredith’s talents with beads, and most recently Stephanie has been a regular source of inspiration and temptation as I accompany her on bead buying missions. There are so many stores that have so many pretty beads for purchase. I love going bead shopping with Steph as it allows me to pretend I’m buying beads too. So far, I’ve been able to resist diving head first into buying many, many beads.

To maximize the benefits of beading and knitting, Steph and I traded wares recently. I made her a pair of socks, from Knit Picks’ Stroll Multi Yarn, in a great colour called “cupcake”. This picture doesn’t do the wonderful browns and pinks justice. It is a great colour, in a great yarn.

In return, Steph made me this fantastic necklace with some wonderful blue and white beads. In particular I love the heart shaped beads and the blue beads with thin veins of black running through them.

Thanks Steph!

In other news... I'm making good progress on the project I cast on the other day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Monday. While for some this is a day to give thanks and for others it is all about the turkey, for me it is all about having a whole day free to do whatever I want.

We decided that this year we will have a lazy turkey dinner, so we are having a turkey breast (no carcass to clean up!), pre-made stuffing (not as good as home-made, but better than Stove Top), fresh vegetables (healthy and no prep time), and instead of mashed potatoes we are having french fries (no peeling potatoes!). So this means the entire meal only involves heating things up and I’ve got more time to do other things.

On today’s craft agenda, I’m preparing to make a couple of winter coats for Cici. Since I am a good mother and I do not make my son wear home-made clothes, poor Cici becomes the recipient of all my home-made clothing urges.

This winter she will be sporting tie-dye fleece…

And, she will be wearing some fabulous fake fur!

I’ve never made anything with fake fur. When I bought the fabric (at a great sale!) it didn’t occur to me what challenges lay ahead. Fake fur sheds! When I took the fabric out of the bag to show Jacob, he was instantly covered in fake fur bits. Not fun to clean up. My solution to managing this problem during the fabric cutting stage was to cut out the fabric outside to help limit the amount of fluff in our apartment. Note to self – do not ever buy fake fur again!

For tonight’s TV viewing accompaniment, I’m working on a mitten that I cast on yesterday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Introducing... My New Blog


Chances are if you have found this blog it is because I sent you here, therefore I will not prattle on with a long-winded introduction. So let's dive right into to talking about things I make.
While I've been known to dabble in many crafts, and have spent significant hours sewing things, the pastime I undertake the most is knitting. For years I would knit with a purpose, sometimes for myself and sometimes for family or friends. The result is that I often put myself under ridiculous deadlines (especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas!)
A couple of years ago my friend Meredith inspired me (tempted me) with the idea of making mittens. I am easily tempted with new things and Meredith can be a hard to resist (bad) influence. So I bought some yarn and made a pair of mittens... and I loved them. I followed that pair of mittens with a second pair of mittens...and I loved them too. The yarn that hooked me was Jamieson's 100% pure Shetland wool. The colours were amazing and I could buy it from a wonderful online retailer, Camilla Valley Farm. After two pairs of mittens I was on a roll and ready to knit some more. Soon I had dreams of buying one ball of every colour they sold (check their website, there's a lot of colours!) While I perused their website and dreamt of a room filled with every colour of yarn, I stumbled across another online retailer, Knit Picks.
Knit Picks is a wonderful company that really knows how to show off yarn colours. I spent time dreaming of all the colours they displayed on the website and before I knew it I had bought enough yarn to make several more mittens, even several pairs of mittens! Not only does Knit Picks offer a beautiful display of yarn colours on their website, they also produce an old-fashioned print catalogue that has the best display of yarn colours. See...

Some bloggers (and readers) like food porn, but I'm more of a sucker for yarn porn.
So, there I was, Christmas was approaching and I put myself under a ridiculous deadline to make mittens. Here's the result of last fall's knitting frenzy.
The purple and grey mittens in the bottom right corner is the pair that started my dangerous mitten addiction. 
There we have it, my first blog post. I'm not sure if I make enough stuff to sustain a blog over the long-term and I'm not sure if writing a blog will sustain my interest over the long-term, but I am committed to giving it a good try and if I cannot sustain the momentum I promise to bow out gracefully and not leave people hanging, wondering if there will ever be another post.