Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Made Chili

Tonight for supper we are eating this…

It has been a group effort. A couple of weekends ago I made the chili and put it in the freezer and today my son came home from school and put it in the slow cooker. Sometimes having a teenager is handy!

I will never get over the joy of coming home from work and having supper ready to eat. Mmmm!

In other news… Gotta love having a temperature of 9°C on an evening in January!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scared to Dive In and Bead

Over the Christmas holidays I spent some money on beads and findings. I made a rare (possibly my first) trip to Michael’s and spent much money on beads for two projects and a bunch of miscellaneous findings that would equip me to make some jewellery. But I didn’t dive in and create something.

Then I went to the library and took out several books on beads and jewellery making. I’ve looked at the books, I’ve read all the how-to’s, I’ve studied the samples for inspiration and I’ve renewed the books so I can keep them at hand. But still I haven’t created something.

Next I decided using our old pliers wasn’t for me and I went to Mary Maxim and bought special round nose pliers and a crimper. After all, to make glorious creations I need to be equipped with the best tools. But still I haven’t created something.

This past week I finally bought some bead stringing wire, the only supply that I didn’t yet have on hand. But still… I haven’t created something.

I’ve now realized that I am scared to make a necklace. I have these beautiful brown and topaz beads that hold so much potential for great beauty. Each individual bead is beautiful. The silver wrapped beads are gorgeous and the pendant is stunning. The problem is that I’m scared to take these beautiful bits and create a necklace. The end creation should be something that is more beautiful than the sum of its parts… but what if it isn’t?  What if the resulting necklace is just a pile of beads that detract from the individual pieces of beauty?

Should I use all the beads in one necklace? Should I use a more minimalistic approach and not stress if all the beads aren’t used? Should I create a necklace from the pendants and brownish/topaz beads and use the silver wrapped beads to make a coordinating bracelet? So many beads, so many possibilities…

We will see what this weekend brings. I may create a necklace or I may just hide in the safety of a pair of mittens that I am working on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Imagination Socks

This week I finally finished the socks that I was working backwards on last weekend. While trying not to lose too much of my humility, I must say that they are beautiful socks (although the picture doesn’t show it).

They are a simple rib sock with a cable detail down the sides.

The socks are knit from KnitPicks Imagination yarn. This is a gorgeous yarn with a soft blend of merino wool and superfine alpaca. I love it! The socks are going into the for sale pile as part of the fundraising efforts for MS Research, but if they don’t sell, I will happily keep them for myself.

I chose the Castle Walls colour, because knitting something called Imagination in the Castle Walls colour sounds like a wonderful fairy tale. Here is a better picture of the colour.

They also have a colour that a friend of mine would like. It is called Unicorn.

In entertainment news today, I have lots to keep my eyes on. Our neighbouring building put up a crane this morning (thankfully after we awoke), so if I get bored I can look out my dining room window and watch the construction reality show. (Update – In the time it has taken me to write this blog the crane has finished its work and come down. Crane guys are efficient!)

This afternoon we are heading out with some friends to see Caroline or Change, a musical that is getting some very good reviews. Throw in some before and after food and drink and all in all, this will be a great Saturday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kool-aid, Kool-aid Tastes Great! (and Dyes Great!)

Last week, Cheryl commented on the colourful yarn in the background of my blog, so I figured I’d give you the story of that yarn (and why it is in a sink.)

Several years ago, I was out with Meredith and she said “don’t you want to try dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid” and sadly (as I often do) I dismissed her with a scoff and said “no, not even a little bit.” She (as she always patiently does) said “really, are you sure” and asked me three more times until the inevitable purchase of plain yarn, ready for dyeing. Once I was sold on the idea I was all in and we both began seeking out Kool-aid from our local corner stores and soon had a day of dyeing some yarn with Kool-aid.

Kool-aid is actually well known as a great yarn dye. It is readily available and non-toxic. You can Google Kool-aid yarn to find plenty of instructions, but I think we used the instructions fromKnitty. Knitty is an amazing website filled with incredible patterns and tutorials. I really should spend more of my time on Knitty.

Once we prepared the dye, we laid out our yarn on the table, covered with garbage bags to prevent the inevitable yarn mess. We took turns dropping bits of dye onto the yarn until we had our skeins covered in a beautiful, colourful mess.

Next up the yarn is baked in the microwave oven to help the dye set. My yarn was a mix of bright colours.

Meredith’s yarn was more muted.

After baking, the yarn was rinsed in the sink. I really like how the colours of the yarn looked against the stainless steel background.

After rinsing the yarn was hung out to dry in the sun.

I could have taken countless pictures of the yarn, as I loved how it looked every step along the way.

Once dry, my yarn was knit up into a pair of socks. I loved these socks. They may be my all-time favourite socks. I’m sure it was all in my head, but to me they always smelled somewhat fruity, like a glass of Kool-aid.

Eventually the socks were worn right through, but I wasn’t ready to give up on them so I used the worn out socks, combined with some other wayward bits and pieces to make Cici a toy. She also loved the Kool-aid socks eventually playing with them long and hard enough to bring them to their final death.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sometimes Forwards, Sometimes Backwards

Last night I happily sat down to knit. The cars came across the stage and there were some nice ones, but nothing too exciting. I was happily working on my sock, knowing I would finish it this weekend, possibly even last night. (nope)

As I took a break to look at the sock I saw an error. I should have cabled to the back but I had cabled to the front. Grr, I now had to un-knit (also known as tink) 3 cm of knitting. Oh well, it happens and you move on. So I ripped back the knitting and oh so carefully put the stitches back on the oh so small 2mm needle. Back to knitting.

Then something made me look at the sock again and count the cable twists on the leg. There should be 10. I counted 9. It was late (and post Friday night dinner drink) so I double-checked and counted again – 9. I got up and counted the already finished sock – 10. I counted the sock in progress again – 9. I repeated these steps a few more times until I was ready to accept that the sock in progress had another error…10 cm back. So, once again I had to un-knit a significant portion and put the stitches back on the teeny, tiny needle. And then I went to bed.

It is a new day, with new cars on the auction block, so optimism has returned. The sock may still get finished this weekend.

Sometimes you knit forwards, sometimes you knit backwards.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Weekend of Knitting and Cars

This weekend the weather is cold, we have no plans and most importantly The Barrett Jackson Car Auction is on.

So tonight we begin our marathon of sitting on the couch, knitting and watching the cars cross the auction block. Maybe at the end of the weekend I will have completed a project or two.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Which Colours Would You Choose?

I’m setting my sights on my next knitting project (after the 2 I currently have on the go J ).

I’m thinking mittens, but I have so much yarn in my stash I’m not sure which colours to choose. I’ve definitely crossed the line where too much choice is harder than no choice at all.

Here are all the colours I have to choose from. I prefer making mittens with just two colours, but am happy to throw in a third as a small accent, if the colours call for it.

As I look at the colour options, I could go with a standard pink and brown (O&T), or I could do the always safe N or W with any colour. I’d really like to use E or B or P, and they could work together in some combination, but I’m not sure. So many choices.

So, if you were to pick two colours to put together, which two would you choose?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Few of My Favourite Knitting Accessories

Yesterday, as I was working on a pair of socks, I realized I was using three of my favourite knitting accessories. Each of these items makes me happy as I knit.

At the top of the list is my AddiTurbo knitting needle. Like most knitters, I have dozens of knitting needles, but if I could only have one needle it would be my 2.0 mm, 100 cm long Addi Turbo circular needle. The needles are smooth and the cable is flexible. Ever since I discovered knitting using the Magic Loop method I have used this needle and will hopefully never use double-pointed needles again. If you knit socks or mittens and haven’t tried the Magic Loop method, Google it. You will be happier for having learned this technique.

The next favourite on my list is my yarn bowl. This is a bowl hand-crafted for use when knitting so the yarn is neatly contained in a bowl that allow for it to pass smoothly through the slot on the side of the dish. Because of the slot the bowl is completely useless for anything else, but it works well for knitting. I don’t think the yarn bowl helps all that much, but it is a beautiful piece of pottery that I enjoy looking down on as I knit. I wish I could remember who I bought this from to give the artist the credit deserved.

And finally, my newest accessory is my cable needle. I have always used a straight cable needle and this past New Year’s, when out shopping with Cathy, I bought this Boye needle from Michael’s and I love it. The U shape keeps the needle out of the way and make knitting cables so much faster than the straight needles I have grown accustomed to.

Stay tuned for a future post where I will be asking for input on colour choices.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Making Wreaths for MS Research

After having thankfully finished my pre-Christmas wreath bonanza, I’m having a feeling of déjà vu and find myself back in the wreath making frenzy.

Recently Steph came to me with a great idea. She wanted to know if I wanted to help out the Herbal Magic Yonge-Lawrence team make some items to sell to raise money for MS research. I also signed up to join them in the MS Walk on April 22 (more on that in a future blog post). 

Making crafts for a good cause sounded like a great idea and the thought of knitting mittens and making some wreaths between now and April sounded like a relaxing way to spend my winter evenings. What I neglected to consider is that the craft sale is being spearheaded by Nora who is more enthusiastic and driven than I will ever be. Nora is a wonderful woman, worshipped for her margarita magic as well as her infinite capacity for taking on new projects. I should have realized that she would not patiently sit and watch the next few months pass by until the craft sale begins. She wants to start the craft sale NOW, and let it run until April.

Since it takes me at least two weeks to whip up some socks or mittens, I’ve resorted to making wreaths as my early contribution to the craft sale. I will be making socks and mittens too, but for now I’ll start my efforts with some wreaths.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yarn From Nebraska

It was an exciting day today. After work I rushed from work to get to the post office and pick up a package that I was hoping would contain yarn – and yes the package did contain yarn! Yay!

Just before the end of the year I did something I haven’t done before. I ordered yarn from a complete stranger over the internet. I was on Ravelry, a knitters/yarn networking site, and I came across a post by someone who was looking to destash some Palette yarn. As mentioned in previous posts, KnitPicks Palette is one of my all-time favourite yarns. The desire to own more Palette at a bargain price was too much to resist. I decided it would be fun to have someone else pick the colours for me and I jumped in with both feet and requested that the Palette come to my home.

Before I had time to think twice I had signed up for a PayPal account and handed over some money and then I sat back and waited and hoped the yarn would come to me, all the way from Nebraska. When I got the package home today I procrastinated opening it just in case the contents were a disappointment. I couldn’t bear the thought of this package not living up to my dreams. Eventually supper was cooking on the stove and there was nothing left to do but break open the package, and… it was beautiful! Eleven balls of Palette as promised in perfect condition and in a beautiful assortment of colours. There is a bright red, some gorgeous purples, a beautiful soft pink, some green, navy and gray, and a ball of yellow Semolina that always catches my eye but never makes the final cut in my KnitPicks shopping cart.

Thank you Beth from Nebraska for sending me this wonderful batch of Palette yarn. Stay tuned to see it pop up in a new project soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Big Cookie

Tonight, Steve made supper and did the dishes, so I made The Big Cookie. Mmm.

In other news… the postman left a card for me to go pick up a package tomorrow. I don’t know what it is, but it could be yarn!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Things I Like About Creating a Blog

It’s been three months since I started this blog and a good time to think about what I like about blogging. Blogging takes time (this thing doesn’t just write itself you know) and my style of blog needs a lot of pictures (I think Steve is starting to get used to the constant stream of flash photography). However, the effort put into the blog seems to be worth it as it does bring some enjoyable moments. Here are some of the things I like about creating this blog.

·       Being inspired by the blogs of friends – such as Adrienne’s aSquared blog.

·       Gaining a new appreciation for blogs I follow (especially appreciating why there are times when days go by without a new post) – love the humour on Laurie Perry’s Crazy Aunt Purl blog, and the gorgeous photography on Jane Brocket’s Yarnstorm blog.

·       I’ve discovered new blogs such as Skipper’s Waterborne blog which is all about life on a boat in British Columbia.

·       It pleased me greatly when Kim told me she enjoys my blog – she’s a bona fide professional writer and critic, so if I can get her attention I must be doing something right.

·       Having a place to use words that amuse me – like “bona fide” (I always hear Holly Hunter’s voice when I use the words bona fide).

·       Making new acquaintances with people from other countries – love that I have received comments from people in Barbados and Singapore.

·       Getting to know some of my cyber friends a bit more, such a Joanie from the DisBoards or Michelle from CanadianParents, as we find new topics to chat about and get to know each other a bit better.

·       Always being fascinated by the stats on my blog – love looking at the traffic sources and seeing a new country pop up on my list of audiences. This week I’ve had visitors from Canada, Germany, Russia, United States, Philippines, Georgia and the Ukraine.

·       Seeing what people search on to land then at my blog. This week someone found me by searching on “It’s a quilt thing” and another person found me when the searched for “young and the restless cookies” (who needs young and the restless cookies?)

·       Making some money to buy more yarn and beads. Since I’ve started this blog my hobbies are now paying for themselves.

·       Having a place to showcase pictures of what I make (and pictures of my dog!)

So, while this blogging thing takes some effort, it is worth it and I’m committed to keep this going for at least three more months so I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Before and After - A New Coat for Miss Cici

As you’ve seen in previous posts, I like to make coats for my dog. I’m guessing if I had a baby girl I would dress it up in cute clothes that I would make, but I have a 15-year old boy who isn’t much interested in hand sewn clothes. So, I make coats for my dog.

Truth be told, I’m tired of making coats for the dog and thought I was done, but she needed a rain coat and I felt obliged to create one. I fought against the idea partly because I was tired of spending money on dog clothes, but mostly because it was already ridiculous that our entry way has been taken over by a coat rack containing five dog coats and a set of dog boots. (Yes the dog wears boots – they are called Muttluks.) I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to squeeze a sixth coat onto the coat rack. Then one day an idea came to mind – I could simply add a waterproof layer of fabric onto one of her current fleece coats which would be inexpensive since I would only have to buy one layer of fabric; would not result in a sixth coat; and it would be dry and warm, since it would have both a waterproof and fleece layer.

Here is the before pic. You can see she was not that impressed by this coat (although it was one of my favourites.)

Here are the after pics. A wonderful new raincoat in a light blue shade, trimmed with a paw print ribbon. As always thanks go to Auben who created the pattern for all of Cici's coats.

Thankfully I can now return to working on projects that are somewhat saner.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all who read this blog.

My family rang in the New Year in style at a friends’ house. There was good food and good fun in a wonderful place. One of the many wreaths found its way on to a beautiful tree.

We were thankful for our friends and even more thankful to learn we missed a 26-hour power outage at home. Sadly, this power outage resulted in some lost food in the freezer and fridge, and a significant purchase of new food. On the positive side, we missed the entire outage and the fridge and freezer are spotless.
While visiting with friends I was able to do some shopping at Michael’s and Fabricland, so I have some new purchases to inspire my next creations. Too tired to do a full blog on the purchases now, but their time for a public unveiling will come.

Cici spent New Year’s with some friends of her own which were kind enough to rescue her from the power outage. She seems to have had a good time, but is now suffering the post-Christmas blues.