Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reasons Why I Should Want To Knit Socks with Two Colours and Tea Cozies

I don’t want to knit socks with two colours. I find two colour knitting is stiffer than knitting with only one colour, and the end product is denser. This is great for mittens that you want to be extra warm, but in my mind it isn’t desirable for socks that should be soft and pliable. Sadly, today I was ambling through the KnitPicks site and came across a few patterns that I would like to knit, but never will.

I love the Hawaiian Tattoo Socks, which have a great flowing wave combined with a geometric triangle pattern – http://www.knitpicks.com/patterns/Hawaiian_Tattoo_Socks___D11553220.html

The Hotcross Bones Socks are just plain fun – http://www.knitpicks.com/patterns/Hot_Crossbones_Socks__D10740220.html

And, I like the Fishgyle Socks Pattern, because the name is funny – http://www.knitpicks.com/patterns/Fishgyle_Socks_Pattern__D10017220.html



Another thing I don’t want is a tea cozy. If I want to make tea and serve it promptly I have a lovely china teapot. If I want my tea to sit and stay warm, I have a lovely teapot shaped thermos that keeps the tea warm for hours, so I have no need for a tea cozy to keep my tea in a pot warm. It’s too bad, because the KnitPicks African Queen Tea Cozy pattern is good fun - http://www.knitpicks.com/patterns/African_Queen_Tea_Cozy___D11758220.html.

(Hmm, I’ve only ever had one person serve me tea and keep the pot warm with a tea cozy. I’m thinking this might make a good Christmas present for this certain someone.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Random Thoughts - 052812

As my fellow bloggers will attest, some days it is darn hard to come up with something to blog about. My life isn’t that interesting, and most often it goes like this.

  • Monday – Get up go to work, come home exhausted, eat dinner, watch TV (tonight I will watch Veep and Bethenny)
  • Tuesday – See Monday
  • Wednesday – See Tuesday (or skip right to seeing Monday)
  • Thursday – Be happy that the week is about to end, but panic slightly that I haven’t gotten enough done at work, come home exhausted, eat dinner, watch TV
  • Friday – Put in my time at work, come home, go to the pub
  • Saturday – Sleep in, run errands, sit around and relax
  • Sunday – Sleep in, get groceries, nap, watch TV

While the above may make for a content life, it doesn’t always make for a satisfying blog post.

For the past week I’ve been highly distracted by the Leftover Blanket, so there isn’t much else to report on. So tonight, while the rice is cooking, I’ve looked around and come up with some random thoughts to share.

Leftover Blanket – Progress Report

I have now completed this much.




In particular, I like the look of the big square knit from Peach-Mango Kool-aid yarn.




Gloss Socks – Progress Report

Due to the distraction of the Leftover Blanket, there has been very little progress on the Gloss Socks




The Pea Report – Day 9

These guys are really growing fast




Yarn Wants

The May KnitPicks catalogue arrived. They have some gorgeous tonal colours that I would love to own.




Reason #357 to Love Summer

These are very good.





That is all.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yarn Cocktails - A Book Review

A generous friend gave me a gift this week, the book “The Knitter’s Guide to Yarn Cocktails”. This was such a thoughtful gift that I truly appreciate it, while being frightened by it at the same time.




The tagline on the book is that it offers “30 Technique-Expanding Recipes for Tasty Little Projects”. It does deliver on this promise. The book begins with a well presented series of background information on things like tools, fibres, and general instructions on how to read the patterns.

As you move into the pattern section, you can see that there are well written instructions that articulate the finished sizes, materials required, and step-by-step instructions for a series of drink-inspired knit items.

First up, is the “Singapore Sling Bandeau”, a cute top best suited for a young girl. This is followed by a belt/scarf pattern that could have potential if knit from the right yarn. The third pattern is for a simple, but nice pair of Long Island Ice Tea Athletic Socks.

The problem with this book is when you innocently keep turning the pages and get to page 44 where you come across one of those things you can’t unsee – Banana Boat Men’s Boxers. They even go so far as to say the pattern is “Ribbed for your pleasure” (Eeek! Seriously, I couldn’t make that up.) The suggested yarn is made up of merino wool, polyester and nylon. I highly recommend that you check to ensure the recipient doesn’t have a wool allergy before you begin knitting these as a gift.

If you have the stomach to keep working through the book there is a mix of nice and questionable patterns. By the time you get to page 143 the book redeems itself by presenting recipes for 28 different cocktails. Maybe I should make a nice Long Island Iced Tea and try to think of the socks, and put the boxers out of my mind.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Pea Report - Day 5

I don't have enough time for a proper blog post this week, but I do have an update on the pea progress. On day 5, the seeds have shown evidence of sprouting.




Here is a gratuitous picture of Cici with the pea sprouts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Brithday Vicky!

Today is Victoria Day in Canada, where we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria. This may well be the oldest federal holiday in Canada, marking the birthday of a woman who has been dead for more than a century. The day is most commonly marked with fireworks – I guess Victoria must have liked fireworks. (I've taken the liberty to call her Vicky, but rumour has it that her friends called her Drina.)

As a family we do not do anything to mark the day, but we do enjoy a long weekend, particularly one with weather as spectacular as this one.

Having done all my chores for the weekend, today is about doing whatever I want. I started the day with a desire to bake. Unfortunately I didn’t have the ingredients for the recipes I desired. I was in the mood for corn muffins, or muffins with fruit, or oatmeal based muffins, but I didn’t have cornmeal, or fruit, or oatmeal, so the best I could do was pull out this recipe…




From the Muffin Mania cookbook that I have had forever.




Here is the result. They made for a lovely breakfast.




Aside from my tiny bit of gardening, this weekend has been about working on the Leftover Blanket and I cast on some socks, using the Gloss yarn that I wound into a ball the other day.




I love long weekends!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gardening and Other Long Weekend Activities

Today has been an amazing day! It is a perfect long weekend Saturday. Here in Canada we are celebrating a long weekend in honour of Queen Victoria. I’m not sure how many Canadians value Victoria’s contributions to our country, but I do know that all Canadians love the first long weekend of the summer.

My main goal today was to do some gardening on my balcony. I’m not a gardener (I don’t have a single house plant) but every year, in addition to white shoes, this weekend brings out my desire to garden. While wearing white shoes lasts until Labour Day, my desire to garden only lasts a couple of weeks. I will spend the next two weeks faithfully nurturing and watering my new balcony garden plants, but that activity will wane quickly. Nevertheless, I have decided to give it another go this year.

Today I planted these flowers and some mint. I figure the thought of using the mint in some wonderful summer mojitos may extend my gardening desire.




In addition to the flowers and mint, today’s work involved putting these…




Into this




I’m hopeful that the enticement of eating peas off the vine will prolong my gardening desire well into the summer season. According to the seed packet, I will be eating peas in 61 days, so stay tuned for an update on July 19. My last attempt at growing peas was in 2003 and it was a success, so I have high hopes for some mid-summer peas.




It was amusing when I bought the pea seeds from the grocery store. The very young looking cashier picked up the seed packet and looked at it, turned it over, tilted her head and looked at it more closely, turned it over two more times and then finally looked up at me and said incredulously, “you can grow these things?”  Ah the wonder of youth, when you don’t question how the food magically appears on the grocery store shelves.


In other news…

Today was one of those magical days that seemed to go on forever. I managed to do more today than I have in the past month.

My day began with a wonderful bit of sleeping in. Once we were up, we took Cici to the vet for her annual checkup and enjoyed a nice trip to Starbucks on the way home. Once home it was off to meet some friends for a bit of shopping which included another trip to Starbucks and a trip to a new cupcake store.

I bought these new shoes.




And I bought and smushed these cupcakes.




In spite of being served in a less than perfect state, the cupcakes were amazing. I highly recommend checking out Bakes and Goods which will give other cupcake shops some decent competition. I sampled a chocolate raspberry cupcake that was out of this world, a lemon cupcake that was superb and a red velvet cupcake that was also wonderful but not as spectacular as the other two.

Back at home I managed to get all the gardening done and then enjoyed some time on the beautified balcony by giving myself a pedicure and reading while my toes dried.

Next up was an enjoyable dinner at Peoples Chicken with the Climax Jazz Band.

Hard to believe I got all that done in one day. Also hard to believe how much I managed to eat today. Thankfully all that activity amounted to at least 8 km of walking, but I think I will have to do a lot more walking this weekend to deal with today’s indulgences.

Now I will sit on the couch and knit!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tomorrow We Garden

I haven't been a good blogger this week. Work has gotten the better of me and I just haven't found the time to think up, write and post something worthy.

I'll be back at it tomorrow when I will share my (no doubt brief) desire to garden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Swift is Swift

My KnitPicks Swift arrived yesterday and I love it!

When I came home from work tonight I pulled out two skeins of KnitPicks Gloss yarn. It is 10% merino wool and 30% silk, which means it is very nice. I can’t wait to see how it knits up into a pair of socks.




Before I can knit socks, I need to wind the yarn and so tonight was all about trying the new swift. It is amazing – in 1 minute and 35 seconds, I wound this…




Into this!




In the time it took to boil some spaghetti I wound two balls of yarn (thanks Steve for stirring the pasta.) You can tell it is fast from this picture, because it is blurry.




I don’t know why this invention is called a Swift, (I’m sure I could look it up on that internet thing, but I’m too lazy) but I’m guessing it is because back in the 1800s, some farmer was sick of holding his wife’s yarn. He must have spent his winter months in the barn designing the first Swift and when he brought inside and showed it to his wife, she stood there with her arms crossed, nodding with a slight smile and said “wow, that sure is swift”.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Progress Report

I continue to make good progress on my Leftover Blanket. Here is where it is at.




I’m about 15% of the way through, and have incorporated my own leftover sock yarn as well as incorporating the minis from Catherine in California, Kool-aid yarn from Christine in New Hampshire, and leftovers from Meredith. I can’t wait to snuggle up under the blanket when it is done.


If I continue to progress at this pace I should finish the blanket sometime in January. The good news is that it will be cold enough in January to enjoy the blanket. The bad news is that I’m guessing when the July heat arrives my work on the blanket will slow down dramatically, so the January finish may not be realistic. Regardless the blanket will keep me warm in the winter of 2014.



TV  Thoughts


It is an exciting time in TV world tonight.

·        Canada’s Got Talent finals start tonight. I’m not really that into talent shows, but as a Rogers family, I feel like I must support the effort to build Rogers owned content.

·        Desperate Housewives last episode airs tonight. This is exciting in TV land, but doesn’t mean much for me. I’ve never watched an episode of Desperate Housewives, but I know plenty of people that have, so I appreciate the importance of a major series ender. (And maybe now Eva Longoria can return to Y&R to deal with her nutcase kid.)

·        Sister Wives is back tonight. Back in April I admitted that the Real Housewives are my guilty TV pleasure. That wasn’t completely truthful. My absolute guiltiest TV pleasure is watching Sister Wives. I can’t explain why I like to watch it. I don’t like the Brown’s, I don’t relate to the Brown’s beliefs and philosophy, yet I am strangely drawn in to needing to know about their life – will they build a new house big enough for four families?, why isn’t Christine happy?, will the teens go back to Utah after high school? So much that I want to know about them.

·        Survivor season finale is tonight. This is my big excitement for tonight. I’ve got Kim in our Survivor pool and she is looking pretty darn good right now. I could be in for some money if Kim can hang on through the two-hour finale.

Here’s hoping the Survivor pool pays off and that my next blog post is me prattling on about how to spend my winnings.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Snow Crocus Socks and Ice Cream

I finished my May project a couple of nights ago. It is a pair of socks knit from Fleece Artist Trail Socks yarn. Fleece Artist is a wonderful yarn mill from Nova Scotia. They offer beautiful spun fibres in gorgeous colours.




While these socks will not match my wardrobe, I couldn’t resist the beautiful Snow Crocus colour way. It captures the beauty of a first crocus perfectly. Maybe I will keep these socks, or maybe I will add them to the for sale pile at some point.


In food news…

Look out Cherry Garcia, there’s a new kid in town.




This is some seriously good ice cream! The flavours are more blended than those in Cherry Garcia, but still amazing.  If I were choosing, I would likely reach for the Cherry Garcia first, but Hรคagen Dazs Cherry Chocolate Chunk is a worthy opponent.

The danger of taking a picture of ice cream on a Saturday morning is that you wind up eating the ice cream for breakfast. It was good!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where would you go?

As we were sitting around this weekend, dreaming of lottery wins, we discussed the question of what 3 vacations we would like to take if we had no shortage of time and money.

Jacob is perfectly happy at home so he doesn’t want to go anywhere, Steve came up with a couple of ideas and I had trouble narrowing it down to a list of three. If I had no shortage of time and money I like to think I would travel to many places.

If I have to narrow it down to three, here is what comes to mind.

One trip would be to see a new city, like Chicago.



Or New York




Another trip would be on a cruise to Alaska or the Panama Canal. I’ve never been on a cruise and who wouldn’t want to be as happy as this couple.



And I can’t have a top spots vacation list without some consideration to Disney. I’d love to spend a week at the Wilderness Lodge at Christmas. I miss this lobby and it would be beautifully decorated.


But if time and money is no object I should add a second week to my trip so I can stay at the Grand Floridian.



But we did enjoy our stay near Epcot, so perhaps I should add a third week at the Yacht Club.




And if I am spending my leisure time in Florida, I better make it a solid month so I can head down to Fort Myers with some friends and dip my toes in the ocean.




What 3 vacations would you take if time and money weren’t an issue?








Monday, May 7, 2012

Faux Cables

I’m loving the knitting pattern I am using to knit a pair of socks, for my project for May. I stumbled across this pattern on Ravelry, and I am so glad. I think this will be one of my go to patterns in the future.

I love the look of intricately patterned socks, but I like the feel of wearing plain stockinette stitch or socks made from a plain ribbing. When I found this pattern I knew it would be the perfect blend for my fussy tastes – it has the perfect blend of plain stockinette stitch on the bottom, a cable-look on top for visual interest, and some ribbing for comfortable stretch.

The pattern is by a knitting designer named Jen in Chicago. She has designed a perfect blend of knitting two stitches together, yarn overs and twisted stitches to result in a cable-look without that pesky cable needle. You can find her ideas and patterns on her blog at http://www.knittinglikecrazy.com/.

Here is what my version of Jen’s faux cable looks like.




I’m almost done the first sock, so I should have both done next weekend, IF I don’t let the Leftover Blanket distract me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Indulgent Saturday

Today has been a great day. The weather is amazing so I have been out and about. My wonderful husband did all the cleaning earlier this week so with no laundry or vacuuming nagging at me, I could do whatever I wanted today. I decided that I wanted to make a couple of our favourite foods.

I began by baking chocolate cookies.




The recipe is one handed to me by my sister a few (many few) years ago, and I’ve been making it ever since. It contains a package of vanilla pudding for some extra goodness.




Next up I made a bowl of 7-layer dip which we will consume in place of supper. I will claim to have made this in honour of Cinco De Mayo.




Healthy eating be dammed. Today we will eat dip and cookies and not worry about it.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Swift Destiny

I’ve done it – I’ve just purchased a yarn swift – Yay!

After yesterday’s whiny post about the perils of winding yarn without a swift, I opened up my email today to find an email from KnitPicks with the subject line “One Week Swift Sale!” That seemed like the universe’s way of telling me that my time to buy a swift is now.

This little beauty will be making its way to me as soon as it moves through the KnitPicks warehouse – yay!




The cheap (or frugal, or stubborn) side of me still had an influence. The KnitPicks swift is on sale for $50. Before I could dive in and order it, I did some shopping around by phone and called Romni (a wonderful, but scary yarn store in Toronto that seemed like the most likely place to get a reasonably priced swift.) Romni had one swift in stock for $84. So the KnitPicks price is cheap in comparison.

Clearly my destiny is to own this swift.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When Yarn Winding Goes Bad

Alternate titles for this post:
  • Yarn winding – know when to stop
  • How I know my husband loves me
  • Two hours of my life that I’ll never get back

When yarn is purchased it sometimes comes in nice little balls where the yarn ready to knit as it is pulled from the outside or centre. However, some yarn comes loose, in a skein (or some say a hank.) A loose skein is typically produced by a smaller mill, presumably because it is cheaper to manufacture, or possibly because they look pretty enough to sucker in discerning knitters.

When purchased a skein looks like this beautiful sample of wondrous colour.




When untwisted, the yarn looks like this.




The challenge of this loose yarn is that you must wind it into a ball before you can knit with it (Steph can attest to this.) If you don’t wind it, you will have a bird’s nest knot, in no time. There are different methods to wind the yarn.

  1. You can prop it up on a chair back and patiently hand-wind it into a ball. This method is best suited for those who are frugal and patient.
  2. You can prop it up on a chair back and use a ball winder to speed up the process. This method is even faster if you have a buddy to hold the yarn.
  3. You can invest in a ball winder to wind the yarn and a swift to hold the yarn and the process is quick and efficient.

I’m not patient enough for option 1 and I’m too cheap (or frugal, or stubborn) to spend $60 on the swift required for option 3, so I’m stuck in the middle with option 2. I have a ball winder, so when faced with a skein of yarn I prop the yarn up on a chair (less than ideal), or I request the help of a friend (risky, as Meredith and I almost broke up from a yarn winding incident), or I ask my husband to help me out and raise his hands.

Last night I came home from work and decided to break open my Fleece Artist yarn from the Knitter’s Frolic and start knitting a pair of socks… after the skein was wound into a ball. Sounded simple enough. My husband was near the sewing area so I enlisted his help and he patiently obliged. At first the yarn came off the skein super smoothly and it looked like this skein would be wound up in record time (I thought that, but I didn’t tempt fate by saying it out loud.) After a little bit, the yarn started catching but we patiently endured. A few minutes later there was a minor tangle which I worked out and then we were off and winding again.

I thought about taking a picture of my husband and the yarn for the blog, but I didn’t want to push my luck since all was going smoothly, and then… a super tangle jumped off the skein. Noooo, this is not good. Knowing how bad a super tangle can get (thinking of you Meredith), I immediately stopped everything, gently took the yarn off my husband’s hands and draped it over a chair.

Next up, I started to pick away at the tangle, winding the yarn slowly, one little bit at a time. The tangle began to solidify making it more and more challenging to unwind. Next I had to resort in trying to approach the tangle from the other end of the skein. Since I only have one ball winder, I needed to wind the other end by hand, slowly passing the ball of yarn over and under different loops to work through the tangle.

Finally, after two hours of patient work, I managed to produce this wonderful ball of yarn.





The bonus is that it fits perfectly into my yarn bowl.




Lesson learned – don’t ever count your yarn before it is wound.