Sunday, March 24, 2013

Over and Out

It has been two weeks since my last post, and just over two weeks since I finished my quilt. The quilt is a huge accomplishment for me, years in the making. It has been a very successful quilt that we love sleeping underneath. You’ve had some glimpses at it along the way, but here is the finished product.

As I’ve been pondering posting this picture, I haven’t been able to post it with any haste. This has led me to the realization that the time has come for my blog to go on hiatus. While I’ve enjoyed the blog, I have to admit that my days are already full enough and posting on the blog has become more of a chore than a source of enjoyment. So, for now, I will not be blogging. I’ll keep it in the back of my head and may come back to it someday, but not likely this year or next.

I will keep making things (I currently have 3 projects on the go and another dozen in my mind), and in place of my blog, I’ll likely post pictures and brief bits on Twitter, so if you are interested, feel free to follow along at

Thanks for being here to read over the past year and a half. Your thoughts and comments made it that much more enjoyable.

That is all!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Binding the Quilt – The Best Part of Quilt Making

This weekend, I’ve been working on attaching the binding to my quilt. This is my favourite part of quilt making.
First I machine sew strips of fabric to the edge of the quilt.
Then I fold the binding over and hand stitch the binding in place. 
The result is a nice, neat edge for the quilt.
What makes this my favourite part of quilt making is that I get to snuggle up on the couch, under the quilt while I sew the binding in place.  Cici has discovered this is her favourite part of quilt making too, and she has been snuggled up with me for much of the weekend.
Jacob also couldn’t resist joining us on the couch, but he is a teenager so we are not allowed to take his picture.
Here are some extra pictures of Cici enjoying the quilt this weekend.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Hand-me-down Yarn (a la Cici)

This week I completed a new project using some hand-me-down yarn.

To set some context, I don’t like receiving hand-me-down yarn or fabric. I knit or sew with that which inspires me, and I find it difficult to get inspired by others’ cast off supplies. I hate saying no to my mother, but I’ve had to say no to her offers of fabric and yarn more times that I can recall. I try hard to avoid situations where I have to decline generous offers of yarn, because it is hard for me to get inspired by yarn that I didn’t pick out. We live in a teeny, tiny space, so there isn’t room to store a lot of yarn and fabric for use “someday”. I have received some great gifts of sock yarn in the past that I’ve enjoyed using, but in those cases they were picked out special for me and held more meaning that the typical hand-me-down yarn scenario.

So why did I work on this project using someone else’s yarn? Well it started last Saturday when my sister sent me a funny picture of a dog wearing a crocheted sweater that made it look like a sheep. It was hilarious and Cici would have looked perfect in it, but I just shook my head at it and tried to walk away from the computer. But of course, I couldn’t walk away without checking out Ravelry first to see if the pattern for the sheep sweater was available. I did uncover the source of the sheep sweater, but the pattern is still in development. While on Ravelry, I checked out the other 1,135 patterns for pet clothing (yes Ravelry has 1,135 patterns for pet clothing!) and was frustrated to discover that most dog sweaters are designed for dachshunds or yorkies, not for my muscle-bound staffy. Oh well, I didn’t want to knit Cici a sweater anyway.

As the hours passed by I continued to mull about the idea of a Cici sweater when I remembered I have some completely impractical white hand-me-down yarn in my stash. White and boucle – kind of like a sheep!  At Christmas my sister foisted a bag of yarn on me and said I should use it or give it away or something. It was a bag of quite nice boucle yarn, but not something I’m really interested in. When she gave it to me we were in the midst of family gathering chaos so there wasn’t much for me to do but accept it. But on Saturday I was happy I took it, as the wheels in my brain began to turn.

Then I remembered one other ball of yarn I had, that I didn’t necessarily want. One day a ball of bizarre pink and purple eyelash yarn showed up on our apartment. I questioned a friend of mine about it, since only she and our superintendent have keys to our apartment. Eyelash yarn didn’t seem to be what Simon, the Super would use, so it must have been left by our friend, but she claims it wasn’t her and blamed Cici for leaving the yarn. I decided that the yarn was not something I would ever use, but the frugal part of me kicked in and rather than throw it out, it got stashed away in a drawer.

So, bring all that background info together and the result was this completely impractical white sweater for Cici, with some lovely pink and purple trim. 

She loves it! (You can tell by the look of disdain on her face.)

The best thing about a dog, compared to a cat, is that a dog lets you play dress up with it. J

Two last thoughts… I’m very impressed with the fact that I was able to make up this pattern and it fits her perfectly, and I will never knit with eyelash yarn again.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And the Quilt Gets Tied

I’ve had some extra time on my hand this week, which I’ve used to tie the quilt. It isn’t difficult to tie a quilt, but it does take up some space in my “sewing room/office/everything else room” so I didn’t want to start this phase until I was sure I could finish it. In about an hour, the quilt should be all tied up.

I have a fantastic Q-Snap quiltingframe that my mother-in-law bought me years ago. It is the perfect solution for a quilting frame in a small space.

I’ve decided to tie the quilt with some wool, because I think the wool fibres should grab each other and felt up so the ties will not easily slip out. (And because I love wool!)  I found a wonderful skein that comes in the perfect mix of greens and purples.

And one final photo… While Cici was greatly afraid when the quilt frame made its debut, she is highly in favour of snuggling up with the work in progress.

Next up, sewing on some binding strips.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Peril of Lace Knitting

As mentioned, I’ve been working on a lace cardigan lately. Lace comes with some challenges:
  • For true lace, the yarn is very fine (as in thin) which can be more difficult to work with than a substantial thick yarn
  • Lace patterns have lots of “yarn overs” and “knit X sts together” which can be hard to memorize, so the pattern must be constantly at hand
  • Checking the gauge isn’t as simple as just knitting up a swatch and getting out the ruler, since the lace must be properly blocked to determine its true measurements

As I started the cardigan I dutifully knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it. It was too small. So I pulled out a larger needle and dutifully knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it. It was too big. So I pulled out an in between sized needle and knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it and it was just right. It took a few days to get through all those blocking stages, but in the end I was happy with the result.

Here are the three swatches. I do think the middle one is just right.

Now that I’ve noted the challenges, let’s get to the peril:
  • The true peril of lace knitting is that when you drop a stich, or make another mistake in knitting, it is nearly impossible to pick that stich back up, or rip back your knitting to a point where the mistake is easily recovered from.

I discovered this last night. I had knit half of the second sleeve when I noticed I was short one stich in the row I was on. I counted my stitches, counted again, and again, and again, and I was definitely short a stitch. I could see exactly where the stitch should be, but I couldn’t see how to get that one stitch back. I tried one way and it didn’t look right. I tried a second way and it didn’t look right. I puzzled and puzzled and then I gave up. I yanked out the needle and pulled out a solid week’s worth of knitting and the second sleeve was no more.  Grrrr... so frustrating.

There is a solution to this problem. It is called a lifeline. The theory is that if you put a thread through a row of stitches you know are correct, it will hold those stitches in place and be your lifeline so that when you have to rip out your knitting to correct a mistake, you only have to go back as far as your lifeline where you will be able to easily pick up the stitches. I know that lifelines are good, as you can see with the two white lifelines that I’ve put into the body of my sweater.

But did I use a lifeline in the second sleeve?  Nooooo, I got cocky. I knit the first sleeve perfectly, so why waste time putting in a lifeline when I could easily knit the second sleeve just as perfectly. (Not)

Oh well, I’ve got many knitting hours ahead and the sweater will get done. (But not this weekend.)

I’ve been so frustrated with the lace sleeve debacle that I turned my thoughts to other random ideas and I’ve stepped over to the dark side and started this new project.

I’m not prepared to tell you what this is yet, but it starts off with some eyelash yarn (shudder!)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lobster Fest! (a hot night for Larry)

We bought Jacob 3 new pets today. We named them Larry, Larry and Larry just in case they were offended if we couldn’t tell them apart.
Cici reluctantly met the lobsters, but mostly she just cowered in the corner.
She was wise to keep her keep her distance as it wasn’t long until Larry, Larry and Larry got into things, and soon a lobster knife fight broke out.
In the end, things didn’t go so well for the lobsters. What they thought was a hot tub turned out to be a bit more than they bargained for.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Big Projects (and a bit of a vent about KnitPicks)

I’ve got a couple of big projects on the go right now, which doesn’t make for interesting blogging fodder. Sure I could post a nice step by step tutorial of my projects which would give me regular posting material, but sadly I’ve got a lazy streak that prevents me from taking that approach.

In the past few weeks, I’ve made some good progress on my quilt. I’m just about ready to put on the final border that will finish the top. Here are the border pieces working themselves together.

Here is the rest of the quilt top in its current state.

When I’m not sewing, I’ve usually got my butt on the couch watching TV and knitting (that’s the lazy I spoke of.) I’m working on a lace cardigan that is coming along nicely, albeit slower than a pair of mittens or socks.  It is difficult to find a good way to photograph lace in progress.

And now on to KnitPicks…

If you’ve been reading my blog you will know that I am a huge fan of KnitPicks. I love their website, love their catalogue, love their prices, consider their quality acceptable, and respect that they give independent designers a professional sales outlet. All that said, my KnitPicks shopping days are now behind me. Here is my vent, to tell you why.

On February 2, my credit card was used fraudulently. If you know me well, you will know I’m obsessed with our finances, and check my bank statements on a daily basis. I was checking our accounts one night when I noticed that someone had been doing some shopping down in Florida. While I wished it was me, I knew I was stuck in Ontario, in the midst of a Canadian winter. My husband immediately called the bank, and they identified that the fraud occurred on my card, not his. (Darn – he’s been enjoying that part of the story way too much!). The bank asked if I do any shopping online. I said, “only KnitPicks and they couldn’t be the problem.” So, my credit card was cancelled and I waited a week or so for a new one to arrive. We’ve had to cover the charges on our card, for purchases we didn’t make. I’m certain the bank will reimburse us, but we haven’t seen the money from them yet, so as of now we are out $564.

Since then, we’ve been wondering where my card might have been left vulnerable… until this weekend. Thanks to the wonders of social media, I discovered that KnitPicks unwittingly disclosed their customers’ personal info including names, credit card numbers, home addresses and phone numbers. They discovered this error on January 25, when they filed the necessary paperwork, but did nothing to notify their customers. They claim they do not store customers’ credit card info, but clearly they did store the info and left it vulnerable.

I have no way of knowing if the KnitPicks breach was responsible for my case of fraud, but judging from what I’ve learned this weekend, it seems highly likely. Social media has been alive with discussions of the KnitPicks situation. Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry, have hundreds of knitters stepping up to say the cards they used at KnitPicks had to be cancelled due to fraud. In all cases it was a similar pattern of small charges being made that added up to several hundred dollars.

The folks on social media all shared the same thoughts that it was appalling that KnitPicks did nothing to notify their customers and continued to stay silent in the midst of all the social media conversations. Eventually the President spoke up last night and posted ablog addressing the matter. Well, he addressed the matter for US customers, but did not make any mention of customers from Canada, or other countries. This, of course, caused more stirrings, so eventually he updated the blog post to say that letters of notice will be sent to Canadian customers.

While I understand that fraudsters can attack any company and KnitPicks is one of the victims of this fraud, I can’t stand loyal to a company that handled the situation the way they did. They stored my information unsecured; when they discovered this, they stood silent. If they would have told me about my card being compromised on Jan. 25, I would have cancelled it and it wouldn’t have been useable on Feb. 2. The fact that they are just now getting around to producing a communication to their Canadian customers is just rubbing salt into the wound.

I’m sure KnitPicks has learned from this lesson and will be secure in the future, but after this experience it seems stupid to willingly give my money to such an irresponsible company. Sadly, I will shop KnitPicks no more.

(Meredith – this means more in-person yarn shopping is in our future!)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cici Snow Photo Shoot Failure

It is a gorgeous day outside, today in Toronto. Yesterday we had the "worst storm in 5 years"! All they can do on the news is talk about the horrid snow fall, and all the trauma the city went through. As usual, Torontonians are over-reacting to a little bit of white stuff. There is all of 20 cm out there, which is alot for one dumping, but not so bad compared to some of the damage being done by Nemo on the East Coast.

I decided to take advantage of the snow to get some nice winter shots of Cici. Unfortunately, Cici is too much of a princess to stand in the snow, so the photo shoot was a failure. I'll share the photos with you anyway.

I started by tricking Cici to run into the untrampled snow, by throwing a snow ball to fetch. When she realized what was happening, she immediately ran back out of the snow. All I got was a blurry dog photo.

Then she stood on the clear sidewalk and glared at me.

So, I dragged her back into the deeper snow, and she immediately ran away from me.

Here she stands near the sidewalk wondering why I am still standing in the deep snow.

My next trick was to move to a different part of the yard, with slightly whiter snow and better lighting. I dragged her into the snow and tried to get her to stay. She reluctantly stayed for about 3 seconds.

Here she is giving up on me and starting to run away.

Only time she stood still for a photo was after she ran halfway up to the door, and looked back to see if I was still standing like a lunatic in the snow.

So much for getting some winter photos of her.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Mittens Finished!

I'm pretty impressed with myself right now. (not very modest, but can't have it all!)

I decided on January 10, that I could knit a pair of mittens in January. I also decided to make a fully lined pair, with is basically knitting two pairs of mittens. As of last night at 10 pm, I finished them! Yay!

They are made from KnitPicks Palette, in Oregon Coast Heather and Bison colours. The lining is made from KnitPicks Gloss, which is a nice wool/silk blend that should feel nice to the hand. The lining colour is Bordeaux. I love how the Bison and Bordeaux colours work with the subtle mix of colour in the Oregon Coast Heather.

Now I just hope the rest of the winter goes by without a day that is cold enough to wear lined mittens!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

QR Code Mittens

I’m in a blog rut today. It has been a week since I posted, so I want to give you something new, but I got nuthin’. 

I did finish the mittens a posted about a couple of weeks ago, but just the mitten shell, not the lining. I want to wait until they are completely finished, before I post about them. Other than working late, and working on those mittens, I haven’t done much. I did do some baking (and trading) yesterday, but we ate most of it before any pictures were taken.

So, I’ve decided to look back and post a picture of some mitts I knit back in November as a Christmas gift. I have a friend who appreciates things that are a bit on the nerdy side, so I decided to knit her some custom QR Code mittens.

I drafted a custom design that includes four QR codes – her first and last names, and two words that describe her. They were fun to knit and hopefully not too nerdy for her to wear out in public.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back to Beading - First Necklaces of 2013

This week has been busy, but I’ve fit in a bit of time to do what pleases me. I finished one mitten, but the idea of knitting another and lining both, by my false deadline of the end of January, is daunting.

I have the desire to wear something with colour to work tomorrow, so I decided to go for something with purple in it. This, of course, led me to thoughts of my beads and the fact that I had some purple beads looking to be made into a finished product.

I had two sets of purple beads that were intended for one project. When I looked closer I saw that one type needed to be put on string or wire, and the other needed jump rings. I couldn’t figure out how to bring the two together, so I decided to make two necklaces. I made them so they could be worn together, or on their own.

The jury is still out on these. I can’t decide if I like them enough to wear them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pre-Golden Globe Goodness

A bit of a extra mini post for today....

We are getting ready to settle into the Golden Globes, so we have a tiny feast planned.

Some chili and guacamole (inspired by Dina Pugliese).

I'll add in a margarita and be ready to watch the Golden Globe arrivals and awards!

Finshed Pillow and First False Deadline of 2013

I’ve fallen ill to startitis lately, and I now have too many projects on the go. I was determined to finish something this weekend, so yesterday I slept in (priorities!) and then I hopped out of bed and finished the pillow I was embroidering. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

First False Deadline of 2013

Being a sucker for a possible prize, I decided I NEED to make a new pair of mittens by the end of January, to participate in a little contest on Ravelry. I get bonus entries if the mittens are lined, and of an “ethnic” nature. All of that collided into starting these mittens.

I plan to line then, and the pattern is influenced by traditional Latvian patterns, so I think I can get all the bonus entries I’m striving for. Mostly, I just wanted to make a pair of lined mittens for myself, and I figure it is better to do that before the winter ends. (Although given the wonderful double-digit temps this weekend, winter may already be over!)

I was also desperate to use the Oregon Heather Palette I had in my stash. I photographed the mitten start outside, hoping the natural light would help me catch the beautiful colours in this yarn. It is an incredible combination of blues, reds and yellows against a sandy brown base. So beautiful, when the sun brings out the colours. Here’s a close-up of the yarn.

What’s Next?

Now I should be sitting down to knit, but I’m off to the grocery store to buy some avocados. I’m easily influenced, and @DinaPugliese posted on Twitter that she is having guacamole with the Golden Globes tonight, and now I NEED guacamole too!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Back to Basics - Embroidery

As noted in my last post, I need to sew a pillow for our couch. The requirements were simple – removable cover for washability; something that looks good on the brown leather couch; and preferably fake suede, since that is the material the last pillow was made from, that we have loved to death.

As part of the New Year’s shopping adventures, Cathy and I hit Fabricland which was a fine place to find a cheap piece of fake suede. I picked out a nice camel coloured piece and expected to have a pillow that looked plain but functional.

The more I thought about it that was just too plain. I contemplated adding some tucks for visual interest, but that didn’t quite do it for me. After giving it more thought, and being thwarted by not having enough yarn to start a specific knitting project, I came up with a plan… embroidery. Embroidery is probably the first needlework my mother taught me how to do. It is quick and easy to learn. It can be used for a simple embellishment, or to create a grand, artistic masterpiece. (In this instance, I’m going for simple embellishment.)

After a quick trip to Mary Maxim yesterday, and I was equipped with a $.49 bit of embroidery floss that is helping me turn this…

Into this…

Here is a close-up of the detail. A simple chain stitch applied in a swirling pattern.

 Tonight I’m taking my new stock pot out for a run, and making a pot of beef barley soup. I hope it is good, because I doubled the recipe, just to justify using the stock pot!