Monday, December 13, 2010

Fa-la-la-la-la, cough-cough-cough-cough

I've often thought there should be a statutory holiday sometime around the beginning of December. You know, a day off to wrap presents, bake cookies, or bust out the glue gun and glitter. Winter Craft Day? Craftorial weekend? Maybe I've dreamed of this blessed day off a few too many times because I seem to have contracted a cold in order to make this dream come true.

Unfortunately, recuperation and "whirlwind of holiday preparations" do not exactly go hand in hand. To make matters worse, Toronto is in the middle of a cold snap and it's -26ºC [-15ºF) with the wind-chill. I am NOT going outside. I'm also not planning on wasting any more energy than what it takes to make a pot of herbal tea. It's a good thing I've already spent the last couple of days wearing my Martha hat in the kitchen.

We're having a cookie swap at the office and I went a little crazy.

I used a recipe from the holiday issue of Martha Stewart Living and they turned out pretty darn good. We're exchanging a half dozen of each others cookies, and 10 of my co-workers will be taking this little selection home:

Each your heart out Cake Boss! You're not the only one to tame a piping bag!

So with baking behind me, an unseasonable cold outside and an unreasonable cold in my chest, it sounds like a good day to curl up with some movies and knitting, non?

Okay, so most of my knitting is gift related and therefore, unbloggable. Can I distract you with this pretty snowflake? My ongoing obsession with crocheted snowflakes continues (don't even get me started about my pinecone obsession). My crochet skills have vastly improved since last year's attempts and this Phildar Sunset practically leaped off the shelf begging to be crocheted into little flakies. Who am I to I deny a sparkly French yarn?

So there you have it folks. I must say, it IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas.





Friday, December 10, 2010

Knitters' dream home

If you're staying up till the wee hours trying to finish your holiday gift knitting, you just may experience hallucinations like these:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thrumbelina

I am not ashamed to admit that these mittens are the result of both peer pressure and blatant plagiarism.


As someone who is lucky enough to work in an office where people sit around and knit at the lunch table, I always get to to check out my co-workers projects. For whatever reason, the cool thing to knit these days is thrum mittens. Naturally I had to join in.

Pattern: Mid west style thrum mittens from No Sheep for You
Yarn/ Fibre: Fibrepalooza Wool/Cashgora blend (undyed) & Schoppelwolle Fingerwolle pencil roving
Needles: 3.75 mm (I intended to switch to 4 mm after the ribbing but I forgot. I'm glad I didn't though because they're a perfect size!)
Notes/Mods: Obviously, my mittens are not "no sheep" like in the book. I added thrums to the thumbs (thrum-thumbs!) even though the stitch count doesn't fit the thrum pattern repeat. I fudged it to make it work. Why leave your poor thumb out in the cold?

The cozy thrum-y interior. Mmm!

As for the plagiarism, that was somewhat sub-conscious. Given the thrum tradition originates in the maritimes I thought my souvenir Nova Scotia yarn would be perfect for my mittens. When it came time to pick out roving for the thrums I thought I was a genius for choosing rainbow-bright fibre to really pop with that neutral yarn. I somehow forgot that I'd seen my friend and co-worker Jen wearing thrum mittens in that exact colour combo last year.

Enh? Whatever. They're awesome mitts, I don't care if I didn't invent them! Hey,when it comes to knitting, I don't mind being a sheep (groan!).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Royal Deutsche Baug

Every year I think; "Hey, I should go to the Royal!" and then I realize it's mid December and the fair happened three weeks ago. Not this time, baby!

Cows!

Those are award-winning bums!
Butter sculptures!
Giant mutant vegetables!My hand is in there for scale, but feel free to admire my new Axxium mani.

Sheep petting!


Hilarious signs!


Superdogs!
The Superdog show was more fun than I thought. I expected a tightly rehearsed show-dog type scenario and instead witnessed a canine version of a hockey tournament where the pups routinely decided to ignore the rules and do their own thing. That's right, doggies! Don't let those trainers boss you around!

Your fun at such an event is closely tied to your choice of companion:


I believe I chose wisely. This dapper young man is my brother and fellow enthusiast in farm fresh food, shopping and wine tasting.

Hey, braving those crowds makes you thirsty!

The Royal did not disappoint when it came to appealing to the fibre enthusiast either.

See an alpaca...


Buy some alpaca!


I had a good chat with one of the ladies at the Meadowview Alpaca stall and impressed her with my knowledge of northern Ontario landmarks. How often do you get to buy yarn from the person that raised the Alpaca?

My review of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair? Two thumbs up! I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend not leaving without some of the best got-dang maple butter tarts I've ever had.


Royally delicious!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Insult Injury to Injury

Last week I went to yoga class and thought; "Ow. There's something icky going on with my wrist". Several I-should-have-known-better plank/chaturanga/bakasana/and even headstands later, I was icing my wrist at home. But it wasn't the yoga that hurt me, my friends.

Ah, crochet. How I have learned to love thee. You're speed, your strength, your ability to evoke 70's afghan nostalgia. But you have scorned me crochet. Or perhaps I am the scorn...er?

I crochet like my Mum taught me. Like this:



I've been accused of crocheting "fancy". I crochet like an aristocrat, delicately sipping tea with a pinky finger extending from a glove-clad hand. The only problem with being fancy, is that it's often completely unnecessary, like shaving your legs and painting your nails and then sitting around the house in sweatpants all day. Why all the extra work?

My tendinitis (self-diagnosed) is a direct result of crocheting too fancy whilst attempting to finish this afghan before winter sets in:


After THREE FULL DAYS of no knitting, crocheting or yoga, I was ready to poke my eyes out. (Seriously, what do non-knitters do with their hands when they're watching 16 and Pregnant? They just SIT there?) After my few days of R.I.C.E. I allowed myself some very minimal knitting and started to learn a new way to crochet:



Things were looking up. Then this happened:

My first hospital bracelet since discovering my penicillin allergy 14 years ago!

Tendinitis, meet Ankle Sprain! I've lived in Toronto for 14 years and am lucky enough to have never before had cause to visit a hospital emergency room. I have heard nothing but horror stories of the obscene wait times at the E.R. As far as I was concerned, if you weren't bleeding to death from a gun-shot wound, don't even bother going to the hospital. Then I found myself in tears after walking the two blocks from the streetcar stop to my door. Speaking of streetcars, allow me to fill you in:

Internal monologue, Wednesday Nov 3rd:

8:15:00 am - Hey the, streetcar is coming!
8:15:30 am - The stoplight turned green! If I run I can totally catch that streetcar!"
8:16:00 am - I'm running! I'm gonna make it! Ow! I twisted my ankle! I'm still running!
8:16:30 am - Yeah! I made it! I should do ankle circles...
8:17:00 am - (Ankles circling) Meh, I'm good!

I was fine. Totally fine. No pain. No swelling. Until I got up to leave work at 5.

5:10 pm - Damn! Has this parking lot always been so big? This limp to the bus stop is taking forever.

A long and painful ride later, I found myself barely able to walk the two blocks to my door.

6:03 pm - (Crying on my stairs) S**t! I have to go to the emergency room!

True, I wasn't bleeding from a gunshot wound, but I know if pain is making me cry it's probably a good idea to seek medical attention. 2 hours later, I was back at home, using the ice-pack formerly applied to my wrist, to ice my newly diagnosed Sprained Ankle.

Lessons learned:

1 - Save your fancy for when it counts.
2 - Never run to catch public transportation.
3 - Toronto Western Hospital E.R waiting times are totally reasonable.
4 - Always keep an icepack in the freezer.

Place safe kiddos!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October Oval

The "October Oval" is complete!

Pattern: My own craftiwork inspired by the September Circle cowl.
Yarn: Zauberball Crazy (#1564 I think)
Needles: 4.5 mm
Notes/Mods: As I found this yarn at a yard sale and it was only a 90g ball, I wanted to make the most of my yardage. As a result, I didn't work any garter rows or other such anti-curling stitchery at either end. It curls like a Canadian at the Olympics, but it doesn't bother me too much.

Somebody left this fuzzy guy at a loading dock
around the corner. Ah, Kensington market.

Still looks sharp with a pumpkin too.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Baby Got Back

It's just about hat season, and this girl is ready:

Please excuse blurry photos!

A long awaited glorious finished knit!

Pattern: Brioche stitch hat from Patons Anti freeze
Yarn: Farmhouse yarns Andy's Merino (one skein)
Colour: Seabreeze
Needles: 5.5 mm
Notes/mods: My yarn is much finer that the yarn the pattern calls for, so I crunched some numbers and changed the gauge. The assembly is tricky. Tricky enough that you ask yourself "Am I doing this right?" the entire time. Trust the diagram.


Despite my successful assembly, the first time I took this hat out for a test run I found it constantly sliding down the back of my head. Blame the back-heavy style or my silky smooth hair (hah!) but it wasn't working for me. I ended up tightening the fit by sewing down some of the business in the back.

Yes, this hat has got some serious junk in the trunk. Me likey!

Has my nose always been a perfect triangle? What am I, a cartoon?

Yes I am.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ode to Sally

There is no arguing Mad Men has had a huge influence in fashion since it hit the airwaves. Where a decade ago we were deciding to be Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda or Carrie, now we're choosing between Betty, Peggy or Joan. I could never entirely decide which SATC character I identified with (I think I'm a Carrie/Miranda hybrid to be honest) so it's no wonder I'm looking beyond the leading ladies of Mad Men.

Don't cry, ballerina!

I think I'm a Sally. Okay, maybe I don't possess the personality of a little girl dealing with her parent's divorce, but damn! That little girl's got style!

Lil' plaid jumper? Don't mind if I do!

Mod print in bright fushia? Yes please!

I would totally wear that.

Gaawd! Don't you just wanna give her a hug?

Seriously, if my wardrobe looks anything like that of a Mad Men character, it's Sally's. Does that mean I dress like a prepubescent girl from the 60's?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Yarnucopia

Last weekend my bro and I packed up a rent-a-wreck and went back home for Thanksgiving for the first time in years. The Ottawa valley must have know we were comin' cuz she sure tarted herself up for the occasion.


Our ride was so full of ridiculously showy folliage we had to keep screaming "IT'S SO *$%#@ BEAUTIFUL!!!" It got to the point of ridiculousness when we saw the pumpkins for sale by the side of the road. Really? Really country side? A picturesque little farm selling pumpkins via the honour system from a little red wagon? You really are that quaint? Really? Are we on a movie set?

Naturally, we had to stop the car so I could snap pictures of knitting.


So just what is that bit of knitting kickin' it by the adorable olde tymey graveyard? Why it's a Crazy Zauberball of course! I've admired these colourful little balls of sock yarn from the first time I saw one, but being a self professed "not-a-sock" knitter I didn't see much point in picking one up. Then I found one... at a yard sale! (That was one helluva yard sale, but that's another story)

I looked up my groovy german friend on Ravelry to see what not-a-sock patterns people were making with these Zauberballs and fell pretty hard for this cowl:

Photo shamelessly stolen from MissVirginia on Ravelry.


It's the September Circle by Melissa LaBarre. I'm not really following the pattern so much as, well, let's be honest I'm ripping it off. I figured I didn't really need a pattern for such a thing. Let's call mine the "October oval".

I finally have more time for personal knitting and I'm itching to start a million projects. Hey, and with the universe handing me chance sock yarn and charming scenery to photograph I should be doing a lot more blogging too. Now that's something to be thankful for!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Going Coastal

Nova Scotia!

From top left: Lunenberg, olde-timey bench in Lunenberg, the most famous lighthouse in Canada,
Peggy's Cove, Fish n' Chips everywhere, the Bluenose II (I think!),
olde-timey suitcases we use that are easy to spot on the luggage carousel,
Halifax sunset, more Peggy's cove, sign at our
favourite airline, me in the "Oscar Wilde" room at the Waverly Inn,
place I kind of regret not buying a bag at, interesting thingamajig on the side of a building,
Lunenberg harbour, the still at
Ironworks Distillery.


This year the b.f. and I broke with tradition and headed east instead of north this summer. Our maritime trip marked my first time boarding a plane in Canada and landing in... Canada. No customs, no currency exchange, no culture shock: nice!

We had a super relax-y time, ate lots of seafood, read lots of books and I managed to finally get back to my Geodesic cardigan:

It's hard to take good pictures of your knitting in the midst of strong ocean breezes whilst being nibbled by mosquitoes.

Do you ever find yourself seeing knitting everywhere and thinking you're crazy?

Seeing this tree initially had me thinking I was a little too obsessed with knitting and was beginning to lose my grip on reality. Turns out, Halifax is just really cool.

I only managed to visit one yarn store on my trip, but it was enough to ensure I wasn't leaving the coast without yarn in hand.

The Loop is small but mighty, with a nice selection of high quality yarn. I was lookin' for real souvenir yarn that I wouldn't be able to find at home and was not disappointed:


I picked up two skeins of undyed wool/cashgora from Fibrepalooza. Yarn to make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside and the outside. Lovely! Too bad I was on the other side of the province - it looks like the Fibrepalooza farm would be a neat place to visit!

Lastly, a little handmade touch from the country house we stayed in:

Over the course of a week I became quite smitten with this rag rug.

Sigh. I feel like I blinked and summer is over. Cicadas are buzzing, the Ex is in town and I have an irrational urge to buy a new binder... autumn is coming! I'll try to console myself with dreams of fall/winter knits... mmm... sweaters.




Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stitch 'n' Pitch

I always seem to miss the annual Stitch 'n' Pitch event but 2010 took me out to the ballgame!



I wasn't leaving without a giant pretzel and a giant beer.

While I am far from what you would consider a baseball fan, there's something about sitting around with a bunch of knitters in a relatively un-knitter-ly place that makes me darn happy.


I was definitely in good company. My bud Jen came out and between the two of us we probably managed to catch about half the game. I was too busy checking out what everyone was knitting (my apologies to baseball fans, and players, everywhere). I did, however manage to catch the first pitch thrown by non other than the Yarn Harlot herself!

If you don't know who the Yarn Harlot is, you're probably not much a reader of knitting blogs, which forces me to question how you came to read these words in the first place. Regardless, her account of the experience is a great read.

What's this poking out of my souvenir goody bag? I needed some "dum-dum" knitting to take to the game and used this as an excuse to cast on something new.

While this Brioche Stitch Hat might be dum-dum knitting, it's the assembly that is far from stupid. Wish me luck that I can manage to put this origami-style hat together when the time comes!

The yarn? Some deliciously squishy Andy's Merino that has been stash-languishing for far too long. This stuff is so fun to knit it's flying off the needles!

Speaking of flying off, I'm off to the east coast tomorrow! I'll be spending a week with the b.f and his fam not far from Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can bet there will be much sea-side knitting!

Of course, this is week my cherry tomatoes have decided to start ripening. They will no doubt be perfectly ripe the week I'm away. Garhghh!

Off to pack my knitting!