Thursday, September 27, 2007


I find it both alarming and comforting that the time has come to begin Christmas knitting. Sorry. But, yes, Christmas is in 88 days. Sorry. Yes, I hate me, too, right now.

I have started some Christmas knitting, in the form of a pair of socks and a scarf. Neither of those recipients bother with this blog, so they don't need to be stealth-knit. But first, I've been doing some knitting for me.

For a while, I've been wanting a sleeve that I can slip my laptop into, to protect it from bumps and scratches. So I flipped through the first Barbara Walker Treasury book and looked for something that would be nice and cushy. I decided on the double basketweave, and chose a yarn that was kind of the starting seed of my stash. I fell in love with the colours at the time, but didn't have enough for a big project, and too much for a single small one. It's JJ's wools, bought at Romni Wools, on Queen West.

I did three repeats of the pattern across, some ribbing at the ends, and just knit until it was deep enough when folded in half. While I was knitting, I wasn't too crazy about the stitch pattern, and was always on the verge of ripping it all out. But once it was all finished and seamed and wrapped snugly around the laptop, it turned out to be pretty cute after all. I'm happy with it, at least.

The other ME project is something I've had on my mind since last winter. Once the weather turns cold, I find that every afternoon around three o'clock, my hands start to freeze. The rest of me is fine, and everyone else in the office is fine, too. I don't know if the buliding really does drop a few degrees, or if my blood sugar is taking the mid-afternoon plummet. Either way, cranking my heater seems like overkill. So I made myself these.

These are knit in Bernat Natural Blends Alpaca, using a free downloadable pattern from They took me just a couple of days - a very satisfying little project. I almost look forward to chilly afternoons now. Almost.
Tonight it's back to the Christmas knitting. It's good to have another pair of socks going.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Things and New Socks

First off, I just wanted to point out a couple of nifty new-ish things here on the old blog. The top thing there in the sidebar on the right is my 'shared items' from Google Reader. I read quite a few blogs, including some 'making your life easier through geekery'-type things, and I mark a lot of them, meaning to go back and look at them again, and maybe put some things in place. Google Reader does something kind of fun, in that it lets you make this little gadget here, with items you've chosen to share. So these are links to tips and articles that I thought more people might like to know about. People who are unwilling to devote scads of time reading these sorts of things. This makes me feel a little more productive, anyway.

The much more exciting addition is a little farther down there. It's a gadget from Ravelry, showing the progress bars for all my WIPs. (note: if you are blocked from accessing Ravelry because of a firewall or filter, you won't be able to see anything other than the title. I did start a little bit of a ranting little entry on the injustice and lack of trust inherent in such filters, but then came to realise that that's just not such a good idea. Ahem. )

Anyway - I was lucky enough to get one of these when Casey (Ravelry's superhero code monkey) was testing them out and asked for some guinea pigs. It was a very limited offer, so you can't get them now, but I'm sure it will be an option for everyone once Ravelry's all up and running out of beta. Things are growing by leaps and bounds over there, and the little errors and inconsistencies are being thoroughly weeded out. It's great to see the community growing so quickly, and so well. I do worry about how the whole place might change when there are a few thousand more folks, but I hope that things will only get better. They are knitters (and crocheters) after all.

In non-virtual knitting news, I did indeed finish up my stripey, plain 'ol socks and sent them off to a good home. I wasn't entirely happy with them - I always get a bit frustrated when I do not master a new skill straight off. But they are foot-shaped and stripey and cheerful, so I will not worry about slightly off-kilter heels and a too-long foot. Much.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More fun with pictures

Just playing around with a little video site. Enjoy!

Edit: D'oh. Meant to tell you how this came about. This is from Animoto, a site that takes your pictures and music (or music they provide) and puts together a music video-ish movie. A 30 second video is free, and a full-length one costs $3. I learned about this through Photojojo's weekly newsletter, which also told me about a promotion. If you sign up by today, you get credit for a free full length video. You have to sign up through Photojojo's site for the free video, though, so click on through if you're interested.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Joys (and sorrows) of Giving

Tomorrow, I'm headed down to Niagara Falls, to attend the wedding of a friend. The wedding is being held in Eastdell Estates winery, in, of course, "the heart of wine country". I love any opportunity to get back to the Niagara region, and I hope to have lots of wonderful pictures to share. And wine. Which may or may not be shared.
The couple getting married are one of those hard-to-buy for couples, as they've already got an established house. So I wanted to get them something useful, but a bit different. Something unique and beautiful. I clicked my way over to Etsy, and found the perfect thing.

This is from oladesign, on Etsy. As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it. I almost ordered two of them.

I think maybe I should have. Because it's just as beautiful in person as it was on the website.
The set was a little bit smaller than I thought it would be, but that was more my mistaken assumptions than anything. The colours are just as vivid, and the scale makes it almost cute, but definitely not 'cutesy'.

The box isn't wrapped yet. Just sayin'.

In yarny news, I've still dealing with this new sock addiction. I can't seem to function if I don't have one on the needles. I've done three pairs so far - the first was toe-up feather and fan, the second was a pair of Jaywalkers, and the third was the lace-ish monkey pattern. I decided it was about time for me to do a plain-Jane, normal sock, with no frippery. Perfect for a self-striping yarn.

I'm really enjoying knitting this. Not worrying about following a stitch pattern is giving me the opportunity to really pay attention to the architecture of the sock (sockitecture?) and understand better how all these instructions work together to make a three dimensional sock, complete with heel flap and gusset and whatnot.
And! These will be my first socks that will not be all for me. When I started them, they were going to be mine, but I've come to understand that there is someone who needs them more than me. And so I am happy to know now that these will be handed over to someone who really, really needs handknit comfort right now. You may know who you are.
Having a recipient in mind makes the knitting more joyful for me. Of course, it also makes me more critical of my small errors, but I'm hoping that blocking will help with that. (I've never blocked a sock before, though, so who knows?) The cheerful stripes are multiplying quickly, and I hope to have the first sock done, and the second well started by the end of this weekend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Great Time on a Great Lake

It's probably about time I finished up with my Labour Day tales.

On Sunday, aside from giving long-hidden gifts to (late!) babies, I also got the chance to go to a country fair and to go sailing for (I think) the first time in my life.

The fair was the Harrow Fair, one of the biggest agricultural fairs in the area. We got there late in the last day of the fair, so we missed out on some of the displays and exhibits, but we still got to see some interesting critters.

I had no idea feathers could be curly.

Pheasants are pretty! (and shy)

Yellow pheasant

The gaze of a chicken can be intimidating.
Cock a doodle hello there

If there was any yarn about, we missed it, sadly. We did see some sheep, but they weren't saying anything useful.

After wandering for a bit, and having the requisite grease and sugar in the forms of fresh fries with malt vinegar and fresh squeezed lemonade topped with chunks of strawberry, we headed to nearby Colchester harbour, and waited for Jodi's parents to sail in from the lake on the Dolphin.

The Dolphin

We clambered aboard, both Jodi's mum and I casting nervous glances at Jodi's midriff. Jodi's mum declared that we were not going far from shore, in case of the sudden development of anything like labour pains.

Rocks and light

It turned out that there really wasn't enough wind to do any decent sailing. But we had a very nice time just kind of tooling around near the shore of Lake Erie.

Near and far

This was a great way to end the summer. And in a lame effort to tie in some kind of fibre content, I learned that the sails have little pieces of yarn tied all over, to give you an idea of how the air is moving.

Sail and sky

Everyone loves yarn.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Less Stuff is Good

My decluttering has taken an important step - a lot of stuff has actually left the house. Three big, blue Ikea bags full of stuff were dragged out to a friend's parents' minivan. Of course, when the stuff doesn't leave immediately, there is inevitably some culling, and a few books and knickknacks escaped the slaughter. But the far greater portion were sacrificed for the greater good of space and order.

I got rid of many things that tied me to paths untaken. Textbooks from the education preparing me for the career I'm no longer interested in. And tools and supplies from the many, many craft projects that fell by the wayside. I threw away drawing charcoals, fabric pieces, paper ribbon, pottery tools and clay, cross stitch kits, and a soap making kit. In the bags were also failed decor projects, like Ikea mirrors, cd racks, ceiling fan chain charms , paper lamp shades, Christmas novelty plates and candle holders.

I thought about taking some pictures, but that would have meant spreading out the debris and looking at it again, which, I am sure, would have meant my finding reasons to keep a few more things.

So, instead, here's a picture of my little fur monster.

He approves of the decluttering, too. More room for yarn, says we.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Labour Day Hijinks Continued

Sunday was another great day. It started with my finally getting to give this.

Wild Stripes Blanket

When Jodi told me she was expecting, I started to look for the perfect blanket pattern for her baby. Jodi likes strong, bold colours, and tends toward the non-traditional. So I didn't want to make anything in pastels or neutrals.

Boy, howdy did I find an alternative.

Wild Stripes

Pattern: Wild Stripes Blanket from Knitty's summer 2005 issue.

Changes: None, really. The yarn was Knit Picks merino style, as called for in the pattern. I love these colours, and the yarn is lovely to work with. The knitting, which I though was taking forever somewhere around the middle, was really straightforward. Maybe even a little coma-inducing, if it weren't for the frequent changes in colour. My size turned out to be a bit bigger than the pattern said it should be, but still a very good size. The backing is a slightly heavy cotton, from Fabricland. I chose to use the green piping to match.
Wild Stripes

The sewing of the knitted portion to the fabric backing and through the piping was rather brutal. But I knew if I put it down, I'd never pick it up again, so I began one Saturday morning, and finished late that night. The embroidery, which I thought would take only a couple of hours (I'm kind of dumb that way) took another few days.

But I do love the way it turned out in the end. Totally worth the time and boredom and pain.

Speaking of pain, I am suffering an aggravating end-of-summer cold, and I am a wimp about being sick. So I'm going to bed - further Labour Day adventures to come!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Party with the Babies

This was a good way to finish off the summer. I spent this weekend down in Windsor and environs, spending lots of time with friends, and a bit of time with family.

On Saturday, my high school gang of friends met up for a wee shindig at Carly's house, where we got to pass around the babies and the cookies. Sometimes both at the same time.

What am I supposed to do with this?

The bigger kids were eager to help with the more difficult tasks, like eating.

Caiti helps John out

And boy, the twins are getting big so fast!

Jay and Emily

Their dad's pretty much the same size as before.

Tomorrow, my day in southern Essex county!