Saturday, 20 August 2011

Catching some Zzzzz's

This is my 7 year old son.  He fell asleep on the couch during the afternoon - yet he thinks he's too old for naps, ha ha.  Yet, he fell asleep holding on to my kids book of knits, New Knits On the Block by Vickie Howell.  It made me laugh and think to myself that it almost looked like he planted the book there to hint for a particular gift, but that's not his style.  This was a gift from one of my clients, and has some awesome project to make for kids.  I love how it's all categorized in such a fun way - "weekend at Gramma's" for example, means you can knit that project up while your kid's away at Gramma's for the weekned.  I'll be casting on to make a rockin' guitar in black and red.  When I showed the pattern to another client of mine, she was so excited about it that she went out of her way to go get me the supplies I would need, including the stuffing!  That was so nice of her.  And this weekend, I'm doing something nice back for them...
This is the project I've just finished for her son.  It's a Crayon Caddy I've knitted as a big brother gift, because he became a big brother yesterday.  We were all so excited!  I'm going to deliver it tomorrow, but will make it a quick visit because they need their rest.  I am very happy with how this one turned out:  I used Bernat Handicrafter cotton, in green stripes.  He loves green, and it was so easy to make!  It's basically knit in stockinette for about 17 rows,  then garter stitch for the rest and fold over the stockinette for the front.  Then just sew together lines where you want the crayon sleeves to go.  I made an extra crocheted chain to loop around the button for an easy toddler closure.  Note:  I'm going to go back and shorten the chain a bit, so it's not a choking hazard.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Casting on today - Filigree

Today I'm casting on to knit with my magic yarn ball. A friend of mine came by to see if she can peek inside the yarn, curious as to what's inside. But no, this yarn is well wound. No peeking.

It was a close decision, between this and a really neat beret some of my ravelry buddies suggested (which I will knit later). I also was thinking of using this for a shawlette, as there is enough yardage. But instead I will knit Filigree mitts by Robin Melanson. It's from her book "Knitting New Mittens & Gloves". The pattern calls for cotton yarn, but doesn't actually mention the WPI/thickness of the yarn. I guess I could go over to ravelry (since I spend so much time there anyway) and look up their suggested yarn for gauge, but I feel daring today. So I will live a little risky and just start knitting it up with this fingering weight yarn and see how it comes out. After a few rounds, I will measure for gauge or just slip my wrist inside to see how it fits.

This colour is going to look amazing! And with the remaining yarn, I will make either a scarf for a cowl, whatever I have enough yardage for. I always say that, and then end up making another pair to give away. Oh, maybe if I only have a bit left, I'll make me a headband to cover my new botched haircut. :)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Time to Unwind Some Magic

Well, now it's my turn.  My magic yarn ball arrived in the mail this week, and it turns out my partner is Sassysmom.  This was a secret partner swap, and she was very good at keeping her identity a secret.  I had no idea it was her!  Here are some pictures of my little girl helping me unpack it from the box.

The color is a bit off in the photos, as we had just been taking sunset photos outside and I forgot to re-adjust my settings.

This yarn is a blue dream - lots of different shades of blues, as well as some purples mixed in.  Sassysmom actually got it bare from Knit Picks, then hand dyed it herself.  I just love hand dyed yarn, I find it such a joy to work with.
I spent a good deal of time staring at this yarn, trying to decide if I will unwind it all now to see what's inside, or get the 'real' experience of discovering each item as I knit... and call me silly, but I think that's the best part.  So, do I unwind it now, and see what's in there?  Or do I pick a pattern and see what comes out as I knit?  Decisions, decisions... what do you think?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Magic Yarn Balls

This summer, I participated in my first Magic Yarn Ball swap. 
I had a lot of fun getting my partner's yarn ball together for her, and she really liked her goodies.
I was pretty excited when I first heard about this:  you take a skein of yarn, buy some knitting notions, goodies, sweets, or just about anything you think you can manage to wrap inside the yarn ball, and wind the yarn around each item until it eventually resembles a ball.  Sure, it will be lumpy and bumpy, but for the most part it will look like yarn.  When your partner receives your magic yarn ball, the idea is that as they knit something with it, things are revealed as the ball unwinds... or so I thought.  In our swap group, everyone so far has been too excited to wait and actually knit with their yarn ball.  They are so thrilled to have it arrive that they immediately unwind it to find their little surprises, then wind it back into a ball.  I feel glad that my partner GuapaM got to unwind and find lots of great stuff, but I feel bad that she had to go through all that unwinding to find it. I'm talking all the way to the end of the yarn for that last item (custom large buttons from my local yarn store).  I ordered her a cone of fingering weight yarn, and according to the swap requirements we had to do a minimum of 100 grams.  I ordered 150 grams of yarn, but saved 15 grams for me to do a swatch with (for a future order).  Which left me with over 700 yards of yarn to wind, if I did my math correctly.  That took me quite a while to wind.  Here is what her yarn ball package looked like when it arrived there:
I sent her some of my favourite coffee from Tim Hortons, as well as a Noro Coffee Cup cozy that I knitted myself by hand.  I love knitting with Noro!  It's a pleasure knitting with this yarn, but it's even more fun to be able to give it away to someone who will enjoy using it.  This really does keep your coffee warm, and feels great to hold.  The Dare Bear Paws crackers are something I chose because my GuapaM likes crackers, especially cheddar;  and I was sure she hasn't tried these yet.  They are fairly new on the market.  Here is the other picture, which shows all the stuff she managed to unwind from her yarn ball:
I can't wait to see what she ends up knitting with the yarn I sent to her!  She is such a talented knitter.
Wait a second... that yarn looks like it's been wound up with a ball winding machine - now I don't feel so bad about making her unwind so much yarn, ha ha ha!  Not bad, eh?  Look how much stuff I had hiding inside that ball of yarn!  I think I've impressed myself, too.  Sadly, there was no way to wrap the cracker box in yarn.  If you can accomplish that, you have my greatest respect.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

August finished knitting #2

Ha ha ha, it looks like I mismatched the photos when I sent them in via email. Oops!
So this is the picute of the fingerless mitts I was just blogging about. The other picture in the previous post was of the Noro Kureon coffee cozy. It has become my favourite coffee cozy to make so far, and certainly the easiest. I love how it shows off the colours!

I made both of these for a friends birthday that was yesterday. She loves to drink tea, and also carries her own water bottle around. This cozy does a great job of insulating both warm and cold drinks.

I think she'll like them. I just have to weave in the ends and I'm all done!

Newly Finished Objects

I've just finished up 2 new projects this past weekend. One is a pair of fingerless mitts - the pattern is designed to show off malibrigo yarn, so I will try it again sometime with my beautiful malibrigo skein. For this one though, I chose to use Universal Yarns with gradual changes in green hues, with a tint of blue thrown in here and there. A blend of wool and acrylic, this yarn was easy to work with and I would be happy to try it again in other patterns that show off it's colours. I think I have just enough of it left to make one more pair of fetchings, and since my little girl kept wanting to try them on, I think I might make her some arm warmers for fall.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, 15 July 2011

Thanks Angela!

This is the really cool parcel I just got in the mail today from my friend Angela on Ravelry.
Here's my first item out of the box:  an awesome market bag! 

This bag is so cool, it's made of rectangles, and actually looks like it's somehow knitted together without seams.  I'm going to have to ask Angela how she did it.  My friend was visiting when I opened it up, and I thought she was going to try and leave with it!  She kept holding it and turning it around and around, checking it out.   I barely got to hold it, until I got her to take a photo of me holding it!  :)
Inside the bag was amazing blue yarn, with changing shades!  How does everyone else score so well in finding these shades?  I'm so spoiled! Angela could have easily ended it there and I'd be a happy camper.  But wait, there's more...
These blue stitch markers she gave me are a perfect match to my new yarn,
it's like yarn jewelry!
She didn't just spoil me, she also spoiled my kids.
Here is one of the books she gave Emma. 
There was also a Princess ABC sticker book, which Emma loved pointing to the letters she can name.
Evan got a cool Hot Wheels emergency vehicle, which is interesting to him because we had to call 911 the other day to help a nearby car collision.  We were first on the scene, and it was our first time calling 911.  Ok, I'll fess up - I actually called them when I was 6 years old to see if it really worked.  It did, and boy, did I ever get in trouble from daddy!  The kids also got sticker books, tattoo stickers, and water balloons!
Next out of the box were more goodies for me:  A shiny pair of scissors for my projects, a package of summer themed buttons (Emma and I played a matching game with the shapes already), some dpn holders, and wooden dpns.  Looks like a lot of them, eh?  That's right, I got spoiled...
I got so many dpns that I could make a peacock with them!  Angela was paying attention when I mentioned how I have gone from a one-at-a-time project knitter to a several-WIP's knitter.  This means that I would run out of dpns often and have to either finish a WIP to use the needles again, or get some stitch holders for my WIP's.  Now I can do lots and lots of fingerless mittens on the go!  One WIP in each purse, yay!
Poor Evan, thought these were for him.  In my defense, he already has a cool pair of camoflage slippers I bought him at a bazar last winter.  Now I have my own, and they are quite comfy! They are a darker blue than the camera is showing.
Last but not least, Angela was so kind!  She heard I had started a free beginner's knitting club at my local community centre, and donated this set of needles for their use.  Now that's paying it forward!
Thanks for all the goodies!

Learning to Spin at Joseph Schneider Haus

The Joseph Schneider Haus is a museum in downtown Kitchener. The staff dress up in their historically accurate clothing in a Georgian frame farmhouse built by one of our area's first pioneers, Joseph Schneider, back around 1816.  This is one of my favourite childhood field trip destinations as a child, and is not to be missed if you live around here.  It's a good tourism catch too, and very affordable with admission costing only $5 for a whole family!  That's for a guided tour, and these historians really know their local history!  Every week is a different theme which teaches about various aspects of what life would have been like back then. 
Last week's theme was Wool Processing.  I was lucky enough to hear about it on Ravelry, and was so thrilled!  I went over with a friend on Saturday, and was determined to finally learn how to spin, as they were to be giving demonstrations.  It was fantastic!  For a special treat, they had live sheep there in the front yard who were visiting from a local farm.
The little blue guy in the front is the flat traveler our family is hosting for a few weeks.  His name is Kyler, and he has traveled here from British Colombia.  All the people in Kitchener who have met Kyler have been very friendly to him, and he seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit.  We exchange these little characters and show them around our city, then send them home with souvenirs.

Here is me and my awesome friend, who was nice enough to put up with my yarn obsession, and didn't once during this trip threaten to send me to Knitters Anonymous.  Of course, I don't think I was actually knitting during this trip (though I probably did have a little project in my bag). 
After learning about how the Schneider Family would have sheared their sheep and washed their fleece, we were shown how they carded the fiber (forgive me if I forget what exactly the fiber is called at this stage).  The staff were so nice!  I actually got permission to participate with them, so here is a photo of me carding for the first time!
This spinning wheel is a replica of what the family of this house would have used.  I was thrilled to be given a quick lesson, and even more thrilled that they allowed me to give it a try for myself! 
I thought the foot pedal would be as easy as a sewing machine's foot, but I was wrong.  It was not easy for me to get it in to a rhythm, and then when I would have to stop to get my yarn twisting right I'd have to start the pedal going again.  But it was so much fun!  She even had a drop spindle for me to try. 

Look at me!

Spinning, all by myself!

It was so nice of my friend to come along and take photos - I'm sure they'll be making their way into my scrapbook!

And check this out!  This is called a Walking Wheel, because they would stand and walk back and forth in front of the wheel while spinning.  This was a No Touch item, but we did get permission to stand in front of it.

Now that I've given it a try, I have a much greater appreciation for hand spun yarns.  I already adored them, but I'm glad to have a new understanding of just how much work goes into a lovely hand spun yarn. 

I was so tempted to get myself a drop spindle when we left.  What a great trip!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Summer Swaps

I meant to mention this in my last posting, but I had already yapped enough for one post.
I usually don't knit in the summer, switching to scrap booking.  My friend says I do it backwards - that I should be knitting for winter in the summer, but I like to knit winter stuff in the winter.  It makes me feel cozier, but then no one really gets much time left to wear the things I make for them since they finally get them at the end of winter.  So this year, my goal is to finish the winter knitted gifts by the end of fall.  I haven't done much of it yet, to be honest, because I'm having too much fun knitting things for my swap pals in the summer swaps I've been participating in.  I'm also making a really cool Bri Bag for myself.  If I do a good job of it, I'd like to make one for others as well.

I had been participating in a yarn De-stash swap in June, but was unable to send out my parcel by the cut off date due to the mail strike.  So instead of selecting yarn for my partner from my stash, I ended up buying some nice for her online and buying her a pattern from her Ravelry Wish List.  I selected for her the Montego Bay scarf, and it looked so nice I will be adding it to my own list of patterns I'd like to try out.  I even bought some yarn for it, but I might not get to it till the fall.

We had secret partners for this swap, so I didn't know who's turn it was to spoil me.  Turns out it was Rosa, who sent me a great package!  She got me lots of goodies, including things I've had my eye on but didn't mention.  She must have Swapper's Intuition!  Here are some pics of us discovering the contents of Rosa's swap package.

Here is Emma shaking the card up and down to make the googly eyes go all googly. 
Shown to the left is a special dessert treat Rosa sent for us to make together. 
This will be fun, as my kids love to make pudding!

And here is a photo of the actual card.
 See the cute little eyes?
For the pattern, this was a perfect fit for me!  I've been wanting to knit this one ever since I first saw it on Ravelry.  I don't know if I've actually added it to my queue list yet or not, but I can't wait to get it started.
And guess what?  The perfect yarn for this Girlfriend Market Bag arrived along with it!  I'm going to LOVE knitting this bag, and will post pictures when it's all done.  Such nice yarn, eh?  I haven't seen any of this yummy stuff around my neighbourhood yarn stores.  Maybe I'll have to put in a request...

Now for this swap, all that was required was yarn and a pattern.  Rosa went above and beyond, sending me lots of goodies to go with the yarn.  Here are some the extra goodies she spoiled me with:
inside a pretty little sachet were 2 lovely pearl stitch markers, 6 cool looking triangle stitch markers (they will fit nicely on my dpns), and 2 awesome boots that I call my knitting socks.  I tell the kids they help keep my needles warm when I'm not using them.  These socks come in so handy, you can never have enough!  I wish they would make mini ones for my dpns - I have those green and purple cone shaped ones, but they aren't as fun.
Another goodie I've been dreaming of, that I was spoiled with, is this absolutely amazing tool from Knit Picks.  It's an emergency fix keychain for when you accidentally drop a stitch.  When you are out and about, and haven't brought all your knitting tools with you, this comes in very handy!  I just saw this one on our Happy Blue Year group discussion thread, and thought to myself how neat it would be to actually have one of these.  And now I do!  Yay!
Now for the last picture, I present to you my son Evan, who is teaching me how to wear my yarn buns like Princess Leia.  Thanks again Rosa, for spoiling me completely!  Hope you had fun de-stashing!

Summer is On!

I have to admit, this summer is way busier than I expected it to be.
I figured most of my clients would be taking turns going away, and I wouldn't be busy enough.  Wrong.
The number of people wanting me to watch their kids for the summer surprised me, flattered almost.  A few people had to be turned down, as I'm careful not to go over my numbers.  But this blog is not about work, so here I come with the newest on my knitting adventures...

Last week I got to visit 2 local yarn stores in one week!
This first one is Shall We Knit, in Waterloo.  This so far has been my favourite yarn store.  Ok, so it sort of counts as a new store.  They had previously been set up in New Hamburg, a nearby town.  Now they have moved to Waterloo, they have a larger store with much more yarn than I had seen at their old location.  My first time there, I embarrassed myself so badly that I don't think I'll be able to go there again without a bag on my head.  See, I had been waiting and waiting to go there, and every day when I'm finally done work they are usually closed.  Or when I am done before they close, my hubby is still at work so I can't leave the kids at home.  This was one of those days, and I really wanted to get some Noro yarn for my swap pal in the US (the machine washable one).  I love how it changes color so nicely, and it's pretty much the only yarn I can get my hands on here that will do a striated color change, aside from one sock yarn.  So I packed up my kids and went to the yarn store.  They are usually fairly well behaved when shopping, except that they love to ask me to buy them this and that, etc.  I had a special trip planned for the kids, and we were just going to pop in here first on our way.  But while we were in the store, my children suddenly stopped behaving.  They kept interrupting me when I was trying to question the staff, and my daughter kept wandering off when I was in the middle of reading a yarn label.  Twice she reached their sink and sampled the soap (she loves to wash her hands).  They were not impressed.  In fact, even though I spent over a hundred dollars there (which I likely wouldn't have spent so much without the kids there, but I couldn't think straight), they seemed very impatient with me by the time I was ready to pay for my purchases.  They also seemed relieved when I left the store, and didn't bother to even say 'thanks for coming', or 'come again'.  When I said that next time I will come alone, they barely even acknowledged my comment.  I felt so embarrassed.  If I didn't have my mind set on getting something special for my swap pal, I would have gladly left without purchasing anything.  I don't usually let my children get away with poor shopping manners, and the rest of their special trip was cancelled.  I thought a few minutes at the yarn store would have been a great pick me up, as it usually is.  This time, it actually felt worse having gone there.  The only good thing was that I was able to get a fantastic yarn and some nice goodies for my pal.  As well as some yarn to make her special project with (which I forgot to take a photo of).  Now I'm not sure what kind of a reception I will get next time.

A few days later, I had the opportunity to go with a friend (no kids this time) to a spinning demonstration downtown, so while we were there we hit the Kitchener Market where I got my first glimpse of Yarn Indulgences.  That was a nice pick me up.  We had a great time at the spinning thing (more on that later), and visiting the market was a great experience!  What a perfect name for the store!  And I have to say, the staff there were very friendly and helpful.  I picked out some buttons for my button swap, and some yarn for a scarf I hope to make.  Fantastic shimmering yarn!  It was sunny out, too, just what I needed.  A perfect morning - spending time with my friend, learning to spin, and discovering a new yarn store.  The afternoon went just as well - I spent the rest of the day with my family doing things our kids chose.  A wonderful day.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Waterloo Park

I haven't been here since last summer.  You'd think with it being just a short drive away, I would go here more often.  I really should.  My kids love it, and the pace is so nice and relaxing.  Just walking about, letting my kids explore, and when I bring my camera I take a few hundred photos.  After taking that little photography course last winter, I should have been taking photos every week to not forget what I had just learned.  But after a windy photo session, I noticed my aperture was stuck.  There is something catching in the gears.

Thankfully, Nikon has a 5 year warranty on their lenses.  I kept putting it off, but I finally went to Henry's on Friday to see if it was as easy as they said to send away my lens.  Even though I didn't purchase it there, I brought in my lens and my receipt.  They filled out a form on the computer, printed me off a shipping receipt, and away it goes.  Hmmm, wait a minute.  What about the postal strike?  I didn't even think to ask them how they are getting it to Nikon to be fixed.  I wonder if they have a private service, or if it will be in limbo until the strike is over?  I guess I'll have to wait and see.

So I brought my zoom lens to the park, which means no portraits of the kids in 50 mm.  But still good for brushing up my rusty skills.  Here's a couple I think came out alright.

We thought it was very amusing when the swan came this close to us.  A little too close for comfort, though, as I remember the last time a swan chased us for our corn bread!  We no longer snack while watching large birds.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

March Side Swap

It's arrived!  Now that I know my partner has her parcel safely delivered, I can post this without risk of revealing her package before it got there in the mail.
This is a photo my little ones helped me take of the parcel we sent out to one of our friends on Ravelry.  This was for the March Side Swap theme, Anything Goes!
The children helped me wrap the items up and put stickers on them all.  We used spring stickers, of course.  The fingerless mitts and coffee cup cozy I knitted myself.  The other items were selected based on careful consideration and the children saying "Pick that!".
The kids especially liked the spring themed items we chose, like the chocolates wrapped in Easter Egg fashion, and the spring fabric bags we used to place goodies in.  The spring scarf I saw in a local shop and thought right away how it would be perfect for a spring swap.
It was a fun swap.

Monday, 11 April 2011

March Side Swap - Anything Goes...

Here is Part 2 of the previous post.  I'm sharing with you some of the photos I took from the swap parcel that arrived from Frances for me.  She was so kind, even adding goodies for me to share with the kids!

Evan was out with Daddy, so it was just Emma and I to unwrap all these fun things.

Here is the group shot of the second have of the swap goodies in the box.  Frances is very talented at packing - it was like a Mary Poppins bag of never ending goodies! Wow! Something for everyone, too!
For me, an awesome pattern for fingerless mitts, which I will be putting on my queue list.  I have to give her credit, Frances really did her research.  I guess she must know how much I adore fingerless mitts!  Bonus points for doing your homework, Frances!

  Frances also gave me a knitting magazine, see that amazing sweater?  It reminds me of one of my favorite yarns, Moda Dea, that was discontinued only after I had just discovered it.
Evan and Burk will both like checking out this book on how to draw cars and trucks.  On top of all that, Frances sent us her state quarter to add to our quarter collection. 
We were missing this one, so thank you for contributing!
Something else that will be enjoyed by all of us is the illustrated story book about the countryside, which is local to Frances.  I will also enjoy reading the local magazines Frances included for me to learn more about her area.  I really appreciate all the thought Frances has put into this swap.  It really shows.  I'm quite impressed.
Here is Emma checking out her own little Mary Poppins bag.  I wondered why the bag was so heavy...
inside it was a bag of Hershey's mini chocolate bars (the kids were very excited to share these!),
2 packs of crayons, and tons and tons of stickers!  Emma is in the photo pointing to her favorite ones.
She then got to work and promptly decorated the bag with as many stickers as she could put on it.
I thought it would have made for a great little project bag, but clearly Emma has her own plans for it.
The bag now holds her crayons, stickers, and some coloring pages inside it.  She likes to carry it around.  I'm glad it helped cheer her up, especially after having a fever most of the weekend.
Here is Emma showing me how to zip up her purse.  The zipper on it is special to Emma - she's never seen such a cool zipper pull.  She was so impressed that she could open and close it all by herself.
Now she's ready to shop.
Thank you so much, Frances!  You really spoiled us!!!

My little assistant

Here is Emma opening a parcel we just right now got from the mail man. I didn't even have to chase him down! He came right to my doorstep!

Emma had a rough time opening it up, as it was well taped.  I got out the scissors and gave her a hand.  I saw on the box that this was from Frances, but I was a little confused as I wasn't her partner in any current swaps... but wait, could it be?  Is Frances my secret pal in the March Side Swap on Ravelry?   OOOH!  So fun!

Here is the first view upon opening my mystery parcel.  Right off the bat, I can see it's packed to be discovered in layers.  :)
I do like to unwrap things.  Emma was thrilled, too. 

We have a nice spring themed card from Frances with a hand written note inside, a post card from her area to add to our postcard collection, and a really cool slogan sticker that I have on my fridge door.  "Beware of the sleep deprived mom!"  It would look equally good on top of the coffee machine.

Next is a group photo of some of the things I opened. 

I had to take 2 group photos, as this is the most stuff I've ever gotten in a swap, and it all wouldn't fit together.

Lots of goodies! 

Here is a cute little bunny broach for Emma to wear on her sweater.  She tried it on her pajamas and checked it out in the mirror, then told me to try it on, too.  It's adorable!  I wonder how small the needles were for this?  Emma then asked me about the spring stamp. 

 Next to become unwrapped was a treat from Lantern Moon... I love their notions!  I have a rosemary wood cable needle from them that is amazing!  This was a package of handknitted flower stitch markers, in such fresh spring colors!  Emma right away asked to have one.  I showed her how they like to hang on mommy's knitting needles to make my yarn pretty.
Here is not one, but two skeins of Blue Ultra Alpaca Berroco yarn!  Nice an squishy, too!  I wonder what it will become?
Even some new things to discover... like the delicious honey with nuts inside it.  It's supposed to be good drizzled over ice cream, so I'll be getting some ice cream at the store this weekend.
 That's not all... I'll have to do a second post to propery share the photos.
Lantern Moon Flower stitch markers
Ice Cream honey treat