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.