Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Birthday Goodies

Last week ended up not like I expected, but with a good end.

It started with that mitten mix up that wouldn't give up - I am glad to say that it didn't get the best of me.  After frogging, dropping stitches, losing my on the thumb and frogging again, getting my guage wrong somehow and redoing it yet again, it finally got done.  I could have gotten a whole new pair done in the time it took me to fix that one mitten.  What a sigh of relief.  And sadly, what was my favourite pattern may now not get looked at for awhile.  What a shame, because the hand dyed Merino wool from Bristol County Dyeworks finally arrived in the mail... right on my birthday!  That was exciting, and in the New Moon inspired colours.  I was waiting for this to arrive so I could make myself a pair of Alice Cullen inspired Pulse Warmers for myself with this very skein of yarn.  But I need to take a break from this pattern.  It will happen, but not now.  Besides, I have my twin sister's birthday waffle mitts to make.  Yes, they should have been done by now, and would have, had it not been for those horrible mitten mixups last week.  I will be visiting my twin next weekend, so that gives me just enough time to get her mitts done, and hopefully no mess ups.  A fresh new pattern will do me good.  And the yarn I am using for her is brand new so that will be a treat to work with.

Part of that mitt was finished while spending a long night in the local ER waiting room.  I'm not sure how long your average wait is where you live, but over here people wait on average about 8 hours.  For most parents with a cranky child (and most children are at least agitated there) this can be a very long night, and physically draining.  My little Emma had lost her footing for a moment and fell backwards.  She would have been fine, only when she landed her head made contact with the foot break pedal of the play pen which was nearby.  I never noticed just how much that pedal sticks out.  It never got in the way before now.  I cleaned it up, iced her head, and told my husband she'd going to need stitches - let's go.  I knew it would be a long night, so I packed well.  Stroller with the big cargo basket underneath, a pillow, blanket (it does get cold there with the doors so close to the wait area), her favourite machine-washable toys, water and snacks for all of us.  Oh, and my knitting for whenever she falls asleep.  I was certain I'd have enough time to finish a project there.  I have to say, Emma surprised me by just how well she handled the wait.  She was in surprisingly good spirits, as long as I was right there with her at all times.  She was so happy that big brother (age 7) had let her borrow his new moo cow pillow that moos when you squeeze it.  That was a big deal to her, and she kept showing us how to make it moo.  It really does sound funny - this cow doesn't just moo, it moo snores!  When she finally fell asleep around 1:00 am, I took out my knitting.  I must have been really dragging, as I didn't get more than a few rows done in a couple of hours.  This was when I did all the unraveling, reknitting, losing track of my rows and trying again.  When I realized I was too tired to knit efficiently, I put it away with only a few rows gained.

I won't go into details of how utterly unimpressed Emma was with the poor bedside manner of the doctor.  He was wanting to get the wait times brought up to speed, so his visit with us was prompt.  I didn't expect him to be quite so rough handling a toddler though.  It was hard for a mom to watch, but that's why I'm the mom and he's the doctor.  All I can say, is that when I told her "It's over.  It's all done." I took her in my arms and she held on so tightly.  She didn't relax until we had her back in her car seat buckled in, and then she let herself drift off to sleep again.  We were both exhausted.  I got home just in time to start work.  My good friend and client was so nice to me, she mercifully brought me a Tim Hortons coffee.  I got through the day, but had a difficult time getting Emma to bed on time.  So another late night for me.  The next morning, so surprise, Emma and I were both sick.

Sick, just in time for my planned girl's weekend.  We were going to have my family over, and some friends, go bowling, have a wii zumba party, watch a movie... whatever, something like that.  But now feeling so ill, I had to cancel plans.  And rest.

When we were both feeling better, my friends brought me out for an evening coffee.  I had a Caramel Macciato (spelling?) with extra whipped cream for my birthday.

I was spoiled with this nice goodie package from my friends.  Knitting magazines, flavoured coffee, chocolates, a book by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that I was eyeing, a page-a-day dog lover's calendar, a night light for my Kobo ereader, candies and hand-dyed yarn.

There was more chocolate than is in the photo,
but I am kind hearted and shared it with my friends so it's no longer there.
Here is Emma showing the cute little knitted bag she was given.  Her birthday is next week.  She loves to run around with this little purse, it's so adorable!

I was even given a link for a free birthday pattern to knit from MinKnit on ravelry.

Last but not least, my husband and children took me out for brunch, then to the yarn store for dessert.  I picked out some needles and yarn for my birthday pattern.  That was very nice of them.  They score bonus points for this one.  I was really only hoping they would clean the house for me, but this was both unexpected and well enjoyed!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


OK.  So, I got my friends mitts done.  I screwed them up nicely.  I relaxed a bit too much on the second mitt, and the gauge changed a tiny bit.  You can see it here in the photo. If you stretch the first mitt, you can make them look the same, but when I wear them I can notice a relaxed fit on the second mitt.  I am tempted to make a third mitt in a relaxed fit as well.  I might have enough yarn left over, but it's hard to tell. 
 Aside from having the mitts being one tighter than the other, I have a problem with a blob of color showing up on the hand.
 You see it?  Does it look to you like someone spilled something there?  I tried to make the second one identical by casting off at the same point.  I thought this would make it so that when finished, you could wear the blob on the insides of both mitts.  Of course, it turns out I made two left mitts or two right mitts.  This pattern is designed so you can wear the mitt comfortably on either hand, which is true.  It feels good wearing it.  But I wanted mirror twins, not like this.

I thought I had read somewhere that there was a way to make the color spiral the opposite way, but I don't recall how it's done.

Here's what the other side looks like.  It would have made a nice outer side for the hand.

But this is what I get...
 It doesn't even look like a pair, does it???
I really wanted to have this project done by this coming Friday, as my friend comes over for my birthday weekend celebration.  I'll try not to pout... on the bright side, I will be learning something new.  Can't fix a mistake without learning a lesson.  Just breathe...

Preemie Knit Patterns?

One of the members of a disscussion group I belong to has just had her baby - early.  24 weeks old, and just a pound.  So I have decided to knit her some baby clothes, as they are much needed.  This of course will mean another :) trip to the yarn store, right after I had said that I would be limiting my trips there and going from my stash.  But I do not have any baby yarn in my stash, and I think a preemie would have especially sensitive skin.  Would organic cotton or Blue Skies cotton silk be soft enough?  I have very limited amounts of those anyway, but maybe enough for a baby hat.  Or I could be smart and knit them into colour rows;  then 3 half skeins may make enough for one Owlie Sleep Sack.

I need about 200 yards for this pattern.  I wonder how to make it small enough for a teeny baby, as this is newborn size in the photo.  I'm guessing I would take the same pattern to the yarn store and get smaller yarn and smaller needles, and hope for the best?

I'm trying to find something to try out patterns on, like my toddler's dolls.  If needed, I can try to crochet my own something, but you haven't seen how badly my self-designed crochet projects turn out, as I don't post them.  Here is what I have to work with:

The teddy bear might be the closest in size for now, but this baby will grow...

If you have any suggestions out there for preemie baby patterns, please send me the links in the comment section.  Thanks!

Monday, 17 January 2011

New Year's Goals for 2011

Instead of Resolutions, I am going to write my goals for this year. As a friend suggested, unmet resolutions can make one feel like a failure or discouraged enough to stop trying. So I am going to write Goals rather than resolutions. It's been proven that when people write down their goals, they have a much higher success rate than if they were to just make mental notes of their goals.

So here they are, better late than never.

  1. Spend more time with family. I am making it a priority to spend more 1 on 1 time with each of my three kids, as well as making at least one day a month as a special family event. This is not so easy, as my husband works too much so having a day where he is home to do something with us is not easy to come by. His days off will usually fall on a day when the kids are in school (homeschooling was great for this, but my boys would not take their school work seriously).
  2. Transition my volunteering commitments to home-based things like charity knitting rather than leaving the house to volunteer, as my children miss me and complain I’m not home enough when I volunteer. This will be a hard one for me, as I love to volunteer in my community and don’t like to turn things down. I’m committed until June, then I may allow someone to replace me. Last year I was asked by my family to quit volunteering, and I did drastically cut down the amount of time I went out to volunteer. But I get so much out of it, I decided to stay on board for another year.
  3. Knit from my stash as much as possible before drooling over new yarn at my local yarn store. Very challenging, as I have just last month started to frequent this cute little store with Blue Sky alpaca…. Of course, I will allow myself to purchase things there for swaps, or special gifts, birthday projects… see how hard this is? But I definitely want to see if I can use up all my stash. That would be awesome, even though I don’t have a large enough stash. Also, yarn given to me doesn’t count for a stash diet, does it???
  4. Learn how to knit and read at the same time. That would be great! I knit continental, but can learn the other way if that’s how people do it to read while they knit.
  5. Really pay down my debt. Also, to set some money aside for savings/investing. That will make my hubby happy.
  6. Actually get my taxes done on time this year. Oh, and return ALL my library books on time this year. The library makes enough money off my late fees to possibly open a new wing...
  7. Declutter the basement. It’s No Man’s Land down there… but I want to get ALL the junk out. At least half of it by Spring. Start finishing the basement by the end of next fall.
  8. Have knitted Christmas presents for each member of my family/friends done for 2011 Christmas. I wanted to do that this past Christmas, but started too late and only got a few done. This year I will plan ahead, knit ahead, and have each finished object in a Ziploc freezer baggie for me to see and remember it is done! I’ve already started by organizing a space in my closet for this, with empty freezer bags labeled with names on them. I will be going through my stash and putting the skeins for intended people inside the bags to help prepare. And maybe the pattern if I think of it.
  9. Get in better shape. I plan on doing this through the winter with Wii Zumba, which is so much fun. This includes losing a few pounds/inches. I want to get rid of the muffin top, but also have more energy.
I will check back every month and see how these goals are going. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Guess what I just got on Etsy???

OK, so first see the photo on the post below of the Alice Cullen mitts. OK, so anyone of you who have actually seen Twilight's NEW MOON movie, may notice that these mitts are a little off in colour pattern. The ones in the movie (you can see the photo and view pattern details on ravelry, but pattern is in the book Vampire Knits ).

This has been driving me crazy! The yarn here is hand-dyed, so I can't find anything that would make these cute little splotches of colour. So I found out from the designer, Nancy Fry, that the hand-dyed cotton is available on Etsy. There were two skeins left! I don't know if they make more or not, but it was called New Moon. The colour was apparently inspired by the hues in the movie. So I got one! I know, I know... why didn't I get two? tsk, tsk. I'm sure once I start working with it I'll be kicking myself for not getting more. By the way, you are the only ones I've told. No one else knows! Can you imagine how much trouble I will be in when my best friend finds out that I didn't get a Twilight yarn for her, too? She is a huge Twilight fan. I wonder what knitted goodies the next movie will inspire? And do you think Alice knits her own things? She would be fast enough, and has the designer's flare. And would Bella take up knitting when she becomes a vampire, as she won't have clumsy hands anymore. She wore those really nice warm pair of grey double knitted cable mittens in the first one, the day of the slippery ice incident. So she might take it up, but as she doesn't care much for fashion, she probably wouldn't. I myself am fashionably challenged, I have not of the fashion world. But I love knitting!

So - if you had super speed and accuracy like the Cullens, what would you do with it?
Would you knit a pattern that you like but have never bothered with due to skill level, length of time to finish, etc?

Itching for a winter knitting swap!

I'll start by showing you what's on my needles today. This is a pair of Alice Cullen inspired fingerless mittens. I got the pattern from Vampire Knits, which has lots of mouth watering winter knitting projects. Bite me. :)

I'm making these for my college friend Debbie, who will be coming to visit me for my birthday next weekend. I didn't get to see her for Christmas, and realized I have never knitted anything for her. She doesn't knit, but I know she likes to stay warm. And the weather where she lives is slightly milder than here, so fingerless may do well for her. At least for spring, anyway, or fashionable shopping!

I have discovered a local yarn store in the next town over, and have been finding excuses to go back and wander around. I picked up a few more skeins yesterday as an early birthday present to myself, as well as some new dpns. The very nice lady at the store answered my questions and was kind enough to demonstrate for me how to knit in the round with 2 circular needles. Now I know, so I may have to pick up some extra circs to have 2 of each size. My circs were not long enough to do that 'magic' whatever it's called method. Forcing it to fit only made my yarn catch and snag where the cable met with the needle. ARG! So I'm using dpns to knit mitts, which is fine with me. I LOVE bamboo needles. They make knitting pure pleasure.

Now that I have gotten into the groove again, I am itching to join a swap! Back in 2008 I participated in a few, and made friends with some wonderful people. Most of us drop a line to one another via blog comments now and then. It's nice to stay in touch. I really liked connecting with people who live in other parts of the world - it really makes the world feel smaller (or closer, if that may be a better word).

Unfortunately, the swaps I joined back then do not have a repeat swap going. I was really looking forward to bumping into some of those guys and gals in another round.

Now I am going to have to seek out a new one to join.

I can knit, I can shop for fabulous yarn to send out, I can spoil my buddy with goodies like chocolate, coffee, etsy things, but I don't sew or do hand-made cards or things like that.

I hope to find something soon with a winter, chocolate, coffee, mystery, or something like that theme to join in on. Too early for spring themes for me. It's not even ground hog day yet.

If you are happily involved in a swap right now, I will try not to be jealous.
Now off to ravelry I go to check things out...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


So, today I am trying something new. This funny yarn - I forget what it's actually called, as it has been in my stash for a long time. I think it's called Fun Fur?

So for tonight's ESL kitting club that I'm volunteering for at the community centre, we are doing a simple garter stitch dishcloth knit-along. I wanted to show the other participants how you can make different things with the same stitch, like a scarf. How different can you get from cotton than fun fur? So, I pulled it out and cast-on. I quickly realized it was too tight, and had to start again. I was knitting the second row, thinking to myself how I will explain yarn tension to the group, and the same thing happened again; too tight. How will i be able to undo this???

If I can barely find the stitch buried in there to knit, how on earth do I undo stitches? :)

I guess this one had better be perfect, but inside all these tangles, I doubt if anyone would actually be able to tell what blunders lay there.

Normally, I knit Continental style. But as most people do it the other way, I thought I would brush up on English style knitting for tonight's meeting. At least I won't be going too fast for anyone. I wasn't sure just how new some of these knitters are, so I decided not to pick out a pattern with purls in it. Am I wrong? I think it would be challenging enough to try and teach a new technique, and new knitting terms to those who are struggling with the English language. It's conversational English we are trying to focus on, so I would like the participants to be as relaxed as possible, not having to over-complicate things. I've met a lot of wonderful people while volunteering at the community center. Our neighbourhood is very diverse, and through some of these programs we are able to get neighbours to reach out and say hello to one another.

I am a little nervous about my teaching ability. Knitting is something that I haven't been able to teach my kids, and I wonder if I'm just terrible at explaining it. I am bringing some youtube videos that show in slower speed the beginner steps. I won't be the only volunteer there, but it makes me feel better knowing I have expert backup if needed.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Getting There...

So I have taken stock of my finished knitting projects since November, and realized I have actually completed 7 projects! Wow! I guess I am definitely showing signs of improvement in both speed and skill. I think I still knit slowly, I'm just getting better at finding little bits of time to knit with. It helps that I take my projects along with me in my little knitting bag that can stash into pretty much any purse.

I still don't think I'm skilled enough (or patient enough) to complete a sweater. The last one I tried to crochet was such a disappointment. After running out of yarn, I bought more that was a non dye lot yarn and it didn't match up at all. So I had to wear it as a vest, but it just didn't cut it. At least from that I've learned my lesson of not underestimating how much yarn you need. Better off having extras than not enough.

Most of the projects I've done this winter have been fingerless mittens of varying sizes from toddler to adult. I started with the Alice Cullen inspired fingerless gloves, then made a pair of Sucky Thumb mitts from Ravelry, then made multiples of these for family and friends. From there I moved up to the Irish cabled fingerless gloves for one of my sister's Christmas gifts. I wanted it be special, so I ordered her yarn from fabulousyarn.com and I was so happy when it arrived. Skinny Dyed Blue Sky Alpacas 100% organically grown cotton... it felt soooo good to work with. However, I am still not too experienced with cabling. I had only one small sized cable needle, and found out it was making my stitches too tight. So I tried using one of my extra dpns to hold on the cables, which kept sliding off. Then I'd drop a stitch here and there. Then I used metal dpns instead of my wooden ones to speed things up, as it was getting dangerously too close to the Christmas mailing deadline. Wrong choice: I had entire rows just slide off the needle when I went to pick up my project out of the bag. Back to the wooden needles. Back to the yarn store to find a solution - happy silicon protectors! Sigh. This pair of mitts ended up totally missing the deadline for Christmas shipping, and finally arrived in England today. I've been eagerly waiting to find out what she thought of them, and was ecstatic to find out that the mitts were indeed received with joy. :) :) :)

This got my confidence up, and I made the exact same pair for practice in another colour of the same lovely yarn. This time I got the pair of mitts done in only a week, and only dropped stitches twice. I had to frog two rows, but only because I was knitting late at night and lost track of my count. I knitted a few extra rows past a cable row and had to go back. But they turned out nicely as well, and I will deliver them this week to their recipient who is looking forward to wearing them. I tried them on as well, for this photo.

Mind you, I have not finished blocking them so don't mind that. They feel so nice to wear! I am going to make a pair for myself. But when? It's so hard to resist knitting things for other people when I get to do the whole "Ta Da" thing when they are finished... and see that smile on someone else's face. It's so tempting...

Maybe if I do a 5 to 1 ratio of things for others and then a little something for me?
What's your system? How do you choose when to make something for yourself????
Maybe because I'm still new at this. Does it get easier in time? Seeing how many UFO's my friends have, I doubt it.