Saturday, April 28, 2007

Frolic-ing through fields of...

well, yarn, of course...

Just in from the DKC Knitters' Frolic, and my goodness, how it has grown! I last went maybe 6 - 7 years ago? And it was in a church, I think, downtown, maybe 15 - 20 vendors, some workshops - just a nice, small, local-feeling kind of event.

Today's yarn-stravaganza was held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, with over 70 vendors selling all manner of yarns and tools and books and just STUFF - way overwhelming! And of course I forgot my camera, so you will have to rely on others' reports for the visuals...

But I started off with a 9a.m. drop spindling class, taught by Lorraine Smith, who was just wonderful (the link takes you to a recent article she wrote for Knitty)!
I have tried this before with absolutely no success, but for some reason this time there was a little more clicking happening. Maybe it was the new drop spindle I had to buy for the class, made from cocobolo wood:New Drop Spindle.

Maybe it was the myriad of fibres we were invited to play with, ranging from shetland wool to merino to alpaca to silk/wool hand carded rolags...

or maybe it was finally explained to me in such a way that I GOT IT... yes, I made some kaka yarn:Shetland Wool - First Spin!
Merino / Alpaca - 2nd try

Actually, there are some patches in the second attempt, the bicolour, that look like real yarn - very exciting!

So a very satisfying morning - and then, of course, there were the vendors...

and I was SO GOOD - so well behaved, so restrained...

I HAD to get this - the colours are just too rich, too wonderful, and the jacket will be the perfect thing with my 'uniform' of jeans and t's:

I think this is the jacket that Tanya was working on in a KAL at her LYS...
And, of course, the mandatory sock yarn purchase... because, as we all know, sock yarn doesn't count as stash... and this is one I don't see in shops, so it was totally okay: IMG_0302
The yarn is from Seacoast Handpainted Yarns, and the colourway is Sea/Sky/Sand - how summery is that?

You know, for someone with only two feet, I seem to have an awful lot of potential socks...

The other thought that crossed my mind was how much smaller the world seems because of blogs. They seem to create an overfamiliarity which strikes me as kind of funny. I poked around the Lettuce Knit booth, saw some scrumptious yarn which I did NOT buy (although it pained me physically to put it down) after asking the price - I then realized that I was speaking to Laura Chau of Cosmicpluto Knits! fame and was all set to start chatting with her when I thought for a second, hell, I don't really know her, I just read her blog faithfully, but I feel like I know her. She doesn't know me. I wonder how many well-known bloggers find themselves facing people who think they know them so well, and how they feel about it. This sort of instant comfort must be nice on some level, but maybe a little unnerving, too... I don't know, just wondering...

so there's my Saturday morning - came home to find that Maggie had eaten a WHOLE loaf of bread and an ENTIRE package of hot dogs buns, while foregoing the cookies and chocolate on the same counter - she is the Carb Queen, and unfortunately, on her hind legs, is tall enough to reach right to the back of the counter... naughty girl...

one Bemidji done for Artisan Knitworks, another blocking and the third of this batch about to be cast on - pics tomorrow - I must go and spindle... I'm so afraid I'll forget, and it won't work anymore!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Catch up time

Amazing how fast time whips by! I start every day with every intention of writing and updating, and then that day morphs into the next one, and so on, and so on...

so, it was a wonderful, beautiful weekend here, not only because of the stellar weather, but also because of various birthday celebrations:
Charlie turned 6,happy 6th birthday, Charlie! (hmm, hard to capture the essence of an all-black dog - trust me, he's adorable), and I turned somewhat more than 6... no pics, don't want to scare anyone...

Maggie watched the various festivities as only a true lady would,such a lady legs crossed and all - she actually lies like that much of the time, when she's not sprawled with utter abandon all over "her" couch... and praise the lord, her hair is growing back in...

I made a lovely vignette, a la HGTV, in my front foyer with birthday roses:
foyer vignette, and then thought I really should show the whole picture, which is so much more representative of life here:
the real scoop!
I mean, hey, where do you keep your goalie pads?

I scored some excellent birthday gifts, including an authentic Montreal Canadiens jersey with Yvan Cournoyer's name and # (12) on it, courtesy of my sons,
and this:
he's RAKING - Ben was raking, and raked for a good hour with me... the weather was so nice I was actually enjoying raking and de-pooping the back yard... well, as much as one can enjoy that sort of thing...

I was FINALLY allowed to open the box from Kelly, which Ben hid in his closet - funny I didn't spot it because I'm the only one who goes in there... look what she picked up on her trip to Seattle:
'Duets' sock yarn, in the most wonderful fallish colours - and of course, yellow and orange and brown are my favourite colours - thanks so much, Kel! I am going to let you select a pattern, okay?

There was a tragedy in the midst of all the sunshine and rainbows. My old barbecue died. It had done well, several years of hard work -I probably use the barbecue more than the oven, all year round, through ice and snow and sleet and hail, etc. - so, after much consideration, I made what I hope will be a long-term investment:
happy birthday to me! - mine has a copper coloured cover, and is just beautiful! I'll put in a picture of it when it's not raining...

the inaugural grilling was last night:new toy
It will NEVER be this clean again, I fear, so I thought something for posterity would be appropriate...

and look, Ma, no knitting! Well, not true, tons of knitting, as always, but I don't think sweater pieces or an 11" chunk of navy blue bamboo stocking stitch qualify as watchable knitting... but there was some fun stuff in the mail today...

this month's installment from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, which is 85% wool, 15% silk, and just mouthwatering IMG_0296, as well as the monthly selection from the Pick Up Sticks club: IMG_0295

So now I think we're updated - I will put up pictures of my actual knitting next time - oh, and on Saturday I'm off to the Knitters' Frolic, hosted by the Downtown Knitting Collective in Toronto - I am really looking forward to this, as I am taking a drop spindle class in the morning, and checking out the vendors afterwards... think I'll manage to avoid temptation? Think I'll admit I have enough yarn, and just walk on by?

Think again...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Finally.... SPRING!! and other observations

It's gorgeous out here - 18 degrees Celsius by my thermometer - just think, two days ago I had the heater on in the car because I was chilled... and in another two days it will probably be hot enough for people to complain about it -

welcome to Spring in southern Ontario!

I have lilac buds:IMG_0282 - I swear they weren't there yesterday! And I'll bet that by Sunday they will be out in bloom... any takers?

So, in keeping with Wendy and Julie of Samurai Knitter fame, I am going to share a shot of my fridge, in all it's chaotic glory:
IMG_0279, with a couple of close-ups of things that always make me laugh out loud:
IMG_0280 (either the card or the screwy pic of my kids)

Please note that the white cupboards and Holly Hobby wallpaper in the kitchen were here when I moved in - they are NOT my choice, and are, in fact, the bane of my existence... dogs? boys? WHITE and CUTESY? Please...

Julie also pointed out on her blog that CNN is running a poll about preferred leisure activities, and knitting is one of them. When I voted this morning, it wasn't even in the top ten, so let's see if we can change that - go here, and let's see if we can't mess with their statistics, shall we?

Another observation - when Maggie had her now infamous "this is SO NOT a retriever" haircut recently, the gal who trimmed her asked if I wanted to get her nails painted. I almost fell over laughing, then realized she was serious and was struck speechless. She assured me that everyone gets it done, Maggie has nicely shaped nails (???!!!!), and she had a shade of red that would work well with her colouring.

She's a DOG, for God's sake - I don't get my own nails done, never mind my dog - but she had filed Maggie's nails in preparation for colouring:Maggie's manicure

is it me, or are things just getting too weird?

And in response to your comments, there is a birthday coming up here this weekend - Kelly very kindly sent a box with a big note on it telling me not to open it until the actual day. So Ben took it and hid it somewhere. And I don't know where. And I know there's yarn in there. And really, it's killing me.

Miss Scarlett, the bamboo is developing a wonderful drape, but is fairly splitty to knit, so I have to pay a little more attention while working. Given that it's navy blue stockinette for 11", this is quite a challenge.

And yes, my passport picture was almost exactly as I described - my mother saw it and laughed hysterically - my own mother - so you know it's bad... and I'm stuck with the thing for 5 years.

And finally - Sanjaya is gone!!! I have NEVER watched a reality show, have actually prided myself on being 'above that', until this year when the boys begged me to watch American Idol with them. I am hooked, utterly hooked, and Sanjaya has become a thorn in my side... hmm, maybe I'm a little overinvolved.

But he's gone, and the sun is shining, and it's the weekend, and it's going to be beautiful - so all is right with the world...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ahh, that's better!

These ARE socks!

So much more sock-like, donchyathink?

So, this morning I went to renew my passport, which expires in a few days. As we all know, it is, I think, impossible to travel anywhere out of country without one these days, so I thought it best to get it done. Did the photo thing on a day I thought I looked okay - came out with my hair looking like a comb-over faux-hawk - and prepared myself this morning for the rumoured 3 - 4 hour wait at the passport office.

I did one clever thing... I completed my application online.

I arrived, knitting and iPod at the ready, to a S.R.O. (I only recently learned that that means Standing Room Only - most of my life, I thought it was 'Sold Right Out') waiting room - no chairs, and they had only been open 10 minutes!! Because of my online application, I was moved to the "special" line with only three people ahead of me. Folks, I was in and out of there in less than 25 minutes - honestly! I left thinking that I had forgotten something, or something went wrong, because it just seemed impossible.

Nope. All fine. Done in under 25 minutes. I love the internet.

And now onto spring projects... for moi... in my spare time (a favourite oxymoron, right up there with 'extra cash'):
I started this, using navy bamboo yarn purchased some time ago from Discontinued YarnsIMG_0269 from the spring 2007 issue of KnitScene because I am... I don't know... there's something wrong with me, that's why.

And as I started it, I pulled thisIMG_0268 out of my stash, and I want to start it, too.

I am working on my 2nd of 3 Bemidji sweaters for Artisan Knitworks - will take pics once all are assembled - during the day, but night knitting is for me... I just have to figure out what the hell to knit!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh, yeah, I am SO cool...

So yesterday morning I took my van in to get the windshield replaced - hit by a rock on Saturday resulted in a constantly-growing spiderweb of cracks, so it had to be fixed -

I showed up at 8AM, Starbucks latte in hand, and said I'd wait the hour or two it would take. I pulled my knitting (sans instructions, because I know what I'm doing)and iPod from my knitting pouch, curled up in a chair, and a while later realized a crowd of men (well, three) were watching me from behind the counter. I stared back at them until one of them commented on how well organized I was, and how impressed they were with me. Okay... I guess... of course, these same guys put duct tape around the edges of the windshield when they were done, to "hold it in place", so I take whatever they said very lightly indeed...

I got home, pulled out the socks I had started, and thought to myself, you know, these look not too much like sock toes:
These are socks??!

These look like... hmmm... nipple covers, maybe? Or pasties? I realized that I had done my toe-up instructions in reverse, so rather than ending up with my usually nicely rounded toes, I got these. Lesson learned - my instructions are now photocopied and in my bag.

Then I read through IK's Favourite Socks again - I love this book, have got at least four pairs that I must make - and found one that I had to start right away. Next project Why? No idea, but it was as strong a sensation as a pregnancy craving (ask me sometime about tuna subs) - so I found the requisite yarn, purchased on my last visit to Kelly in Wisconsin, and cast on.

The Cascade Fixation is certainly different to knit with, and actually hurts my fingers a little - I find it rough. But what I really like about it is that the balls are individually wrapped. Like candies or something. I unwrapped the first, thinking that perhaps it would explode like a peeled golfball, but so far, so good.

Of course, I still have two more pairs of socks to knit for the twins, and I am working on them at the same time, but this compulsion to start something else is really weird. I would take some time to think about it, but well, I'm starting to think spring, and cotton and linen tops - must go shelve a couple of wintery projects and see what else I can start...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The pains of mismatching...

You'd think it would be so easy to mismatch socks - might be my anal-retentiveness rearing it's ugly head again...

Okay, so the first pair of socks for the twins is done - and I got a reprieve on the time, as we are now celebrating their birthdays - and mine - in early May, so I have lots of time to fiddle with these - however, in an attempt to break my usual habit of knitting to (right up to) deadlines, I am going to get started on these now and hopefully avoid the carpal burn...
One sock for each twin
Project: Basic Toe-Up Socks, my own pattern (not that it's really much of a pattern, just basic)
Yarn: Opal 'Feelings', #1702

Started: March 31, 2007
Finished: April 9, 2007

The socks look sort of crappy in the photo, but they don't fit properly on my sock blockers... but the colours are good, no?

So, now the puzzle of the second pair... must be a superwash wool of some sort because my sister-in-law does not like, nor have the time for, handwashing. Also need the nylon blend because they are 15 year old girls. So I have been thinking Opal or Regia or something similar.

This is what I have come up with:
Contenders for the twins

both are Opal yarns - ballbands not available, unfortunately. I'm thinking that the colourways are similar but the patterning will be vastly different, as well as being totally different from the completed pair - I'll make one sock from each ball, or maybe a pair, and then give them each three socks to mix and match at their leisure. Yeah, I think I'll go for the pair, and then they can play...

finished the sleeves on the current rendition of 'Bemidji', after having to rip out a good 6" worth - I was listening to a good book on my iPod, not really paying attention to the part of the instructions that said to stop increasing on both ends when the sleeve measured 17" across...

it was over 26" across and there was just no easing that puppy into the armholes... then I realized my lapse in knitting judgement, fixed it, and all is right again... so they are now blocking, and I will be casting on another AK sweater this afternoon - that, or picking up doggy doo in the backyard... hmm, such decisions...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter / 100th Post!

Is that a milestone, or just for me? Anyhow, hope everyone is enjoying their Easter weekend - we had a family gathering yesterday, during which my nephew entertained us all:
Could he be teething?
and I, with all my years of maternal experience, cleverly deduced that he might be teething -

No, dyathink????

We left rather hurriedly for Ben's championship hockey game, at 6:f*%(^g 30 Easter Saturday night - don't even get me started, I wrote letters and made phone calls of complaint, none of which were even acknowledged, never mind returned - this may require a whole 'nother post... AND I had to pay $3 to watch my own son play -

but I digress...

Ben finished with a silver medalSilver Medallist! with which he was very pleased and proud, as were we all -

this morning found me waking the boys at 8:30 to follow their Easter clues around the house - I was up until 1AM writing them, then got up at 5AM to place them everywhere - followed by a really nice brunch at a new restaurant in Burlington right on the lakefront, Spencer's at the Waterfront - great food, wonderful complimentary mimosas, and a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN!!!

I didn't take pictures because I didn't want to seem too much of a hick, but honestly, if I'd seen that when we entered, I would have skipped the oysters and Eggs Benedict, the olive tapenade and artisanal cheeses, dunked my head under the flow and been perfectly happy. As it was, there was a huge assortment of fresh fruit for dipping, so really, it was healthy chocolate... and for a gal with a case of PMS, well, you just couldn't improve on it...

so now I shall knit, listen to my iPod, curl up by the fire with dogs nearby (yes, it is cold enough to curl up by the fire), and think chocolately, champagney thoughts...


Friday, April 06, 2007

Thank you, Tanya!

Wow! Such an unexpected, wonderful surprise from Tanya, former secret pal and now internet friend:
From Tanya

This is one amazingly talented woman, people - this is "the" Tanya, of knit-a-pair-of-socks-in-one-night fame. Not only an amazing knitter, and now spinner, if you peek at her more recent blog entries, but she also made everything you see here:

gorgeous stitch markers made by Tanya
the stitch markers are just beautiful - don't these look more like jewellery than knitting accessories?

And the cards are made from pictures Tanya took herself, accompanied by her own little business card - wonderful!
Cards by Tanya

I may have to frame these, rather than send them all over the world...

Thank you so, so much, Tanya - I am very lucky, indeed!

Amazing what can happen in a week!

Younger sons can turn 11!Ben is 11!

Ben is the conscience of our family, I think, the pleaser - always wanting to ensure that everyone else is happy, but quite comfortable doing his own thing, too - one of the things I most admire about Ben is his self-assurance, and willingness to follow his own path (observe the short hair in a sea of shaggy heads) - he is funny, almost always happy and easy-going, a wonderful sense of humour, huge heart, almost as tall as me and wearing my shoe size (women's 10!!!) - Ben is also tremendously helpful, and I know I can always count on him to pitch in enthusiastically when there's work to be done...

he can be a little, um, forgetful at times, and we are working on learning to prioritize (homework first, then road hockey), but such a joy to be around -I am privileged to have Ben in my life...Who's your favourite hockey player?

A visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame can occurUp Close and personal with Bobby OrrThe Stanley Cup
There is something irresistible about the Stanley Cup, and the ability to touch what so many gifted athletes have touched before us is goose bump-inspiring...

Lunch can be had at Gretzky's:Tanner at Gretzky's
Really, #99 toasted into the hamburger bun - Wayne is nothing if not subtle...

Wonderful and unexpected gifts can be received in the mail - this deserves its own post, which is to follow:From Tanya

After much thought, I can cancel my membership in Spunky Eclectic's sock club, only to kick myself when the last installment arrives in the 'Dandelion' colourway and I LOVE IT!!!Last sock club installment

And dogs can become entirely new dogs, all with the touch of some clippers:
Maggie pre-trimA whole new dog!
It was a new gal doing the dogs this time, who assured me that she has a special knack for trimming Maggie's breed (Retriever/Poodle) which makes them look like Retrievers... um, no, not really... nope, not at all - if anything, her head is cut much too closely and her beard is a little too full - looks like an overgrown, mutant Scottie dog...

of course, I mean that in the nicest way...

And Charlie? Well, he just doesn't get what the fuss is all about...
Charlie post-trim

And these are just the highlights of our week... amazing, isn't it?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Advice needed, please, and I'm not fooling....

Happy April!

So, my nieces are turning GASP! SHOCK! 15 later this month, and are typically hard to buy for. So I thought one of things I would do for them is make them each a pair of socks. They wear only mismatched socks - don't ask, it's just their "thing". And by mismatched, I do mean each sock is from a different pair.

So I have this ball of Opal 'Feelings', which I really like and think would be great for them - or for one of them. Here's my dilemma: are they mismatched enough by having the stripes off kilter, or should I knit two altogether different pairs and give them one of each? And that begs the question of whether the seond sock should be the same for each, or if they should both have one completely different from each other? The latter scenario would leave me with enough yarn for one sock each, of course, and then I could have my own mismatched pair.

Am I making any sense here? The kicker, of course, is that we are probably celebrating their birthdays a week early, on Easter weekend, which is actually NEXT weekend, and this is how far I am on the first pair:Opal 'Feelings' socks

As an aside, the bag is a KnowKnits pouch, an early birthday gift for me from my mom - I love my mom...

Elsewhere in my knitting life, the vest and socks - remember the yellow socks? The colourway was PENGUIN - were well received, and both fit, although I am told the vest does a "Vulcan" thing at the shoulders... hopefully that will be remedied by further blocking...

I am still working on the blue Colore sweater for Artisan Knitworks, but it is coming along quickly...

I finished my Indigo Fire socks, and the little scribble of yarn beside them is all I had left, which absolutely pleases me IMG_0142
what do you guys do with your left-over sock yarn?

Project: Toe-Up Feather and Fan Socks from Wendy Johnson
Yarn: Indigo Fire from Yarn Ahoy!
Started: February 24, 2007
Finished: March 29, 2007

And I got my March installment from Pick Up Sticks' sock club, which is just delicious...

it's rainy and kind of chilly here today, nothing close to the high 50's and sunshine we were enjoying earlier this week (yes, that's Farenheit - I think better in Farenheit - and gallons, I understand gallons better, too, and inches and feet and yards and ounces), and this is dogs' preferred activity when it's rainy and chilly:

Haircuts tomorrow...