Friday, July 31, 2009


Just got back from vacation with the entire clan. We visited PEI. Never been. It's been over 12 years since I've moved to the east coast and this was my first visit to the island. Thank heavens the weather cooperated. We drove and part of our journey included a ferry ride (I highly recommend making reservations either online or via telephone).

We stayed in Cavendish. Although touristy, its a good starting point especially if you have children. Lots of family activities. Great spending time with the kids throwing 'round the football, flying a kite, building sandcastles, swimming, roasting marshmallows or getting dizzy at the amusement park. I even managed to sneak in a little knitting . . .

Always a little sad when its time to leave, but awfully nice to finally get back into your own bed. Still have a few more days off till we're back at work. Maybe get some more knitting in before then. Hope your summer is nice wherever you're at!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's In Your Bag: Gadgets and Do-dads

Each trade has its tools. So it is for any hobby. The art of knitting is no different. Yes, one needs needles and yarn, but there's much more. And it doesn't help that I'm a sucker for crafty do-dads. Below is my knitting bag; its a makeup bag where I store my gadgets. There's always a pencil, a highlighter, a tape measure, a blunt needle, scissors and waste yarn--just in case. But there's more.
Needle Protectors:
I love those rubber tips! Noticed my sock knitting? Go take a look (sock link ). Those rubber tips stay on my needles ALL THE TIME. Go ahead: ask me why. 'Cuz I've actually lost needles in mid-knit. There's nothing more frustrating than picking up teeny-tiny live stitches that have unexpectedly lost their needle. The mere thought makes me cringe . . . :O

Crochet Hooks:
Handy for fixing mistakes and awesome for taming the dreaded curl of stockinette stitch. Right
now I have two, but I'd like one more smaller size. Hard to believe I used to crochet. Mom and I made some lovely afghans and I still have the one lacy doily I made with crochet thread.

Safety Pins:
I've got regular safety pins and those plastic ones without the coils. They're handy for keeping track of increases and decreases. Regular pins are also useful for seaming.

Ring Markers & Split Markers:
Handy-dandy indeed! You can never have too many sizes or too many colours. I don't have any fancy ones, but still useful to mark off patterned section in your knitting.

By the way, notice the cute little plastic boxes where I store my pins & rings? They're from my husband who uses ear plugs. When he's done with the ear plugs, he gives me the little plastic box.

Row Counter:
Until I bought one, I never thought I needed one. I'd always used paper and pencil to mark the row I was on. But this gadget is very handy for counting rows as well as keeping track of pattern rows. I move the counter along so that I know I'm on row 4 of a 9-row pattern for instance. I switch back to row 1 when the repetition is complete.

What do I need now? How about a proper knitting gauge. I can't find one in town (should have purchased one when I was in a proper knitting shop). Perhaps I'll add one to my shopping cart next time I make an online purchase.
Happy knitting!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Handy-Dandy Notebook

I've lamented of late my lack of knitting. With summer I suspect there may be other knitters who knit less or find other activities that temporarily usurp their knitting time. Unfortunately, this lack of knitting makes writing my blog a little more challenging--it being a knitting blog! And I did promise myself when I started all this a mere four months ago that I would blog at least once a week. So it goes without saying that my handy-dandy notebook has come in very handy.
What is a handy-dandy notebook? Initially I used it to keep track of lesson plans and such for work. Now I use it to jot down notes to myself, explore an idea, or just write something creative. I've also made various lists of topics in case I had nothing knitting related to discuss. Now wasn't that smart (or perhaps slightly neurotic and maybe even anal-retentive)?

One thing I've learned about myself over the years is that I'm a process-writer. I just jot down something--anything! Then I re-write it. Over and over. The secret to good writing is revise, revise, revise . . . it's worked all through my schooling. Why shouldn't it work in real life?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Sad, Sad Garden

Despite the unseasonably cool summer (frost in July is not even remotely funny) and the lack of sunshine, the front garden is doing well. I haven't been very good at weeding, but everything is growing very nicely. The nice thing about perennials is that they come up year after year with little work on my part (at least, I try to choose plants that require little work on my part)
Even my flower box is growing very nicely--perhaps too well. The dianthus were getting a little spindly in the over-crowded box so I "liberated" a few and transplanted them to the front garden. Hope they do well there.

I also moved some to the little patch by the front step. I think I should move more over 'cuz that little corner is so very, very sad :(

With the cool weather, I lost my gardening mojo. Then I kept procrastinating the purchase of more plants. At this point of the season, most garden centers are closing and what's left behind isn't necessarily in great shape. So I "shopped" around my perennials: bleeding hearts, daisies, dianthus, yellow aurea and silver beacon. I hope everything "takes". This time next week, I'll have a better idea (but at this point, it doesn't look too good).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Sock and Its Mate

Still cross-stitching and consequently doing very little knitting--very little. Although I did finish the sock I was working on and have started its mate. It is going rather slowly--very slowly.

Lots of things going on in town this weekend with many, many tourists in the area. So much to see and do. So not more knitting predicted for this weekend either. I'm hoping that with vacation looming ahead, I'll get to relax and knit more. Le sigh

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Days

I love summer! Not those days when there's almost a haze all 'round and the sky looks scorched and faded with nary a cloud in sight. Not those days when there's not a breath of air. Not those days when the molecules seem to hang about like a wet, sticky mess until you've been reduced to a grease spot . . . No, can't say I enjoy that part of summer.

Rather, I prefer clear blue skies; cool breezes gently wafting, sweetly scented with roses or freshly cut grass; birds chirping amidst cool, green tree limbs; cool water trickling along a rocky river bed . . . . these are the things about summer I cherish most.

Finally summer has come to the east coast of Canada! Mother Nature played a dirty trick (frost in July? How rude!), but with her sick sense of humour satiated, she's allowed summer to visit us once more. It's only fair as recent years have only given us one month of summer (as opposed to the rest of the country that often sees 2 months).

So much knitting planned: a cardigan for my wee niece and perhaps a winter hat too; continue working on Blue Sprout and green lace scarf (although Blue Sprout has fallen by the wayside for the moment); contemplating a baby knit for new nephew to be born this winter; and of course socks galore for my boys (and maybe mittens too).

I'm also working on--in dribs and drabs--an old cross-stitich project that's been languishing for over 10 years (oh the crafting horrors!). Remember the small finished cross-stitch projects awaiting framing ( see link here )? These were started and finished AFTER I started this particular piece (which incidently will measure 14" by 11" when finished). It shall languish no more! I'm determined to finish no matter how long it takes. If I work on it a little each day, I'll get her done (of course the thought has crossed my mind that my knitting may suffer . . . oh dear). My ultimate goal is to one day frame this piece and hang it upon the wall of my farmhouse (okay, so right now I have an imaginary farmhouse, but one day I will have a real one . . . keep your fingers crossed--and while you're at it, cross your toes too).

Happy crafting! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Knitting: A Link to the Past?

For me, knitting is an on-going history of which I am an active participant. I learned to knit from my mother who was taught my her mother and grandmother, who in turn were taught by their mothers . . . and so on, ad infinitum. It goes on much as one stitch connects to the one before it, so too I am connected to my ancestors. And I feel blessed to have been given the chance to learn how to fashion fabric from sticks and string (oddly enough, my sisters never shared any interest in learning to knit, although one of them did sew for a while). I don't have any daughters onto which to pass on my skills, but one of my sons has expressed an interest in learning the craft.

I don't recall the exact age when I learned. Sometime before I turned 10, my mom busily knit many sweaters and such for my youngest sibling (who was in utero). I'm not sure if it was then or some time afterwards that my mom took the time to teach me. I remember she had bought me my own plastic needles; they were bright yellow (my sister had the green ones, but she wasn't too keen on the whole string-and-stick thing in the first place). I distinctly recall making a garter stitch scarf for one of my dolls. With each new row, the thing inexplicably grew width-wise as well as length-wise.

Once I was proficient enough, I naturally sought projects to practise my newly learned skills. Dreamly I browsed through the craft section in our local Woolworths (yea, that dates me, doesn't it). I'd fondle the yarns (yeah, they were acrylic but they were still fun to touch) and browse through the Beehive Patons booklets. The one that stole my heart and fanned my imagination: Patons booklet #139.

See all those Barbie doll outfits? Oh how I loved my Barbies! I ended up making the blue suit, the sheath dress and I think the long coat. I made some cute baby doll outfits too.

The last time I had visited my mom, I discovered to my great disappointment that she had gotten rid of all her old crochet and knitting books and magazines. I was so disheartened! I had hoped to take them all home with me as my mom no longer knitted.

And then one day while browsing through some old craft books at a rummage sale on campus, my little eye spied one Patons booklet: book #139!! I swear I jumped and I think my boys looked at me funny. I snatched that baby so fast . . . my childhood had come back and I could hold it in my hands!

I haven't knit anything out of that booklet--at least not yet. I'm waiting for my niece to be old enough for Barbies (is it wrong to still fondly walk through the Barbie aisle at the toy store?). I'm sure I will some day. . . .

Such good memories filled with fibery goodness--of the acrylic variety of course. After all, it was the seventies (I know. I'm old). Some day, I'll regal you with my fondest crochet memories full of ponchoes, granny-square vests, never-ending afghans and purty doilies . . . good times!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Socks, Socks Wonderful Socks!

Ever read Robert Munsch's Smelly Socks? It's about a girl who looks for the most wonderful pair of socks and when she finds them, wears them to the point of severe stench and toxicity. Munsch is my favorite children's author. His stories make me laugh and they're just fun to read aloud.

Working on my current sock project made me think of Smelly Socks. When my son tried it on he exclaimed, "They're wonderful!" and then he didn't want to take the sock off--nevermind that the darn thing isn't even finished yet! I'm hoping this bodes well for my latest pattern.

I'm in search of the perfect sock pattern--well, perfect for my boys. I love the ribbing and the longer leg length of this current pattern I'm using from Patons (see Patons Sock ). Mixed feelings about the heel turn--it looks a bit too narrow, although the sock seemed to fit my son's foot just fine. I prefered the heel turn in the Vogue vintage pattern (see Vogue Vintage Ribbed Socks ).

Judging from the fit, I've just a little more legnth to knit and then I can shape the toe. The end is almost near.

Happy knitting :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Orange Smoothie

Do you like? I really like. :D

I started this project about a year ago (my Rav notes tell me I began swatching at the end of June 2008 and cast on mid-July). As a beginner's first foray into simple lace, I enjoyed the knitting despite little hiccups (for some reason I was making my YOs incorrectly. Thankfully my mistake didn't really affect the overall design). This top also represents my real first attempts at short-rows and I'm quite pleased with my effort and the final result (thank heavens for and their videos. I think I played their short-row tutorial ad nauseum while I worked on the bust).

My one big modification was shortening the length. The lace portion was supposed to be 14", but I only worked about 12" (I didn't actually write down how much, but it was between 10-12"). I thought the original top would have been too long on my body. The final length looks fine.

The other modification was adding a single crochet border along back and underarm areas due to lots of rolling (not sure if it was flaw in my gauge, yarn choice or pattern). Some might not mind a little roll; personally I don't like it. The crochet really helped alot. If I were to re-do pattern, I'd definitely add some ribbing to control it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Knitting FO and Cross Stitch Too!

I've got one knitting FO--well, sort of. I've completed one slipper. It was meant for me, but it is a smidge small so I'm passing it on to my son. He really does need a new pair. His old pair is sadly "holey". I've already cast on for the second slipper. And I've learned how to better sew the thing (after all, practise makes perfect).

In rummaging through my things I came across some finished cross stitch items I had made when my boys were babies. The projects are complete and just need to be framed. The first one (with the bear and bunny) matched their curtains and crib linens (as you may have guessed, teddy bears were the theme). The second one (with the little angels) was a cute little kit I received as a gift.
Sadly, I do not know how to frame my work myself. Perhaps my MIL could help me.

See the framed scene above. My MIL made the piece and framed it herself. She's an awesome cross-stitcher. Her work is beautiful and I'm amazed at how quickly she can complete a complicated project. She's given a few pieces as gifts and even donated some. I think she learned how to frame because for some reason its rather expensive to have a professional do it--at least in our local area.

Here's hoping you're doing something crafty this weekend.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

Here's hoping you all have an awesome Canada Day! I'll be enjoying the day off with my family (inspite of the rain).

(photo courtesy of Natthawut Kulnirundorn

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