Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer and Vacation

Sailboat Near the Shore

Vacation time should be filled with sunny days, cool breezes, shady trees and salt water beaches . . .
Strolling on a Sandy Beach

Days off should be filled with beach days, picnic lunches and road trips to city museums (and maybe a comic book store too).  And even if the rain should fall, there's popcorn, funny movies and board games to pass the time. 

'Nuff said ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fungi Friends

New Fungi Friends

So my boys finally have some new playmates: meet Toad and his brother Toad (if you've ever played Super Mario, you'll notice that sometimes there are numerous Toad-like characters in various colours.  That was the inspiration for my different coloured fungi)
Toad and Toad

They were "quick" projects in that the pieces were small and easy to make.  Perhaps I could have finished these sooner had I not dreaded the "finishing" process--darning in the ends, sewing the pieces together and embroidering the face. 
All Felt Eyes on Blue Toad

I must confess that the most "fiddly" part of the whole process was working the face.  I must have re-done the mouth  5 or 6 times before getting it right (I recommend black sock yarn to make the mouth.  DK/Sport is still too thick and embroidery floss was too thin).  The eyes, too, were a challenge (I recommend embroidering the white highlight). 
Embroidered White on Black for Red Toad

Still, not bad for my first crocheted toys.  I do plan to eventually make Mario and Luigi.  I even found a cute Yoshi pattern too--but that is for the future.  Next up . . . .

Hmmmm, let me ponder that one for a bit. ;)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Un-knitting: the process of tinking back your work, one stitch at a time, to correct an error; knitting "in reverse" and thus unraveling one's work.

So I resurrected a long hibernating project: my beloved Blue Sprout (first posted about it well over a year ago.  And I also referenced it here).  Last summer, I was making good progress, but then I started working on Xmas gifts.  Then came the blogging gig for Bernat and I had even less time.  So poor Blue Sprout waited in hibernation until . . . this week. 

All the pieces of my SuperMario Toads were complete and even my Bernat project was nearing completion.  I needed something to work on.  And it had to be knitting.  What to do?   What to make?  Blue Sprout to the rescue (the Sprout pattern, designed by Amy King, is offered for free on her website--in case you were wondering).
Sleeves Finally Separated From Body

When I abandoned my project, I was about an inch short from separating the sleeves from the body.  After working on it a bit each day this week, I finally separated the sleeves on Friday.  Hurray! 

Then I noticed a boo-boo--a big one too.  I cast-on my underarm stitches in a place other than under the arms (in my defence, I was talking to a friend and not paying attention . . . ).  Worse yet, I worked almost two rows before realizing my error.  Un-knitting almost 2x200 stitches is not fun--not one bit!
Cable Detail

But it is fixed and being the knitting soldier that I am, I shall tarry onward 'cuz that what knitters do. ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stitching Up Toad

So I started assembling the pieces of one toad.  First, I attached the stuffed mushroom cap to the head using regular white sewing thread.  Looks almost invisible.
Toad's Head

Doesn't his head remind you of an acorn--a rather large one at that?  I used two mushroom stitches to every one head stitch (I pinned everything first).  Then I stuffed and attached the body.
Toad Has a Body

I used tan coloured embroidery floss to attach body to head.  It's barely visible.  My only complaint is that I should have used a smaller hook  (maybe 4.0mm instead of 5.0mm) 'cuz the stuffing is visible through the tan body (although I doubt it will work its way out).  But the boys don't mind (at least, I don't think they even noticed).

Then I attached the vest and arms using red thread.
Toad Dressed Up

I have yet to attach the feet, but I think I'll assemble the other toad before going any further. 

Lovin' the toadie goodness! ;D

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Magazines Galore

Well, maybe not that many . . . but there are knitting magazines.  A lovely surprise arrived in the mail the other day.  I ripped open the envelope and found the summer issue of Knitter's Magazine.
Spring and Summer Knitter's Magazine

Back in May, my brother-in-law had gifted me a year's subscription for my birthday (perhaps I had neglected to mention it)?  He had included the spring issue, but it takes time to process new subscriptions.  There was a chance I would miss the summer issue. . .  Happily I was wrong.

And while we're on the topic of magazines, I managed to pick up the fall issue of Knit Simple (still my favorite knitting magazine 'cuz of the lovely projects--both simple and stylish-- and the large sizing).  There are some nice sweaters (although with the current heat wave, it's hard to think about sweaters).
Fall 2010 of Knit Simple

There are some nice items in the issue, but my fave are the cardigans.  The one I absolutely love is worked in the round.  Check it out:

Seed Stitch Cardigan

Ah, the knitter's perennial lament: so much to make; so little time.

Happy crafting :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Healthy Hands

Holding Hands
(courtesy of

Or not!  Over the past few years, arthritis has crept into my joints--not too bad, but it is an annoyance.  Thankfully knitting and crocheting keep my digits limber.  Unfortunately I hurt my hand a few days ago.  While trying to open a stuck window (curse the rain and humidity), I strained the muscles in my left hand.   Consequently, the crafting has diminished.  Last night, I tried knitting and that wasn't too bad (thankfully I throw with my right hand).  The crocheting I had to limit 'cuz I use my left hand a lot more.

Through blogs and forums, I've often come across posts by crafters re: pain in their hands (usually its about carpal tunnel syndrome). The incident got me thinking about how to avoid strain and pain in my most precious crafting tools: my hands.  Taking lots of breaks is advice I see a lot, but I don't knit or crochet for hours at a time either. 
Thumbs Up
(courtesy of

Recently Interweave Knits' Daily Newsletter posted a few suggestions re: hand exercises.  I did try them out since they were easy to do.  If you think about it, your hands do have to stay limber and relaxed to work well.  I'd also add stretches for arms, neck and shoulders.  Sometimes being in the same position can cause muscle stiffening--at least for me.

On the Ravelry forums, a knitter suggested a visit to the Knitting Guru (love the name and the big Buddha too).  The guru offers various exercises for knitters so they can avoid pain and discomfort.  Good tips I think.
Happy Hand
(courtesy of

Recently, I've seen a plethora of special gloves designed specifically to alleviate the pains and strains suffered by crafters.  About a month, Berroco yarns had a contest for the Handeze glove.  And Mary Maxim had a pair of crafter's gloves in their online and paper catalogues.  Guess they are becoming popular.  Wonder if they work?

Just wonderin': how do you do to keep your hands healthy?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summertime Festivities

There has been crafting (including ripping and re-knitting, but can't show you that 'cuz its for Bernat blog).  The toads are coming along--very slowly.  The hot sticky weather drains all my energy at the end of the day.  So I'm takin' her easy.

Lots of stuff going on in town this weekend with Highland Games.  Its a big cultural event drawing lots of tourists to the area (this year marks 147 years running which makes it the longest consecutive running highland games outside of Scotland.  Canada has only been a country for 143 years, so the event is older than the country). 

First we walked on campus at our local university 'cuz it's so pretty (I get to walk through it often with my toddlers, but hubby and the boys aren't on campus too often).
The Boys Following Their Dad

Campus Gardens

I always thought the campus was pretty.  In fact, I'd dare say town looks lovely during the summer with all the pretty hanging baskets and flower boxes.  It really is very quaint and welcoming.

After our little jaunt 'round campus, we found a nice shady spot under the trees to watch the annual Highland Games Parade.  
Kids Waiting for Parade to Start

The boys enjoyed all the piping bands.  I like them too.

RCMP Piping Band

Another Band on Parade

There's nothing so mournful as hearing all those pipes wailing and the drums pounding in your ears . . . very neat!  And its a big social outing too: feels as if all of town comes out for the parade.  Beside, fun to run into friends and acquaintances.  

Hope your weekend is filled with summertime fun.  Have a good one!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Toadie Cuteness

Remember my plans for toad toys?  Well, I've got the head and its cap completed, but I haven't stuffed or attached them yet (not sure how the two pieces will fit as the cap is quite large relative to the head).
Head Inside Mushroom Cap

My boys asked how I made the sphere with only a hook and yarn? I couldn't answer them. I didn't know how it happened, but a flat circle started to change and became three-dimensional. Pretty cool, huh?  Even without a face, they're so darn cute!

I'm working the two toads at the same time.  It'll take a little longer to complete, but at least both boys will have their beloved toads at roughly the same time.  Right now, I'm working on the bodies.
Head with Body (Minus Mushroom Cap)

Even without a face, they're so darn cute! 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

How's your Canada Day so far?
Flag courtesy of

Don't ya just love a day off mid week?  Yesterday felt like Friday (but it was only Wednesday).  Tomorrow is actually Friday, so I've got two Saturdays to play--and maybe crochet for fun . . .

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can spend some time outdoors (summer weather has been sporadic at best).  It would be nice to participate in some of the Canada Day festivities happening 'round town.

Have a great Canada Day!
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