Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last post of 2009

This was our tree. Same old plastic tree we have had for years, and, as ever, we said we must get a bigger one because our ornaments collection keeps getting bigger. I think you can see a souvenir of Newfoundland, an old heat sink from a computer, kid-crafted items of all shapes and sizes, a bit of plastic from a broken bike reflector... The usual assortment at our place!

We had a fine Christmas morning, with goodies all around. Next year just might be the year of cooking, instead of the year of lace or the year of socks. I got a new Jamie Oliver book and the kids and I decided Stephen needed a book about Asian dumplings and a bamboo steamer! Everything sounds so yummy!

We spent Boxing Day lolling around, and then got in a rental car and went for a little trip:

Destination: Ottawa. Not quite the Caribbean, but Mommy didn't have to cook! We stayed in a hotel where we actually had plenty of room and a little kitchen so we could keep milk and make toast and coffee for breakfast. We just spent a couple of days there, going to museums (Civilization, and then Nature for the girls and Aviation for the boys) and visiting friends and relations.

This is, of course, a real Tyrannosaurus Rex, about to chomp the hand of some unsuspecting child. Actually, it's a model in the Nature museum ... It was fun to see the "flesh and blood" dinosaurs along with the skeletons. This T Rex had been in a little skirmish and our 8-year-old tour guide, a friend's daughter, happily showed us the wounds on its flank!

A ceiling at the Civilization Museum! My kind of colour wheel!

My uncle showed Arthur and Stephen the Aviation Museum, complete with Lancaster bomber from WWII.

Some gates on Parliament Hill,

and a stone pillar, covered in a thin layer of ice. Luckily we missed the freezing rain by a day or two!

The ride home. I was bored; Stephen was driving. I had taken some yarn and needles for the ride, but found that I needed smaller needles. Aha, a good excuse to go to a yarn shop on the way to a museum... But when I got back in the passenger seat with nothing to do, I was sick of the yarn and had no ideas about what I wanted to do with it! Perhaps another day I'll show you the doodle I knitted...

Tonight, who knows? Nothing very exciting will happen, and tomorrow it will be 2010! There will be knitting Olympics, and I am chuffed about that -- more later!

Monday, December 21, 2009

We have cookies but no snow

Chocolate cookie dough, rolled in sprinkles, with a Hershey's kiss jammed into each cookie when they are hot out of the oven. The kiss melts a bit and glues itself to the cookie. They are a bit decadent!

And now I am off to the store for some real food.

If I don't manage to make it back to blogland over the next few days, I wish you all health and happiness and good eats!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is an ad, but so funny

Folks, lovers of fine knitwear, you have to go here, to see how our knitted creations are appreciated... It's an ad for Mini Coopers, but, really, it's a love letter to the holiday intarsia masterpieces of days gone by.

I hope Arthur doesn't mind lending his face for this project...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The gingerbread house

I'm pleased to present this year's gingerbread house. We make one every year -- that is to say, we buy the prefab house and icing at the grocery store and put it all together -- but I do not have a whole series of pictures for you. Hmm, they have not been blogworthy in the past??

Here is one previous attempt. We've perhaps become less crazy with the icing over the years.

There will be knitting news one of these days -- I just need a moment to sit down and sort myself out. Maybe in a week or two!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Another side of winter

Ah, we have the Christmas cookies, the beautiful amaryllis... and the snow. Toronto went without snow till now -- we had the first snowless November in recorded history. So, it's giving it a try now, but with temperatures going up to +4 today, it'll just be a miserable slushy day.

Our back porch after Stephen and Elaine left for school.

There's rather a lot of prints, because you have to go part way, then remember you need shoes for when you're inside at school, turn around, tramp back into the house, then out again. Ick.

But, the amaryllis is just peacefully growing and flourishing.

I wonder what kind of creature it needs to pollinate it. Look at that inviting display!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Amaryllis watch, 2009

One thing I like about the Christmas season is the amaryllis! We put lights on the house and we put up a tree a week or two before the 25th, but we don't go all out with decorations around the house. I have never really got on with poinsettias -- messy once they start to go, and for me, impossible to revive after the initial colourful display. But an amaryllis is a marvel! You buy a box with a pot, a gigantic bulb and a puck of dehydrated growing medium, and a few weeks later you get this great big fantastic looking flower! With the promise of more to come!

This is what my amaryllis looked like on Thursday.

And this is what it looked like Friday morning.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Oh, I'm quick

Since I had a few wee rows to do, it's not a big surprise.

The "knot" where one end goes through a casing at the other end.

The scarf resting among the last crazy marigolds.

Now I can return to the denim cardigan and polish that off.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What's going to happen in December

I wrote goals for November, but I think I didn't post them! I'll tell you now what they were:
  1. Finish the denim cardigan
  2. Finish one front of the Noro cardigan
  3. Finish a sock
So. I have sort of finished the denim cardigan. The body went into the wash yesterday, so it just needs sewing up. If I make that a December goal, I'll almost certainly meet it!

The others, no... Although I really want to start something new, I will put November's 2 and 3 as December's 2 and 3, after the cardi.

Oh, and in the middle of all this, I seem to have started something different! I was in the new Anthropologie store in town and saw some cute little scarves -- you know, the kind people's grandmothers knit for them in the 1960s, little bow-tie like things. I found this pattern on Ravelry.

It's clearly for another year's Anthropologie scarf, because this year they are garter stitch with a simple cable and bobble pattern going up the middle! However, I liked the texture of this one and am making one for Elaine, using a ball of Rowan 4-ply wool that was this year's "free gift" when I subscribed to the magazines, held together with some sparkly sock yarn I picked up recently.

The sparkles make it look like it's just dusted with snow! I think I have the colour called Acai. It looks better in real life -- neither the flash nor the dull morning light show it to advantage.

Shortly, though, we will have a completed scarf, which might even get modeled if I ask nicely. Stay tuned -- you might get 2 finished objects before you know it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting somewhere slowly

At least a year after starting this baby, I have finished most of the knitting on the big crazy denim cardigan. I have to sew some ends in, do a buttonband (okay, so look for that in another year or so...), throw it in the wash to shrink it, attach the sleeves, sew a few seams, find buttons. Yikes.

Here are some of my favourite bits.

You may have seen this before. It is a knit-and-purl combo from Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan book. I love the way it looks! One day I'll make something bigger than 6 inches out of it!

This is, I think, the pattern used for Cookie A's Monkey socks, but I got it from Jan Eaton's 200 Knitted Blocks.

Zigzag seed stitch, so cool! I bought myself the 2010 Vogue Knitting calendar, which has a stitch pattern almost every day (Saturday and Sunday are combined). It is sort of useless as a calendar, but fine as a swatch library, with lace, cables and just neat textures.

The cause of much moaning and groaning! This is the emblem from Alice Starmore's Sigil (on Ravelry). I'm not sure it was a good choice to use with the denim yarn -- won't things get all squished when it shrinks in length? That centre bit is quite dense! It was great fun decreasing from 7 stitches to 1 at the top of the loops, but some rows of the chart also took me a couple of tries to get right.

When I last mentioned this cardigan, I showed you the 1.5 fronts, and said, "I'm thinking of simplifying life by making the back rather... simpler... than the fronts." Well, there go those good plans, out the window again!

Here's the front, and those simple single-coloured sleeves:

And here's most of the back -- minus just a couple of inches. Excuse the cable needle stuck in there!

As you can see, my inspiration went from the simplicity of Narvik (Ravelry link) to the chaos of the Gwithian Blanket. (I looked for an online image of that lovely thing, but the best I came up with is Kay's post about it, on Mason-Dixon Knitting.)

I am happy to know I have actually made great progress on this, and am learning once again the Big Rule: if you work on it, it will get done, and if you don't, it won't. I shall continue to plug along.

Have you ever seen such a hot pink and orange combo!? Just lookie at that! Hoo-ee!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stitch & Bitch, old style

Spinning, weaving and yakking in the olden days...

This is a window in the old Household Science building at the University of Toronto. There are other images of people cooking and doing domestic things, in various states of mostly modest disarray.

The place now houses a Club Monaco store, and the university Classics department!

And all thanks to Mrs Lillian Massey Treble, who gave the building in the first place!

This shows the exterior. Their facts are a bit out of date -- the ombudsman has gone, and although the pool is locked away, it's not under a false floor.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fossil hat

Once upon a time I bought this Kureyon yarn to make a Fake Isle hat, planning maybe to jiggle the pattern to make it all look like mud cracks. But, alas, the best laid plans gang aft agley, as they say.

I decided it was perfect for a Trilobite hat.

Naturally, I ran out of yarn a few short rows from the end... So we have a bit of Paton's Classic grey, and a bit of Lamb's Pride oyster, or eggshell, or some other word meaning "almost white." The trilobite is not especially clear here, but having looked at fossils here and there, I can say that this in fact reflects nature.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I took my camera today

Some pretty leaf pictures, made into a mosaic at BigHugeLabs. It was a perfect day, blue sky, not cold. The leaves, which were exceptionally lovely this year, are mostly finished for the season, but some remain -- we even saw roses.

Elaine needed snow pants, so we went downtown, through Christmas decorations and leftover Halloween decorations and lots of people.

It's very hard to take a picture of a window on a sunny day, but here's Holt Renfrew's festive take on Swan Lake! (Do click to embiggen and enjoy the ballerinas among the swans.)

We're now ready for snow, but I'm not sure we're ready for the onslaught of Christmas decorations quite this early!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Book club

I have lots of great knitting books. I have so many patterns -- old magazines, new magazines, crazy patterns I would never knit, multi-coloured intarsia sweaters I love to look at but would never wear, and lots and lots of things I would enjoy knitting and wearing, some I've been meaning to make for years! I don't have a yarn stash that threatens to overwhelm me, but the patterns -- certainly I've reached SABLE* status with them!

So. What to do?

I have 2 sweaters for myself on the needles right now. I have 2 socks partly done. I have at least 2 blankets on the go, which haven't seen action in ages.

I am supposed to be making 52 things in 52 weeks, and I have got 26 done in 22 weeks. Although I'm "supposed to" do this, no one is making me, and I am not going to do anything drastic because of this "commitment." (I can always spend the last 2 weeks churning out dishcloths and hats if need be!)

I am also "supposed to" spend Wednesdays working on UFOs. Ha. Haven't thought of that in a while, although one of the sweaters I'm working on these days is certainly a UFO.

What if I picked a book a month and made a small thing out of it?

I can't really just whip up an Alice Starmore aran sweater, or a Rowan Denim gansey, in a month, in between other projects, but I could do a swatch or two... try out a cable pattern or a Kaffe Fassett colour design on a small scale. At least flip through a book and spend a moment deciding what I really like?

I have enough Vogue Knitting issues to keep me busy for years with this plan.... This is a fact that doesn't cheer me...

Would that just lead to more UFOs, as I decide I really do want to make the full aran? Could I start yet another blanket project by saying I'll make all my swatches similar enough in colour and weight to sew them all together at the end of the year?

All this agonizing... Should I agonize about it? I'll ponder this book club idea, and maybe start next month. (That gives me a good three and a half weeks! I'll have completely changed my mind by then!)

All this hand-wringing makes me just want to sit and daydream about Daniel Craig:

*SABLE = Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Easing back into this

I took some pictures and just had to show them, so I guess my blog-free time is over. But I just came up with the idea of a Ravelry-free week, so I might do that next week -- can't do it just now, as I am meeting a fellow Raveler this week to sell her some magazines, and must keep in touch!

So, it was Halloween. Our neighbourhood association organized a Pumpkin Patch in the park -- we all took our pumpkins over there the evening of Nov. 1, and lit them up along a path. Lovely, though they had run out of hot chocolate by the time Elaine and I went over.

And this is the grisly scene Monday morning! Pumpkin carnage. They then all got picked up by some friendly guys who took them off to the city compost dump.

The other big event in the 'hood this weekend was a fire! Hmm, perhaps a Halloween party with candles? I don't know, but early Saturday morning our bus was rerouted because there were firetrucks on the main street, putting out a fire, above a place called the Children's Storefront. See the cheery mural on the exposed wall!

The Storefront was a place you could take little children to play, and many neighbourhood moms and nannies relied on it! I rarely took my kids there, because I found it was grimy in my day, and people smoked -- wow, that must have been in the 20th century -- but I spent many evenings there at La Leche League meetings, and it certainly is a loss for the local under-4 set!

Friday, October 30, 2009

This isn't really blogging

Have a verrrrry scarrrrry Halloween.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We'll be back, after ... a while

I'm taking a little blog leave. Nothing catastrophic, but I just am going to experiment with a no-blog-writing life for maybe a month.

I wonder what will happen if I don't post for a month -- probably nothing at all! But let's try...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Make me a colourway like this

My knitting energies today were mainly spent on trying to get 12-year-olds to progress beyond the cast-on row. Jeez, the little kids I knit with last year were keener, I think! How do I get these dopey boys to want to knit?

Arthur and one of the girls have got it down. I must persevere with the others, since they want to make a blanket for charity this year.

Anyways, on the way home from my slightly frustrating knitting session at Arthur's school, I saw lots of slightly turning leaves.

The sky was blue, grey, white... The leaves were gold, bright green, reddish, orange, brown, dark green, yellow...

Friday, October 09, 2009

When in doubt, find a UFO

I have a request out to a friend for an old VK pattern that might meet my requirements for a Kureyon sock yarn sweater, but she is being dilatory. Also, I haven't made my mind up about anything... Here are two crazy options, both Ravelry links: Lace Panel cardigan, and the Short-Sleeve cardigan. That last is tempting, but would it look like I was stretching my buttons to have that zig-zag edge in the front? It would get the stripes going all directions, which I like. More pondering...

But meanwhile, I have found my old friend, the denim mishmash cardigan.

I have progressed a bit further than that, and will likely have two complete fronts by the end of the weekend. Maybe even by the end of this evening if things go right! I'm thinking of simplifying life by making the back rather... simpler... than the fronts. Maybe do the leaf pattern from the sleeves up the back?

Tomorrow, if it doesn't continue to pour rain, I shall take the bits outside to the natural light and take a few photos. But for now, hmmm, what shall I show you?

How about Door #4 at the Wychwood Barns? From a few weekends ago, a sunny Saturday when we went to the market there.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thinking about the Noro cardigan

Now that I have my striping Noro yarn, and my resolution to make a sweater out of it, I am reminded of why I haven't done this before... Those stripes kinda annoy me!

If I make a top-down raglan -- which is simple, not much sewing, sizing easy to figure out -- I'll have a yoke of narrow stripes that go all the way round, then a bit wider stripes on the body, also the same all round, and really wide stripes on the sleeves, and those likely won't match. I think it'll look odd.

If I make it in bits, I can mismatch things with a bit of planning, and even do the Rosedale thing of sticking a block in somewhere to break up the stripes. More work, likely more to my taste when done.

Do I make it with patterned raglan sleeves, like this sweater that started this whole train of thought?

What if I do a bit of a chevron stitch to give some movement to the stripes -- would that make the sleeves ridiculously fiddly to attach to the body? Should I do the whole thing in the same slightly chevrony stitch?

And the big question, to which I already know the answer: Do I really have to make a proper swatch? Can't I just make it up as I go along?

Right. I'll keep going for a bit!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ready for Halloween

I made a Hallowig.

I ran out of my glow-in-the-dark yarn.

I had some fun fur.
Now I have a glow-in-the-dark, slightly mohawkish headdress for Halloween.
I wonder if either of the kids will dare to wear it!