Sunday, August 31, 2008

Barely Conscious

I don't know how I ever thought that a long weekend was restful. They aren't. Long weekends are like your average, run of the mill DORMA (Day Of Rest My Arse) days, multiplied by three. I wouldn't even be blogging except that Phil is working on a new tail for his kite, so I've got a couple of free minutes. I'd ask for some leeway when it comes to spelling and, you know, coherence, because I'm absolutely, positively knackered.

Huh. You know, now that I think of it, I can't even recall what we did yesterday? Other than groceries, laundry, and all that other stuff working families do on Saturdays. Not a clue. I do remember that we had gone to bed late on Friday night (you know, 'cause it's the weekend?) and then were woken up at 5:15 in the morning by Maxime's increasingly insistent "MaMa!!!"s.

Sigh. I love my kids, but will someone please tell me when they're going to sleep in on weekends? I'm not greedy. I'd like to sleep until 7. Is that too much to ask???

We also hit what we call "disgust overload" as far as clutter and cleanliness were concerned. Disgust Overload is when you've been cruising along, oblivious to the grime and ever-surmounting crap that seems to multiply like bunnies in a house with 2 young kids, and then, all of a sudden, it all hits you at once, and you JUST CAN'T LOOK AT IT ANOTHER STINKIN' MINUTE. This usually happens to one or the other parent. But this Saturday it hit us BOTH at the same time.

So we did some reorganizing, cleared out some toys the kids never play with, organized a couple of closets. Then we took it one step further and looked beyond the furniture and the toys and the stuff, and actually looked at the WALLS.

Dudes. Holes, scratches, cracks. And the baseboards? Ugh. We shan't speak of those. Anyway, Phil whipped up a batch of plaster, plugged in all the holes, and we vowed to repaint all the affected rooms, one room per weekend (which should keep us busy until, oh, Thanksgiving).

So when we got home from the Fête de la Famille this afternoon (and were lucky enough the be able to transfer BOTH kids to their respective beds for a well deserved nap), I trotted myself out to the local deco store and picked up a bucket of paint. I was a woman on a mission, people, and I would NOT be shaken from my goal.

Our downstairs bathroom/laundry room will be going from brown to a lovely pale blue. Am I tired? Yes. But I did discover one thing today: Kids make for excellent slaves ;)

Happy Knitting Everyone! (Not that I actually got to knit today... Grumble, grumble...)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Smokin' in the Sizzle

I finished Sizzle on Tuesday night, and I'm very happy with it. I haven't had much luck with garments, but I really feel like I've been turning a new leaf over the past year.

In honour of this latest FO, I thought I'd introduce a new series: Things I Learned from Knitting this Garment.
  1. Reading the pattern ahead of time is a good idea: I really got it together this time, even highlighting all the appropriate instructions for my measurements. Good thing too, because if I hadn't, the simultaneous dart shaping, armhole shaping and neck decreases would have driven me to alcohol.
  2. Decrease does NOT mean cast off. Whenever I used to work armhole or neck shaping, if the pattern said something like "Cast off 5 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows, then 3 stitches at the beginning of next 2 rows, then decrease 1 stitch at each edge on every RS row 5 times", I would promptly cast off 5, then 3, then 1 at the beginning and end of every RS row 5 times. Then while knitting this project it hit me : If she meant cast off, wouldn't she have said cast off? A little light went on in my head, people, and I happily k2tog and ssk'd my way through the armhole and neck shaping (one stitch in from the edge, no less!). Made the finishing MUCH easier (but you all knew that already).
  3. I'm tall (5 feet 10 inches, to be precise). You'd think that at 32 years of age, I'd already know this, but hey, I'm a work in progress. Being tall, I generally like my garments to be longer than average. So in the future, not only will I read through the pattern in its entirety, I will also check the detailed dimensions of the finished garment (beyond the bust measurements, which is all I look at now) in order to make the appropriate shaping decisions. Luckily, it worked out this time. I might have made it an inch longer, but I can live with that.
I'm itching to work on the Celtic Tote, but I think I'm going to try and get another project off the needles before I work on that one. I just know if I get into it, it'll lead me to utter ruin (OK, not really, but I'll work on it to the detriment of other, more pressing, projects).

Thanks for all the positive feedback on my new blog banner! I'm very excited about it. It was designed by a wonderful, talented graphic artist I found on Etsy, Malien00. Check out her shop! She's got some really adorable note cards and other stationary, and is available for custom orders. Thanks so much Mel! It's been a real pleasure working with you.

OK, I'll end this post with this week's Secret Pal 12 question of the week (you may have noticed I slacked off on those for a while, I really had no idea what to answer the last few weeks.

A project or technique that you've tackled and completed beautifully. What is your proudest knitting moment??

I guess the project I'm most proud of right now is Emilie's Good Stripe Dress. It wasn't that complicated technique-wise, but it just turned out sooooo great, and she loves it to bits (and as you know, a 4-year old being pleased with a hand knit item is a feat so rare as to be considered urban legend in some knitting circles).

And on the flip side? What is the one thing that you can't get right? What is that one project that you've never been able to complete? Or that you did complete but then hid away instantly because it was too embarrassing?

The project that springs to mind is my first sweater. I was a Fair Isle from a Létt-Lopi pattern. I'd never worked with more than one colour, I'd never knit in the round, I'd never heard of swatching... But I didn't let any of that phase me, and I just kept knitting. I suppose that, when you factor all that in, it's actually pretty good. But I'd never wear it. No way.

Especially not when I can wear this...

After all, like Wendy Bernard says, sometimes it's all about the sizzle...

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fibonacci style

In addition to being an obsessive planner, I'm also never satisfied. Perhaps these two aspects of my personality go hand in hand. Whatever the reason may be, it seems that whatever I do, whatever I've accomplished, it's never enough. I can always do more. I was pondering this on my way to work this morning, when it hit me: I live life Fibonacci style (in the Fibonacci sequence, the first and second numbers are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is equal to the sum of the two previous numbers in the sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on) - thus, the sequence is ever expanding).

For instance, it wasn't enough to sing in a choir. No, I had to volunteer to become a member of the board of directors, then to take on all funding responsibilities, then to make all the music sheet copies... At home, I'm constantly trying out new recipes to become a better cook, when I should really just keep dishing out the same old boring favourites, because most new recipes are met with skepticism (Émilie practically cried when presented with this über-delicious Sausage-Rapini Lasagna, and Phil wasn't that impressed either).

The same can be said of my knitting and stash acquisition. No longer am I a casual knitter who only buys yarn for a specific project, or who knits one project at a time for that matter. No, now I've got a stash and a blog and I'm thinking about spinning and designing and who knows what else!

Phil and I even argue Fibonacci style. Something as mundane as your run-of-the-mill "Is it that much trouble to pick up after yourself?" can quickly escalate into looming divorce if it goes unchecked.

I had ample time to reflect upon this on my loooong drive into work this morning. Yes, you read that correctly. I drove. When I arrived at the metro station, there was an interruption of service on the orange line, between Montmorency and Berri-UQAM stations (wouldn't you know it? EXACTLY where I get on and off), so I had to drive in. On the worst traffic day of the year (Back to School day).

I wish I had pictures of Sizzle to show you, but the finishing is taking me FOREVER. I hate picking up stitches, weaving in ends, seaming, blaaaaahhhh... But since I'm trying to do it all the "right way", it's taking me a really long time. If all goes well, I should finish the first armhole trim tonight. Nevertheless, I've tried it on already and it looks pretty good, if a bit short (I should have added on a few more inches before starting the waist shaping). I'm SO not ripping back though, so I may go through the lovely and talented Jennifer's archives. If memory serves, she had a similar issue when knitting her son Jakob's Superman costume. Help me, Jenni wan Kenobi! You're my only hope! :)

Lastly, I want to give a big shout out to my secret pal. I received my third package in the mail yesterday, and it's awesome!

I got 2 skeins of sock yarn, including this cool, technically-not-a-skein skein of Flat Feet. I'd never heard of this yarn, but the colours are awesome, so I'm looking forward to knitting it up (some day!). Plus some sheep notecards (a knitter can't have too many of those), some great Christmas cards, some Lush products (would you believe I've never tried Lush? Shocking, I know), and last but not least, some hand made items: a lovely scarf knit in beautiful Malabrigo (I love the colours, they're so vibrant! Very me) and a small project pouch.

Thank you Secret Pal! :)

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Always Thinking Ahead

*Warning - possible risqué content below*

Hello, My name is Tara, and I'm a closet mental-masturbator.

Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I'm a planner. I love to look ahead and set up goals for myself, I love to organize and write lists. In fact, with me planning takes on such a scope that, more often than not, whether I actually end up DOING what I've been planning for becomes irrelevant. By feverishly planning, I've burned the candles at both ends, and the spark that got the whole ball going burns itself out.

Why am I talking about this? Because it seems that, over the past few weeks, all I've been doing is planning, thinking about things I want to do. Financial planning, weightloss and fitness planning, vacation planning... There must be something in the air, because even Phil, who's a total "live in the now" kind of guy, surprised the crap out of me last night by asking me, out of the blue, what I wanted to do with my life that I hadn't done yet (and that didn't involve traveling, which is too easy).

Financial planning: I've already decided not to buy yarn until Rhinebeck, and it's working out quite well. The propensity towards planning rather than DOING is actually working in my favour on this one. I can look at yarn online all I want, but don't actually BUY anything.

This is a widdle baby goal, however. Phil and I have been debating whether we want to move into a new house or renovate our current one, and have been tossing the pros and cons back and forth for the past few weeks. Again, this whole issue might peter itself out before we decide on anything, but it's still quite the conundrum.

Fitness and weightloss planning: I've been looking at pictures of myself taken over the summer, and I'm not happy. While the baby weight from Maxime was going down for a while, I suspect it's coming back on (I guess I can't really call it baby weight anymore, Maxime being 15 months old and all). I've analyzed the situation at length, and these are the facts:
  • I don't exercise. Ever. I'm not going to say I exercise moderately, because that'd be a lie. I've been completely inactive since returning home from Japan. Furthermore,
  • I'm not willing to give up my leisure time. When the kids are in bed, I want to sit on the couch and knit, and nothing on this earth is going to deter me from that. Accepting this is key.
  • I don't eat right. OK, I don't eat junk food (mostly because I don't want my kids to eat junkfood), but I'm fond of sweets, and my portions have gotten substantially larger over the past few months.
So I've come up with a goal and a plan (surprise!!!). I'm embarking on a healthy eating plan (not a crazy "half-a-grapefruit-for-breakfast-and-broth-for-dinner" diet) and taking up a fitness program. Genius, right???

What's the diet? Reduce my portions, drink plenty of water, go vegetarian for lunch. No alcohol or sweets during the week, and only moderately on weekends.

The workout plan? Since I'm unwilling to give up my evenings, I've only got one option left to me: my lunch hour at work. I checked out a Curves located within walking distance from the office this week, and I think I'm going to sign up. If I can do that 30-minute program, 3 times a week (during my lunch hour), I'll be happy.

My goal? To fit comfortable into these jeans.

Ugh. I bought these before I got pregnant with Émilie and, even at my thinnest, they were tight (they shrank after washing. No really, they DID). They may never become my favourite pair, but I'd like to be able to get them past my knees (which I can't do anymore). I estimate I'd probably have to lose at LEAST 12 pounds to make that happen.

Vacation planning: Phil has to go to Paris for work this Fall. I want to go. Never mind that I haven't finished paying for my trip to Japan (which may enter into conflict with the above-mentioned financial planning). It's Paris, I've never been there, I wanna go.

Plus, Phil and I have racked up a staggering amount of Aeroplan miles (Thank you CIBC!), so I'd like to use them for a family trip. Probably a pipe-dream though (free flights does not equal free trip).

Wow! Well, never let it be said that I don't dream BIG! :)

On the knitting front, I've almost completed the front of Sizzle. Stamina is key now, people. No matter what, I must NOT fizzle on the sizzle! We're entering the dreaded assembly and finishing stage of this project, which is where I usually falter. Gotta keep it up, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

I also cast on a new pair of socks for some easy commuter knitting. The baby pinwheel, with about 500 stitches on the needles, was just getting to be too much. Unfortunately, as this is destined for the gift pile, I can't show you any progress on that one. Check out my projects on Ravelry if you're so inclined (just not NOW, I haven't put up pictures yet).

Yes folks, I've begun my Christmas knitting. A few nights ago I dreamt that it December 23rd, and I didn't have a single present bought. Not a one. I woke up with a start, and cast on those socks the next day.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Still Me!

As you've probably noticed, I've changed the template on my blog. The other one (I believe it was called Thisaway Rose) was just too distinctive, and every time I see it used by someone else (Destroy My Sweater, Knitterings, Scarf Style KAL, It's all about hastening.... slowly, and on and on and on..), I jump and have to refrain myself from screaming "Hey!!!! That's MY blog!!!! Quit it!!!" at the computer screen.

This one is simple, elegant, and best of all, easily adaptable. I'm going to see about getting a niftier header, but this should be the one. I hope it isn't too disruptive to y'all.

More later (I've got a proper post all written up, just waiting for pictures).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to Life

Holidays are over and I'm back at work which, while it sucks, should (hopefully) allow me to post more frequently. What does it say about my life that only when I'm working can I find the time for knit-related activities such as blog reading and posting. Oh well...

Yesterday's return to work did not go smoothly. It was like the Fates decided that returning to the daily grind wasn't enough of a bummer, and threw a series of obstacles in my path to make it more interesting.

Obstacle the First: Arrive at the metro station, find I can't locate my parking pass. Search every nook and cranny (which I shouldn't have had to do, since I haven't used the darn thing in 3 weeks - stands to reason it would be where I left it, right?), but can't find it. Further investigation reveals that Phil probably threw it out when he took my car to go to the kite festival a few weekends ago (as he put it "he found it on the ground beside the car" and chucked it). Pay for parking.

Obstacle the Second: Having purchased metro tickets, wait in line behind the morons from another planet who are taking forever to purchase their own tickets, rather than just getting them at the automated machine like yours truly. After about 5 minutes, when head is about to explode clean off shoulders, realize I don't have to give my ticket to the attendant, I can just put it in the machine all by myself (who's the moron NOW?).

Obstacle the Third: Upon arriving at the office, realize I've forgotten the code to the front door.

Obstacle the Fourth: Upon sitting down at my desk, realize they've changed my password to my computer. Comprehension of why I was unable to log on to my office email from home begins to dawn.

Obstacle the Fifth: When returning home, Fates create a monster traffic jam in path, transforming a pleasant 10 minute drive to a 30 minute crawl. Of course, haveforgotten my phone at home, so can't call to give Phil the heads up. Arrive late to an exasperated husband and hysterical children (well, Maxime anyway, Émilie was watching Tarzan), reheat the previous night's dinner and attempt to compensate for the less than stellar meal with big bowls of ice cream. When kids are in bed, knit and watch final episode of season 4 of Angel with Phil.

I had fully intended to blog during my lunch hour, but since I lost my parking pass, I had to go down to the parking office and retrieve a new pass. Try to picture how dumbfounded I was when the attendant told me "That will be 20$ please". For a stinkin' card?!?!? Luckily, the Fates threw me a bone on that one, because the lovely young lady looked me over and said "I'll write it up as a replacement for a defective document. No charge".

Gack... I hate Mondays, don't you?

But it's Tuesday now! Clean slate. Cool slate too (it was decidedly chilly this morning). I left the house with my parking pass AND my phone, and made tonight's dinner yesterday, so everything should be fine. Heck, I may even have time to photograph my latest finished object after the kids are in bed!

Yup, I finished Phil's Luxor socks (Ravelry link here, non-Ravelry link here). I'm really happy with them, and so is Phil. I weighed what was left of my skein after I was done, and I think I used up about 399 yards on this pair, which means I probably could have used the Cowboy merino/tencel that Phil wanted after all (that skein was 400 yards). Still, it would have been stressful to the very end.

I actually offered to make him another pair with that yarn and shorten the leg a bit, just to be on the safe side. "With the same pattern?" he said. "You don't like this pattern?" I reply, trying to keep any hint of agressiveness out of my voice and avoiding eye contact. "Yeah, I do. It's just that, well, I really liked the socks you made for yourself last time. The ones with the cool ankle". I think a second, then realize he means the Firestarter socks, and their admittedly fabulous gusset (a Yarnissima trademark, from what I can tell).

I did a quick search, and settled on Fratello (Ravelry link here, non-Ravelry link here) as a suitable pattern. I unfortunately don't have any Wollmeise just lying around in the stash, but I think some lovely Dream in Color smooshy should work well.

It'll have to wait though. I'm still working on Sizzle (I've finished the back, and am about halfway through the front), I've got the Celtic Tote waiting in the wings, and I've got the Baby Pinwheel to finish (I've got some issues regarding the border for that project, more on that in a future post). Plus, I think I should get the jump on some Christmas knitting. Finances are a wee bit tight lately, so knitting gifts from stash sounds like a good plan right now.

Oh! And this past Sunday was my one year blogaversary! Woo-Hoo Dear Knits!!! Here's hoping there are many more to come.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If ever a whiz there was

The past week has just whizzed by, despite the fact that time seemed to stand still at times (usually when both kids were whining in our ears). My girlfriend Nadine (Hi Nads!) who just recently moved back to Canada from Japan (she's a lurker) actually asked me what I was knitting the other day, which tells me that it's high time I blogged already.

I can't possibly recap all the events of the past seven days, so I'll just give you the highlights. First, an important announcement: Phil and I bought a new house!

OK, just kidding. That's the front of Manoir Papineau, a Historic Site of Canada right next to the Château Montebello, where Phil took the kids and I for a quick visit on Tuesday. It's a really beautiful property. Unfortunately weren't able to visit the inside, because you have to make reservations, and this was a spur of the moment thing. Still, it was lovely.

In the midst of all that beauty, Émilie stayed true to form and managed to spot the most yucky grubby thing she could get her hands on (in this case, it was the discarded skin of a cicada - yum). And Maxime?He hadn't slept since that morning, not even on the hour plus car ride down there, so he was absolutely zonked by the time we visited the manor house (at around 5:15 in the afternoon).

Wednesday we went to nearby Omega Park and fed the animals.
It was lots of fun, but boy, they aren't kidding when they tell you to keep the windows rolled up halfway! These animals are NOT shy about scoring some fresh produce!

Maxime slept most of the way through the visit (he did manage a few squeals of surprise when the first band of elk moseyed on over to the car), but Émilie had a blast.

Just to show you that Maxime didn't sleep through the entire mini-vacation (believe me, he didn't), here's a picture of him basking in the glow of a Monosodium glutamate high (courtesy of the greasy hot dogs and fries we ate on the way home Wednesday afternoon).But pray, what of knitting?

Weeellll, you'll recall that last weekend Phil left me alone with the cherubs to go to the Grands Airs de Varennes kite festival (oooh! that reminds me! Check out pictures of his Jordan 200 kite here! Seriously, it's worth the detour). I scored some yarn money out of that deal (guilt money!!!), and since I was heading to Ariadne anywaaay.... I bought this lovely Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace (Ravelry link). I may have mentioned that I'm going through severe lace withdrawal...So of course, I cast on for the Celtic Tote (Ravelry link) :) (hey, it's MY knitting, it doesn't have to make sense to anyone but me).I know, I know, it's not the moss green that Kate-the-Enabler gave me for my birthday. Honestly, I really only wanted to exchange one skein for a contrast colour. But when I spotted that Fuchsia, the game was up. I'm a sucker for the vibrant pink. I was briefly concerned about the colour not being, you know, Celtic-y? But a quick consult with Kate (who's pretty much an expert of all things Celtic, at least in my limited circle of friends) assured me that them there Celts were a pretty flamboyant bunch, and that, had they been able to produce a shade that brilliant, you bet your britches that they would have used it.Good enough for me! I'm absolutely loving it. Especially the cabling without a cable needle (makes me feel like a Knitter with a capital "K"). I can't wait to see it with the contrasting embroidery.

OK, that's it, I'm beat, and I wanna get some knitting time in before I collapse.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Might as Well Blog

I was supposed to go to Knit Night at Ariadne this evening, after having spent the entire day keeping the kids (mostly Émilie, actually) out of the way while Phil worked on the tail for his kite. Knit night was supposed to be sort of a "calm before the storm" kind of thing, because Phil will be leaving me all weekend with the kids while he attends the Grands Airs de Varennes festival. Call it incentive. Alison and Audrey invited me to join them, and I was really looking forward to it.

Then, disaster struck:
The tail of his Jordan 200 kite, which is supposed to be in a spiraling motif that gradually tapers down to nothing (kind of like a 160 foot long wind sock), seems to have flared rather than tapered, and all's pretty much shot to s**t. What was I supposed to do? Say "Oh well, that bites the big one. See Ya!!!".

Of course I stayed home. I took the kids upstairs right after dinner and gave them their bath and put them to bed. I think it's fair to say that I'm owed big time.

But hey, at least now I've got time to blog, right??? :)

Crap, what the heck have I been up to over the past few days?

Oh!!!! It was Émilie's birthday on Sunday!!! My baby is 4 years old, I can't believe it! I know that those if you who have older kids probably know that 4 is still plenty young, but I just can't believe how grown up she is now. I mean, she's riding a two-wheeler now!!!! (OK, with training wheels, but still...)

Although, tell me you can look at that picture and not think of this :)

LOL! I can't help it, every time she straps that helmet on, Rick Moranis pops into my head.

Anyway, the party went great. We had invited a few friends from her daycare, as well as some friends of ours. Kate-the-Enabler and clan weren't able to make it, unfortunately. They were in quarantine, Liam having come down with the dreaded Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Even though it sometimes felt like total chaos (5 kids all sugared up can be quite a handful!), it was lots of fun, and I'm glad Émilie had the chance to have her friends over.

This week has been pretty slow. We've mainly been staying around the house, taking day trips to the Biodôme and stuff like that. Evenings are spent knitting and sewing.

I finished the Lace Ribbon Scarf!
Photos of me wearing it will have to wait, I'm afraid. I did my best today using the mirror, but I think I really need Phil on this one, and he's been a little preoccupied, to say the least.

Despite my trepidations, I also cast on for Sizzle using the über-splitty Estelle Mystik DK. It's actually not too bad when you get the hang of it, and it makes for nice TV watching knitting. Hopefully I'll be able to wear it before the summer is out.Finally, I'll leave you with this picture of the loot from today's foray into the garden. My cherry tomato and cucumber plants have really started to kick it into gear, and my zucchini seems to be recovering from whatever was causing it's flowers to drop dead, at least for now. I'm enjoying the fresh vegetables, even if the Émilie seems to be more interested in growing them that in actually eating them.Happy Knitting Everyone!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bad Blogger

I've been wondering all day if it's better to put up a really lame post or no post at all, and decided on the former.

In some sick twist of fate, the kids have decided to get up progressively earlier rather than later during our vacation (Maxime started babbling at about 5:16 AM this morning, and Émilie crawled into our bed at about 5:35). Phil and I are still under the illusion that, being on vacation, we can watch movies in the evenings and go to bed later, because we're "not working" the next day (home with 2 kids = not working? HA!!!). This has left us both utterly exhausted.

Plus, Émilie has decided (rightly so, I guess), that she's "too old" for naps in the afternoon, so we don't get any respite at ALL during the day. Help!!!

And to add insult to injury, I spent the afternoon gardening without applying sunscreen, so I've got a sunburn and a migraine.

There is no knitting content (quick and dirty: I finished the Lace Ribbon Scarf, I cast on Sizzle, I signed up for Mystery Stole 4, and I'm going through lace withdrawal), there are no pictures. Go ahead and say it: this is a sorry excuse for a blog indeed. :)

Have a great evening, everyone. I'm going to crawl into a fetal position and watch The Notebook.