Thursday, July 29, 2010

Somethings New

Recently I was e-loitering around on Etsy (never, ever a good idea, I have a really low threshold for adorableness), thinking about summer canning projects, when I came upon a shop that sold fabric covers for mason jars. They were cute, and I remembered thinking something like that would really make jam seem more like a "for real" gift, but honestly, this was really just fabric cut in circles with twine on the side... "I can do that" I thought. I can just buy fabric, cut it into circles and tie the the whole thing up with twine! Easy!

I somehow dug out the term "fat quarter bundle" from the extensive Heretofore-completely-useless-information compartment of my brain, and was soon cruising along, checking out ridiculously cute fabric... Before I could say Boo, I had bought my first fat quarter bundle.

"Whoa!" I thought. "I've got FABRIC now! Maybe I could actually use it to SEW something!" Never mind that I haven't touched a sewing machine since my secondary 2 (roughly Grade 8) home economics class. Never mind that I never actually finished the one and only sewing project from that class. I was going to SEW! I consulted with my friend Cynthia, whose sewing makes me drool, and before I knew it, I was ordering a few "Quick and Easy" project books on Chapters (in my defense, this was BEFORE the 2010 for 2010 project!)

From left to right: Amy Butler's In Stitches: 25 simple (HAH!) and stylish sewing projects; One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Projects; and Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing: More than 40 projects and ideas for inspired stitching. I've got my eye on a few projects, but I think the first one I'm going to tackle will be the Quilted Lunch Bag, from Weekend Sewing.

Of course, it turns out that I don't actually have a whole YARD of fabric (you'd think the term QUARTERS would have tipped me off...), so I'm going to have to take a trip to the fabric store with My Enabler soon. Darn :)

Speaking of Cynthia, I just HAVE to show you the über-awesome painting she sent me this week, as a thank you for translating a pattern for her from French to English!

Isn't it THE. COOLEST???? I've been in lust with this beauty since she first painted it, and I could NOT believe it when she told me she'd give it to me for translating one dinky pattern... Thank you SOOOOOOOO MUCH, Cynthia! But it's too much!!!! I'm going to have to figure something out...

Happy Knitting Everyone! (and sewing, and painting, and crafting...)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let's indulge

I often feel bad about the pictures I post on my blog, in that either I don't post ANY, or the ones that I do post aren't as Brooklyn Tweed-y as I'd like them to be. It bothers me so much, in fact, that when I actually HAVE pictures to share, I tend to hoard them so I can spread them out over multiple posts, so that y'all will have something to do besides read my silly ramblings.

I'm very tempted to do that tonight as well, but you know what? Let's just go with it. I've got a CRAP load of eye-candy for you today, and I'm just going to lay it ALL out there. We're going to stuff ourselves, we're going to over-indulge. Shall we?

This morning Phil and I took the kids to a local purveyor of all things garden-y(I don't really want to call it a greenhouse or nursery, this woman sells annuals and perennials and vegetables from the old barn beside her house) where you can also pick your own raspberries. It's something I don't recall ever doing as a kid myself, and it was the first time we've taken the kids. It's literally a 5 minute bike-ride away, it was a nice morning, and we just thought "Why not?"

Can I just say? I don't think there's anything better than berries right off the bush, do you? The kids certainly didn't seem to think so!

Phil seemed to agree with them too! TeeHee!

Contrary to the ginormous berries we buy at the supermarket, these babies did NOT stay on our counter for long after we got home! Nom nom nom...

After lunch I took Émilie to a movie, after which we visited my mother and took a few minutes to do a proper photo shoot for the recently completed Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan (finally!!!)

Feast your eyes...

Knit with just under 2 skeins of Dream in Color Classy in Cool Fire, this cardigan was really a breeze to knit. The only modification I made was to add a third button-hole (I'd seen similar modifications on Ravelry, and I liked the three-buttoned version better) and to add a little length for the size I was knitting. I finished it off with some vintage buttons my grandmother gave me a few months ago. All in all, very happy with this project, and Émilie likes it too :) That makes it a winner in my book!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where's the knitting?

I've got a confession to make: I'm kinda ticked at the fact that, even though I *think* about knitting pretty much every day, it seems like lately I don't really get to DO it that much. I think I've only managed about 10 rows on my one and only active WIP in the past week! Days are for working, evenings are for soccer, running, blogging, catching up with friends, etc., weekends are for running errands and being with family. When do I get to KNIT, darnit??? I was über-excited to have the evening to sit and veg out on Monday, but after folding 3 loads of laundry all I managed was 2 rows between talking on the phone and my kitten eating my yarn. *Sigh*

So I've got no pretty pictures of FOs to share - again - even though I've got 3 that I have yet to blog about. What I DO have are some pictures of me water-skiing! (I know... it's a bit of a strange segway, but it's my blog and I'm running with it, so there).

This summer has been the shiznits as far as boating has been concerned, mainly because we had little or no snow in Winter and little or no rain in Spring, so there's little or no water in the river (see how that works?). But after a few fairly heavy rainfalls over the past few days, Phil deemed the river to be "OK", so off we went for a boat ride.

Now, when Phil and I started dating, a BIG part of our summers was spent on the boat, water-skiing and wakeboarding. I loved the fact that, contrary to sports like, say, downhill skiing, this was something we could actually DO together, but each at our own level of proficiency (ie: breakneck speed and crazy-ass jumps for him, moderate speed and casual turns for me). But since getting pregnant with our daughter Émilie (who's turning SIX in a few weeks!), I hadn't been. Phil went occasionally while I stayed home and took care of the kids. It happens.

Well, on Sunday we both decided that that sucked ARSE, and I put on my skis and went for a ride.

Turns out water-skiing is like riding a bike: you never really forget. I was up on the first try, had a good run (for me), and didn't even get my hair wet when I let go of the rope ('cause I was tired). I had fun, re-discovered something I used to really enjoy, and most of all? I impressed the CRAP outta my kids, heh.

Happy Knitting Everyone! (if you're lucky enough to GET to knit! Grumble, grumble...)

ps: Oh! An update on the 2010 for 2010 Challenge! I put aside 75$ this Monday (Yay!). I now have about 4,47$ in my purse and 13,73$ in my bank account until my next paycheque (Boo!).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Setting the bar

Recently, while reading Ysolda's blog, I found out about a knitters' retreat that will take place in Iceland in September of this year. Now, I don't know about you, but I can't think of anything cooler than that. I mean... KNITTING IN ICELAND!!! I wanted to go. Like, a lot.

The only problem, of course, is that I don't happen to have 287,000 Icelandic Kronas (roughly 3000 Canadian dollars) lying around. Nor do I have the cool grand to fly to Iceland, for that matter. But then again, I haven't checked the pockets of my winter coat yet, heh.

All of this yearning for that which I can't afford led me to a fairly basic question: why don't I ever have any money??? I make a decent living, our mortgage is paid, we're not in debt... So why don't I have any money????

A quick look at my spending habits over the course of the past few months made it fairly obvious: the fact is that I'm a really impulsive shopper, and I buy what I want when I want it. I pay off my credit card every month, I set aside money for my RRSP, but I don't really question my daily purchases. And let me tell you: when you buy a pattern here, some yarn there virtually every week, it really adds up.

So! What to do about this? Inspired by my friend Robyn who's taken up a de-cluttering challenge (you can read about her progress here), I've decided to set up my own personal savings challenge: put aside 2010$ for 2010!

The 2010 for 2010 Challenge!
Goal: put aside 2010$ in savings by December 31st, 2010.
How? Change my spending habits! (DUH!)

I'm going to try to control my spending by separating my purchases into 2 basic categories: Things I Need and Things I Want (I know, you'd think I went to business school, right? Genius!)

Things I Need would be things like groceries, gas, kid items, and personal items of the essential variety (ladies, you know of what I speak). These will continue to be paid for as I've done to this point (although I'm definitely going to be looking at the coupons at the grocery store from now on!)

Things I Want would be things like yarn, books, social activities (restaurant, movies, etc.), wine, and personal items of the non-essential variety (like, say, getting my hair coloured). You know, the fun stuff that makes life worth living, basically. These will be paid for in CASH, and I'm only allowing myself 100$ per week. At the end of the week, whatever's left over (if there IS anything) will be put in my ME pot, to be used however the heck I feel like it.

I'm starting pretty late in the game, so I'm not going to lie, it's going to be TOUGH. But I think I can do it!

Happy Knitting Everyone! I'll be over here, quietly going through shopping withdrawal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ask and ye shall receive, eh?

I'm back from my (too) short visit with my Dad and step-mum Margot, and I've got STUFF to share with you! And some of it is knit-related too! I KNOW, right? Actual knitting content on a knitting blog! Weird...

After Dad and Margot picked me up at Toronto's Union Station, we settled in for the leisurely 2-hour drive up to their house (I can't even begin to tell you how much I'm NOT going to miss them living so far away!), and stopped in the lovely little town of Belfountain to do a little shopping and all-important beer purchasing.

I'm really trying to keep an eye on my spending habits (no - REALLY!), but this stuff was just too good to pass up. Besides, they were having a sale!

First up, I picked up this awesome market/knitting bag, 30% off. As soon as I saw it, I pictured it overflowing with yummy yarn and cozy works-in-progress. *Sigh*

I also picked up a couple of novelty ice-cube trays. The first one makes ice shaped like brains (you can sort of see it in the first picture), and this is the second one:

Space Invaders ice cubes!!! How friggin' COOL is that (no pun intended)? My inner geek and spaz just could not resist these beauties.

And finally, just as my purchases were being rung up, I noticed this cute sheep key-chain.

As you can see, not ONLY is it cute and sheep-y, it's also multi-functional! It doubles as a mini (OK, very mini) flashlight AND it Baaaaahs! So I can blind potential muggers while simultaneously disorienting them with farm animal sounds. Sweet!

OK, to knitting. I knew I was nearing the finish-line on both my active WIPs this weekend (which I'll share in a later post), and I was wondering what to cast on for next, especially since I knew I had a nice, long train-ride ahead of me (un-interrupted knitting time during the day!!! Unheard of!!!). I was craving lace, but I didn't have a clear idea what to cast on for: Les Abeilles? Merope? What? I was drifting amongst too many possibilities.

That's when the Knitting Fates intervened and my Summer Year of Lace package arrived. And who am I to argue with Fate?

I didn't touch the Spring package, so I decided to take this package as a sign and wound up the yarn (BMFA Geisha) the night before I left for Toronto, and it's going swimmingly. Not really looking forward to knitting the edging though (664 stitches on the needles!!! Aaaaaaack!), but that's another story!

Happy Knitting Everyone! Hopefully I'll have some FO pictures to share my next post.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Constantly in motion

It's 2:00 PM on Saturday, July 10th, and I'm sitting on a train bound for Toronto, which might not be as cool as a midnight train to Georgia, but is still pretty frickin' neat. I'm blogging from a train!!! My inner geek finds this to be incredibly satisfying.

I had a very knitty post planned for today, but of course, I forgot my camera, and while I may be psyched at the prospect of blogging from a moving train, turns out I'm not psyched enough to use the laptop's Webcam to take pictures of my knitting in front of my fellow passengers. I've already been the object of more than a few curious glances (or unabashed stares), friendly remarks and - yes - un-sollicited conversations...

[About that - why is it that people feel they can just talk to knitters, anyway? Why do the rules of society: avoid eye contact, respect personal space, and above al else - pretense, pretense, pretense - why do these things seem to just vanish like cashmere at a fiber festival when we have pointy sticks and some string in our hands?]

So why am I on a train? (I'm on a train! I'm on a train!) I was supposed to be running a race in Toronto tomorrow morning, but I'm sadly un-prepared for it (that might have something to do with the fact that I haven't been... you know.... running?). However, the train tickets were non-refundable and non-exchangeable ('natch), so I'm taking a quick trip to visit my Dad and step-mum Margot in what will soon be their old house (they're moving closer to us! Yay!).

So far I've finished a pair of socks, and have knit one pattern repeat on my newly cast-on lace shawl. Dudes, trains really are the more civilized way to travel.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A day of serendipity, part 2

Picking up where I last left off, after watching the sunrise and having breakfast with our friends (who were somewhat perplexed to see us, heh), it was time to head to the airport (again). We weren't very optimistic about our chances of making our connecting flight (remember, we had a 50 minute window to: disembark, collect our luggage, go through customs, re-check our luggage, go through security, and haul major arse to our gate), but we figured Chicago was closer to home than Cabo...

The airline had thoughtfully seated us at the front of the aircraft, the idea being that we would then be able to disembark a little faster (and every minute counts!). When we got on the plane, we saw that the flight wasn't full, and that there were two empty seats right at the bulkhead. It didn't take long for us to stake our claim, let me tell you!

Once we were good and settled and we had taken off, I pulled out my knitting (of course). I was knitting along, quite happily I might add (sandy beaches - to say nothing of muy margaritas! - aren't very conducive to knitting...), when one of the flight attendants comes up to me and starts oooh-ing and aaah-ing over my knitting. I smile, thank her for the compliment, and keep on knitting. Then she tells me she just learned to knit a few days ago, and could she get a few pointers from me? "Um... sure! I'd love to help!" I say.

Every so often she'd walk by and ask me something about what I was doing, how I was holding my yarn (I knit English style, and evidently she had been taught with the Continental technique). This went on for about an hour, and when she finally had a minute, this is what we saw:

This woman was interested in learning to KNIT, I tell you, and she was not going to let some minor detail like being 32,000 feet in the air (not to mention that I was a complete stranger!) get in her way!

Now - and I feel terrible for saying this, because I gave her the link to my blog, and I hope to heck she's reading - she was falling into the trap that all newbie knitters fall for. She was using a novelty, bumpy acrylic with big-ass needles that made it really difficult to work the stitches; she was planning to knit this stuff into a SHAWL, and she was planning to trim this shawl in - WAIT FOR IT - EYELASH YARN.

I Just. About. Lost. It.

"Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!" I wanted to shout at her. "Stay AWAY from crappy acrylic and for God's SAKE woman, put the eyelash and fun fur DOWN!" But then I thought "Who the heck am I to judge? Maybe she's allergic to wool? Maybe she can't afford to knit with anything else? Maybe she doesn't want to invest in something she's not sure she's going to enjoy?" Even so - if I'd had any spare merino in my bag (that's what I get for packing sensibly for the first time in my life), I would have given it to her in a heartbeat. And a copy of the Harlot's The Secret Life of a Knitter as well.

Well, I didn't have any of that, so I gave it a look, showed her both techniques, and tried to help her figure this whole "making fabric out of string" thing out.

She had mentioned before we got started that her knitting was so horrendous, I'd need a glass of wine. I just laughed it off and told her I was sure it wasn't THAT bad, but maybe she ought to hold off on the wine until AFTER the lesson... Sure enough, once she had packed up her knitting...

I gots me my wine :)

It never ceases to amaze me where knitters (or newbie knitters!) will pop up. I never got your name, lovely lady, but if you're reading this, I hope you stick with it. There are plenty of knitters in the sky to give you pointers along the way :)

Happy Knitting Everyone!

ps: Oh, in case you were wondering: we made our connecting flight with time to spare. I've never run through an airport so fast in my entire LIFE! We got home late, but we collected the kids and were glad to have the entire family at home.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A day of serendipity, part 1

Well, we're back in our casa sweet casa. Getting here didn't go quite as we had planned, of course, but that's what you get for having a 6-day getaway without the kids, right? You've got to pay for it at some point, heh.

Our original travel arrangements had us flying out of Cabo on a 7:30 AM flight to Houston, then catching an afternoon flight to Montreal after a cushy 3 hour layover. However, a little dude with a bug up his arse had other ideas. His name is Alex, maybe you've heard of him?

Diligent, prepared, seasoned travelers that we are, we arrived at the airport at 5 AM, only to find out our flight had been canceled (something about Houston airport being completely flooded... wimps!). Luckily, they were able to put us on a flight to Chicago at 1 PM, but the catch was that we would only have a 50 minute window to: get off the plane, pick up our luggage, go through customs, re-check in our luggage, then find our gate.


Well, what the heck, right? We confirmed the new travel arrangements, then caught a taxi back to our hotel... We did NOT want to spend 7 hours in the airport! We begged them to give us our room key back (check-out wasn't until noon, after all), made ourselves a cup of coffee, and headed down to the beach to watch the sun rise. And dudes.... it was worth it.

I don't know about you, but I rarely get to watch the sun rise over the crashing waves of the sea of Cortez... I'm glad for the opportunity (even if I DID have to wake up at 4:35 AM....)

This isn't the end of the story, the day had a few more surprises up it's sleeve... But it's late, I'm beat, and I need the blog fodder, heh.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Since apparently I can't be bothered to blog about knitting (insert sheepish grin here), how 'bout we talk about traveling?

Greetings from sunny, beautiful (and friggin' HOT) Mexico!!! Phil and I are in Cabo San Lucas for a kite festival, and while he's been flying kites, I've been focusing on getting some sun whilst looking fabulous, sipping the occasional margarita.... and EATING!

We arrived here on Tuesday afternoon, and have been having a lovely time with Phil's kiting friends. The weather is magnificent, the ocean is lovely if somewhat foreboding (can you say strong undertow???) and the food is wonderful. Ahh..... all-inclusive resorts, where have you been all my life?

We fly back to reality tomorrow. See you soon!