Sunday, April 14, 2013

And things that didn't take long at all

After working on Roo, I thought I had lost my knitting mojo forever. When I mentioned this to a coworker, he said, "I didn't know knitters had mojo to begin with." Needless to say, he was quickly put in his place and won't be making that mistake again. *ahem*

When I finally finished Roo, I realized I had the freedom to start whatever project I pleased. I grabbed some Patons sock yarn, the self-striping Raggs, and started a pair of socks for me! I figured that they could be "labour socks", that is, socks to be worked on during labour or worn during labour.

Payton's Kroc - bringing back my knitting mojo

Truthfully, I thought that I would still be working on the first one when I went into the hospital. The sheer joy, however, of mindless knitting was like a balm to my little knitting soul and it was barely a week before I had finished the first one. I quickly cast on the second and am already past the heel!

Pattern: Toe up using, 64 stitches, 2.25mm needles

Now, as I mentioned before, labour socks kind of imply that there is a baby on the way. Baby boy #2, will soon be making an appearance. I started maternity leave on March 22nd and am due a week from now. Needless to say, I've got some time on my hands. Not as much as I had hoped, but at times more than I know what to do with. And with this being a spring baby, instead of a summer baby like the mogrunt, this wee man is going to need some warm sweaters!

So I cast on for the Puerperium Cardigan with some stashed yarn which is of unknown origin. I know where it came from, it's just that there was no brand on the label, just a stylized crane. I'm pretty sure it's a merino or merino blend and I've used it for a few projects over the years. In fact, the mogrunt wears a hat and cowl made out of this very yarn.

Peurperium cardi

I found the buttons in my button stash. I remember buying them with my mom for the jumpsuit I was sewing for Home Ec class in 1989. Needless to say, the project didn't get finished, or you would be seeing a photo here of me in my incredibly flattering Esprit jumpsuit and asymmetrical haircut instead of this cute sweater.

Instead, you get this cute guy who couldn't stay out of the photo shoot:

  Silly boy

And since baby sweaters can be like the lite snacks of the knitting world, I also knit this in the last week.
Sea pebble 3

Sea Pebble 2

It's the baby Pebble vest. A quick little knit. And so much fun that I'm knitting another for a friend who is due in the fall. I'm thinking gray with yellow buttons for her wee babe, though I have enough of the grey yarn to make two vests, so you never know what might happen.





Friday, April 12, 2013

This Took Forever

Last summer, in a fit of unprecedented generosity, I agreed to knit a baby sweater for my hairstylist's niece's baby. I must have been drunk or delusional because doing so goes against one of my only two rules of knitting:

1. Never knit with yarn that makes my teeth hurt (anything 100% synthetic).
2. I only knit for people I am
       a. Related to by blood
       b. Related to by marriage
       c. Absolutely adore
       d.  Sharing a bed with (which includes, at this time, my husband and my son)

Now, I do absolutely adore my hairstylist, but I don't know her niece from Adam. It could have been that this was the kiss of death for this project, but alas, that was not the only reason this project was cursed.

Little did I know, that when I cast on the project, I was just barely pregnant. Pregnant at 38 with a 3 year old at home. Which, if you have prior experience with pregnant women, you will understand, brings on about three months of vigorous napping, extremely early bedtimes and brain fog.

So, I cast on Roo, the absolutely GORGEOUS baby sweater as designed by the extremely talented and lovely Kate Gilbert. And within the first bit of instructions, I was certain that this pattern had been brought to me by some evil villain bent on discrediting me as an experienced knitter.

Roo the day 

 Here are the things I learned while working on this sweater:
1. It pays to have two paper copies of a pattern - one for writing in all the chart notes and the other for balling up and throwing at the wall in frustration.
2. Never make assumptions.
3. Always write shaping instructions on your charts, event if you are a confident knitter who "knows what she's doing" hint: hubris is a bitch.
4. Always hold the fronts of a cardigan up to the back to ensure you didn't miss, oh, a full chart of knitting on both fronts. Hint: you should do this before stitching everything together and knitting the hood.
5. Never agree to knit something with a deadline when you are pregnant.

All that being said, this is still a beautiful pattern. It was a series of unfortunate stupidity that dragged out the process of knitting it. It definitely pays to look up how to Kitchener stitch various kinds of stitches together (garter, purl, knit) as the join in the hood looked so much better when I did this... You know, the second time around.

Roo the day (2)


Would I knit it again? Well, considering the number of things i ripped and reknit, i swear, it feels like i did knit this sweater twice!

As for actually making a second sweater, well, I'm not sure. I really love the final result, but I fear the frustration I felt knitting  it the first time might not dissipate even with time.

I would like to publicly apologize for all the private cursing of Kate Gilbert's name I did while working on this project. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this pattern that not being a dumbass while knitting it wouldn't have fixed.

Yarn: cascade 220 Heathers
Details: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/stephvw/roo




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Time to think

This past holiday season, I had a lot of time to think.

I had a lot of time to think because I spent a lot of time like this:

So very sick

and like this:

Sick

Yes, we were those lucky souls who came down with the flu this holiday season. I had 11 glorious days off in a row, thanks to saved up vacation time and how the holidays fell this year and I spent 10.5 of them, plus three more, either sick or in recovery. Merry freaking Christmas.

Here's how we looked on Christmas Eve (he's kissing his baby brother - yup, you read that right):

Christmas Eve
 
Little did we know that a sinister virus was lurking. We managed to get our treats out for Santa and write him a note:
 
Writing his letter to Santa

We even had an ok Christmas morning. How could you not with this guy in your house?

Christmas Day
 
Christmas Day

Mr. Happy fell ill on December 23rd with the flu (I only had a cold at this point).  On Christmas day, an hour before the turkey I was roasting for family dinner at my SIL's house was done, I sat down on the couch and took my temperature: 101C or 38.3F. Either way, not good. Especially not good as I am 6 months pregnant (obviously, more on that later). Add to that the fact that the Mogrunt came down with the same fever within hours of me. Fun times!

We were a sorry lot. Phone calls were made. Turkey and presents were picked up. Dinner was delivered later on. Thankfully, by the second day of our fever, Mr. Happy was feeling capable of caring for the Mogrunt and I. 

The long and the short of it is, the fever lasted 3 days, then came back for the Mogrunt, briefly. We were left with a horrible cough (feeling like my ribs were cracked and no stomach muscles to help with the coughing) and I ended up with case of sinusitis that required antibiotics to fix. So, while the Mogrunt and his dad went back to daycare and work on January 2nd, I continued my Lennon and Ono style "bed-in" for a few more days.

This, this my friends, is when I watched a lot of episodes of Bones on Netflix (and wondered who did the foley on it because, ew), rejoiced every time the baby kicked (when you're pathetically sick, you start to worry about the wee one) and finally felt well enough to knit. When I get myself organized, I'll show you what I worked on.

I also thought about my upcoming year. Baby boy number two is on the way!  I've been posting my #38andpregnant experience on Twitter, which hopefully I'll remember to share in another post.

We've got roughly 15 weeks until this new baby is born, so naturally, given my experience the first time, I've started nesting nice and early.

When I wasn't mentally rearranging furniture and rooms in our house, I was mentally repainting the entire house.  Since recovering from the Christmas Plague, I've gone through closets, cleaned up my sewing room, destashed yarn, cleaned up my bookshelf and ordered a full scale basement cleanup which Mr.Happy has undertaken.

And I'm excited to start blogging again a little more regularly. I've finally caught up with posting photos on Flickr, and I need to take some more of little projects I've got on the go.

2013, you've already kicked me in the face (sinusitis feels like that), so we've got nowhere to go but up.

Bring it!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Crafting - a new challenge in 2012

** I wrote this post back in September and forgot about it. I think because there was a photo missing. Well, here it is, several months later and I'd like to start blogging again in 2013 - so much going on, so much to process, so much to write about. So, here you go, a post to start off 2013 which was written with good intentions and edited today.**

At some point this spring, one of the members of my knitting group, the much loved Bluenail of Ravelry fame, took it upon herself to start a quilting bee of sorts within our knitting group. What a grand idea, right? Every month one person distributes her fabric and instructions. At the end of the month, we pass in our quilt blocks and move on to the next person. Sewing up the quilt and quilting it will be up to the individual, but a lot of the work is already done!

Now, I have attempted quilting before...

Rather... Let's start that again... I have attempted piecework before.  Many years ago, during a visit to a much loved discount warehouse in Calais, Maine, I purchased fabric and eventually pieced together a quilt top of my own devising. This is pre-internet days, so my technique was, well, poor, but my heart was in it. I made the top and then nothing. Nada. Did nothing else with it. The top taunts me whenever I come across it in my closet. I sometimes think about making it into a quilt, but the fabric is incredibly dated.

Then, after the mogrunt was born, realizing that I had a lot of fabric left over after making his birthday banner, I cut out pieces to make him a zig zag or chevron quilt a la Denyse Schmidt. I started sewing it together but soon realized that things were awry. I eventually used these pieces for my quilting bee month... I'll show a picture below.

While I did do quite a bit of sewing in the lead up to the Mogrunt's birth and afterward, I hadn't again thought about quilting. And then the quilting bug struck Bluenail, and next thing I knew, we were all on board. She's contagious like that.

The first square I made was for Bluenail's daughter's rainbow quilt. Each of us were given a bag of coordinating fabric and everyone got a different colour. My bag was, well, here:

Quilt block for Bluenail

We were given the task of making a 12.5" quilt block of any design. I went for a log cabin style block, charting it out on paper first. I was happy with the result, though after seeing some of the other blocks, felt a little quilt-envy. Nevertheless, I was still pleased with the project and realized that I needed to pay attention to how the fabric was cut as well as the measurements - i.e. centering designs etc. (The picture looks strange because it's actually flipped on the side.)

The next block up was for UberWench and we were to sew her a chevron block based on this pattern

Elinor's quilt block
 
It's a little wonky at one end, but I was pretty pleased with the result.  I hope that UberWench liked it as well.  I love the contrast of the skull fabric and the Little Golden Books fabric (my special addition for UberWench's block). I love this pattern so much that I would seriously consider doing it again.

The next block was a simple four patch for Val, which I don't have a photo of for some reason. I had a lot of fun making it. And for some reason, I think I made two - did I Val? I really can't remember.

Next up was a log cabin variation using this pattern. for Cate G. I was intimidated and procrastinated as much as I dared. Finally, I sucked it up and made the block.
 
 
Jack Horner photo
 
Which turned out nicely, I think.  Then I moved on to Ann's block which was fun:
 

Ann's square
 
Then we all moved on to my "block" which was likely a bit of torture for everyone. I asked that they sew strips from those aforementioned triangles, making a zig zag:

This is an example. I haven't yet taken a photo of all the strips together. Here's hoping I get to do that this week some time.

Zig
 
 
 After my month was Terra's month. And she gave us her packets and instructed us to do "whatever we wanted" which was kind of neat. I had just completed a 9-block square for another project and liked the simplicity of it.
 
Terra's quilt block
 
So Terra got a cute little square. I took the time to align my quilting square on the fabric before cutting it - having learned the lesson on my very first square (with apologies to Bluenail - I wasn't entirely happy with how one of the strips in her log cabin lined up). Let's ignore the face that the I may have sewed the squares in the wrong orientation when I sewed them together. Of course, having done this, I now want to make a quilt of just squares. My niece is graduating this year and I would like to make her a quilt for her graduation. Of course, that sets a precedent and I'd have to make at least two more, if not four more over the next few years as my two nephews and two other nieces go through school. Yikes.
 
Next up is Nicole's quilt which is in a star theme. I'm looking forward to the challenge!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer - Gardening

This summer's garden started in the spring with my two favourite boys starting seedlings:

farmer and son

See that adorable kid proudly holding his shovel? Yes, well, I mistakenly used that shovel while doing some weeding. Needless to say, this was the last time he used his shovel. Mommy still needs to replace it. I was also asked, moments after the shovel breaking incident, if I could please be careful to not break his bulldozer and backhoe. I was properly ashamed.

My gardeners

Our seed starters

The seedlings grew on our kitchen table:

seedlings

and grew:

  Seedlings

until it was warm enough to plant them outside. At that point, we needed to bring in some soil for the garden, and there was an ambitious lad who wanted to help:

Putting him to work

A pile of soil

Once those seedlings were in the ground, they grew quite quickly, with the help of our little rainbow maker:

he's a rainbow maker

He took his job very seriously:

Feisty Gardener

The plants looked quite small when we went on vacation in July, but when we came home, they had grown so much that we quickly realized we had placed our rows too close together!  What you are seeing here is (believe it or not) green beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, big tomatoes (no idea what kind) and Green peppers:
Our garden in August 

Alack and alas, everything seems to be none the worse for the wear, however, lesson learned for next year.

We recently went into Operation "Save the Tomatoes" and spent an evening staking them as best we could. Last summer was so miserable for tomatoes that I don't think we even planted any. This year was perfect and we foolishly didn't stake them or cage them in advance. Foolish gardeners! We've got so many tomatoes that I can hardly wait for them to ripen. I've got plans for ketchup and sauces and salads and..

Speaking of salad, we enjoyed many salads out of our garden, but during our last weekend away, the lettuce, well, it was neither pretty nor edible. Mr. Happy dug it up and composted it. We'll plant more when the weather cools a little.

Mr. Happy has plans for gardening into the fall using this cold frame that he built. I can't wait to see what we can produce despite the colder temperatures.

In the meantime, please feast your eyes on my "big" harvest of green beans:

Our beans

It might not look like a whole awful lot, but it's about 4 cups of blanched and chilled beans ready for the freezer.  I am ridiculously excited about this! Next year - more beans! And perhaps a deep freeze!