Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anyone for some tea?

There are two toy closets in my house: the one the kids know about right in the middle of our family room, and the one the boys have never seen.

That's where I keep all the wonderfully crafted wooden toys and such that I've been finding here and there for years. I snatch them when I find a deal and since they are not always age-appropriate...up in the upstairs closet they go just waiting for the rainy day when either of my little guys needs a little cheer me up or better yet a day that calls for a special reward.

When Julian was sick with his first "big boy" cold last winter (you know, the first one they are too old to just sleep through?), I climbed up on a chair in that special closet and found just the thing, a tiny little porcelain tea set. We wore our jammies and robes, stuffed tissues in our runny noses (oh so chic!), plugged in the humidifier and had a delightful tea party right there in his room and all the stuffies we could find were invited. It was the sweetest thing ever.

It's been almost a year already, but my heart can't help but swell just remembering that special moment. He was so happy to handle the tiny tea set and though he didn't say anything about it, I could tell by how careful he was that he knew it was a privilege to get to play with such a grown up toy that would otherwise have been reserved for when he was older.

It was so adorable to watch him pour tea and offer sugar and cream to all his delighted guests. He played tea party in the morning. He played tea party in the afternoon. And he just couldn't wait to take it all out again and play with daddy too when he got home from work.

It is one of my fondest memories of his toddlerhood and I hope I never forget it. When his cold was gone a few days later, we packed up the tea party and put it away again...for another time. And he was okay with that too. And I was so proud.

That's what I thought of this week as I knit all these wonderful tea sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres for my boys. So as the autumn chill draws near, we all get to look forward to special tea parties to help us chase away those colds...and this time, there'll be food for everyone!

Oh, and by the looks of this, I think Lolo might be looking forward to cold season too ;0)


Ps - Should you feel the urge to knit some of the tea party treats for a little someone too, you can get the free pattern directy from Jean Greenhowe's site. It looks complicated, but every piece is but a strip of garter - no shaping whatsoever! It was a true pleasure to put this little spread together using US 8 needles and scraps of leftover Bernat Satin. I see Jean's knitted deserts in my future too someday, there's a free pattern for those too from that same site ;0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ravelympics: Days 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16!

Oh my! Has it really been that long? And to think I was on a roll with two posts in one week! Well, let me catch you up with my Olympic knitting: meet the lovely and completed right on time, Natalie Coat...

The pattern by Libby Baker is from Big Girl Knits. I knit the smallest size (not sure without looking at the book whether it is large or extra large), using 17 balls of Filatura Di Crosa Andina in camel and US 9 bamboo needles.

The pattern was smooth sailing until I got to the second front on day 7. I did well at first knitting up to the waist shaping. But when I laid it down next to the other front piece, the daisy stitch bands didn't quite look symmetrical and so I ripped back about a foot and a bit! Ouch!

Demotivated a bit by the ripping, I found it hard to pick it up again and since I was doing really good on time, I allowed myself to procrastinate for a few days while partaking with fun-filled vacation activities with my boys, watching lots and lots of CBC and SRC Olympic coverage and mostly hanging with my honey and enjoying spending so much time together.

But it was back to the needles with a fury on day 13 and I finished that second front that evening. I seamed it all up on day 15 and completed the collar on day 16 just in time to claim my spot on the podium and accept my award.

Yay !!!

Oh, and of course the cheering robots Stephen and I made with the boys and hung in plain view of my knitting spot helped me bring it all home

Oh, and Simon Whitfield provided some awesome inspiration too...watching him make his way back in contention in the final minutes of the triathlon and bringing home the Silver was my highlight of the games and watching team mate Colin Jenkins' enthusiastic last place finish is an olympic moment I will not too soon forget!

Forget Jacques Rogge, these were the best games ever!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ravelympics: Days 5 and 6

So my loving husband surprised me by arranging for two full weeks of vacation during the games to care for kids while I knit. And it is his support that has made all the difference. Having him on board has meant guiltless hours of knitting while he feeds and entertains our little guys. He's even been getting up early with them so that I can catch up on some zzz's after long knitting sprints watching olympic morning on the CBC until 3 am for the past few nights.

So given my progress, I thought we all deserved a little break on day 5 for a day out with my sister and brother-in-law. So I left the needles and yarn by the couch and off we went to a historical site in my hometown of Terrebonne, Quebec: L'ile des moulins.

We had such a great afternoon (despite the occasional rain cloud) taking in the coolness of this park from my kids perspective: there are little walking bridges, mini-falls, ponds with ducks and fountains, lots of green spaces under a lush canopy of maples with big rocks poking out of the ground.

Oh, and there was ice cream too while we waited for the rain to pass. It was really great. And I totally forgot about the knitting...

...until I got home and realised a whole day had gone by with wary a stitch! So I cast on for the left front late on day 5 after the kidlets were in bed. Unfortunately, mentally keeping track of all the pattern rows and multiple shapings while cheering for the Canadian divers competing in the men's 3m synchro event meant a lot of head scratching moments and frogging. Turns out those two are not compatible tasks and the diving was more interesting than the knitting so day 5, while a great vacation day spent with the family, was a total knitting bust. Then the story on day 6 was all about sleeping! All those late nights finally caught up with me and I slept in until 11 and napped away the afternoon with the boys.

I did manage to kick it back into high gear late in the evening again though just in time to finish the left front of my Natalie Coat while watching the men's all around gymnastics competition. Another 3 balls of yarn and a 3 am bedtime for this knitter ;0)

...but with just one front and collar left to knit (oh, and all that seaming of course!), it looks like we'll be able to pay daddy back for all his efforts with more vacation fun next week. Cause I sure am going to owe him big when my games are done!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ravelympics: Days 3 and 4

While daddy and the boys were hanging around and learning important life lessons (here's a pic of them reading "How to behave and why", a classic by Munro Leaf - I think ;0)

I continued to make strides on my Olympic knitting project, knitting a sleeve on day 3 (while attending a barbecue at Stephen's sister, no less), and another on day 4, stopping only to bake pumpkin muffins with the boys in the morning and again for an evening ice cream outing with all our neighbourhood buddies. So that's 1 back and 2 sleeves completed! Yay, mommy!!!

Now on to the fronts...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ravelympics: Day two

No way!

That's the finished back of my jacket in all it's 37" long, 22" wide, and blocking glory. I am in utter shock! This is my fastest knitting performance ever. Watching swimming helps apparently.

The riveting competition keeps my mind off the boring-ness of stockinette and the length of this jacket. Case in point, I only stopped to measure my progress twice today (when knitting this much stockinette, I usually feel compelled to measure oh, I don't know, every inch and a half ;0)

Specs for day two: 21 inches and 3 balls of yarn!!!

Coaching support: hubby made breakfast, took us out for lunch and picked up dinner. Plus he brought the boys outside to play after their naps so I could knit quietly. Oh, he also read library books and put them to bed. And yes, ladies, he is already married to this lucky mom and knitter! How I heart that man ;0)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ravelympics: Day One

So I've been scheming, fondling yarn, reading and re-reading instructions to identify possibly tricky bits, swatching, and mostly coming down with Olympic fever for the past few weeks. And yesterday, I finally got to cast on for my Olympic knitting project, the Natalie Coat from Big Girl Knits.

If you haven't heard of the knitting olympics (really?), you can read up all about the original event here and this year's Ravelympics event here. Basically, the idea is to knit something personally challenging during the olympics, starting when the flame is lit and ending 17 days later before the flame is extinguished. My personal challenge: a grown-up knee-length sweater coat for my sis.

I generally don't have the knitting stamina and commitment required to knit the gazillion stitches in an adult garment (which is why they are a rarity on this here blog). Put another way: the last sweater I knit for my man took me over a year to complete! So a coat in 17 days: totally challenging ;0)

Though day one has been very sucessful! I knit for 12 hours and managed to knit 16 inches of the back section and work through 3 (of the required 18) balls of the glorious Filatura Di Crosa Andina in a camel colourway.

You might have noticed my snazzy Olympic timer in the sidebar. A gift from my geeky hubby. If you would like one for your blog, just go into your template and add the following code where you would like the timer to appear:

<div id="knitolympics">Olympic Countdown Timer</div>
<script language="javascript" src=""></script>

That's it! The timer is set to GMT so should be accurate regardless of your time zone.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Jury's still out...but I think I like it!!!

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions about the fruity scarf I showed you last time. I finished it last night and after a good blocking and a fifty-ways-to-wear-a-really-long-skinny-scarf session in front of the laundry room mirror, this psychadelic Easter scarf is really starting to grow on me...

So I'm going to hold off on dying it for a little while to see if I fall in love with it's fruitiness come spring. The pattern is chevron scarf from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It calls for 4 skeins of sock weight yarn total, but I only used 2 and ended up with a 74" scarf (just 3 inches shy of the 77" the pattern calls for). I used one skein of Knit Picks Sock Memories in paper dolls and the other in the hawaii colourway and knit the whole thing in 4 days using my very favouritest Crystal Palace bamboo straights in US 5 (they're the short-ish 8 inch ones with the balls on top pictured in my last post).

I love those needles so much which is strange really, because I usually don't feel comfortable using straight needles at all. But there's something about these that just feels so right that I can not put them down. This is a quality that makes these perfect for scarf knitting, a project that can get tedious really fast. But not with these babies!

Though to come back to the scarf, I must say that this very simple pattern (4 rows, 3 of which are just plain old stockinette) was completely addictive to knit in and of itself (if you've ever considered it and then decided not to make one because of the sock weight yarn, go for it, it's actually knit on US 5 needles so even though it's sock yarn, it comes together pretty quickly). I love the little scallop effect it creates at the ends of the scarves too. As I laid it out for it's photo session, I noticed that the little scallop at the top would be just right for a mitten top. So naturally, I had to cast on for a pair....

And now for something completely different! Jujube and Lolo playing tennis in the street with their toddler buddies from across the street (their dad is a Canadian tennis champ in the 35 and over category)! This was the first time they took over the street and Stephen and I got such a kick out of it. There's nothing cuter than tots with rackets ;0)

One last thing...did you sign up for the Ravelympics yet? You have to sign up before AUGUST 7 to participate officially. I'll be competing in the Sweater Sprint event. I'll tell you more about my project when I cast on dunring Friday's opening ceremonies ... it's so exciting!!!

Monday, August 04, 2008

One fruity scarf

So the Olympics are coming in a few days and since I had nothing on the needles and since I can't start my Natalie Coat (I'm knitting it as a present for my sister as my official Ravelympics project) I thought why not use up some stash yarn and cast on a simple and mindless project...

Meet my chevron scarf. The pattern is from "Last Minute Knitted Gifts" and while I would not normally knit a 77 inch scarf out of sock yarn (!), somehow I felt compelled to rescue a bunch of skeins of Knit Picks Sock Memories sock yarn from the "what was I thinking" section of my stash arrangement.

The colours look nice on their own (they are paper dolls and hawaii), but combined together in the two-row stipes called for in the pattern... I REALLY REALLY HATE THE COLOURS!

I started it late at night by the incandescent bulb of my night stand lamp and it didn't look too too bad in the orangy light...but come morning, ouch! The colour is not my cup of tea at all. It's sooo Fruit Loopy, but not in a good way. I considered frogging the 10 inches I had already done. But then I figured I wouldn't want socks knit out of this stuff either so I kept going. And going. And going. The whole time hating the colour more and more.

Then it hit me: Kool-Aid! I've never tried dying yarn. And I certainly haven't tried overdying a scarf knit from sock yarn before cause let's face it - that just sounds crazy! But I think that's what I'm actually going to do.

I googled overdying and have already decided to go for Kool-Aid or Wilton cake dye since I want to use cooking utensils and will be cooking the scarf indoors where we will all be smelling the dye aromas for a while.

But other than that I've got nothing! Anyone have any tips, resources, and advice to share? I'd especially appreciate colour suggestions ;0)

Please help me save this scarf...