Monday, December 26, 2005

The most wonderful time of the year...

Last week was a blur: We tried to see Santa 3 nights in a row, but everytime we got there just as they stopped admitting kiddies and their parents because the line was too long. We ended up taking pictures of Julian ourselves to send along with our Christmas cards this year and spent another evening at Wal-Mart trying to figure out how to print wallet-size form the Kodak picture-maker (last time we do that 'cause it was a nightmare). I also spent a lot of time menu planning and grocery shopping for Christmas dinner, and like most of you, did a lot of cleaning and tidying up around the house. I tried to knit the candy cane hat from Handknit Holidays in time for Julian to wear to church on Christmas eve...I finished it at 3am on the 23rd and when we tried it on in the morning, it was too small! Go figure.

There is always sooo much lead up to Christmas and in the end it just flies by and all the things that got you stressed out in the last days before the holiday, don't matter in the end. That's my lesson this year. Next year, we agreed to have a simple spaghetti dinner. My mom will make the pasta, I'll make the sauce, my sister will bring the salad and my mother-in-law will bring desert. The important thing is to get together, be merry and watch the kids go nuts over their toys.

Having said all that, we did have a lovely Christmas. It was extra special this year of course since it was Jubilee Bubilee's first Christmas AND it was his half-birthday! We celebrated Christmas Eve with the in-laws. Despite not having napped at all with all the excitement, Julian was really well behaved at church and was filled with glee. He cooed and babbled along with the priest during the homily and then along with the youth choir. He also made us laugh several times as he flapped his arms about, startled by all the clapping. What a delight! My MIL leaned over at one point and asked if I felt better than last year and I realised just what a year it's been. It was at Christmas mass during the giving of the peace last year that we told our parish friends and neighbours that we were expecting and I was trying so hard to overcome the tiredness and nauseousness I felt...well I'm still tired, but the nauseousness is just a fading memory.

The festivities continued at the in-laws' after Church and Santa sure had left a lot of presents for everyone. Jujube was spoiled with the complete Baby Einstein DVD collection, cute jammies and sweats and lots of teething toys. His grandpa had an especially sweet gift for him: a pressed leaf from the maple planted in their yard the year my husband was born and a leaf from the little shoot that they transplanted this year to celebrate Julian's birth. It was just so thoughtful and touching.

On Christmas morning, my husband, Julian and I slept in and made cinnamon rolls and white hot chocolate for breakfast while we opened our gifts. My husband got me a wonderful Le Creuset teapot which I just love. I gave him this Brian Andreas print. I had gone through all of Brian Andreas' work when I was introduced by Krista earlier this fall and couldn't resist. I know this is probably a terrible habit, but Julian has fallen asleep in my husband's arms every night since he was born and my husband watches him sleep for hours. He loved the fact it made him cry (and I). And Jujube, well, he got a library with lots and lots of cute little board books and Bucket Buddies which he's been playing with ever since. He especially likes to rattle the kitty bucket and doesn't mind wearing the puppy bucket on his head which is very entertaining for mommy and daddy too!

We then kicked it into high gear for the finale: my family came over for Christmas dinner along with my in-laws. It was nice to get together again and we had a lovely meal and a nice time. We also celebrated Julian's half birthday (he turned six months) with a half birthday cake. It was all so cute. Everyone left before 10pm because it started to snow quite heavily and no one wanted to get stuck on the roads. We picked at the left overs and went to sleep happy and content. That's the way it should be.

Today we played with all our Christmas goodies and ate leftover cake and pie. My husband is off for the next two weeks and I am so excited. It's so nice to have him home and now that all the hectic crazy Christmas lead-up is over, we have nothing to do but relax, unwind and spend long lazy days in our jammies. And that is the best present of all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Plain vanilla

Yippee! I finally finished the last holiday project for my in-laws: plain vanilla mittens for my husband's sister. I knit them from Lopi on US 4 and 7 needles. I'm especially pleased with how the top shaping turned out. This is very close to how my grand-mother used to make them. I used the pattern for the fingerless gloves/mitts from Lopi 24 though I forwent (is that even a word?) the fingerless part and the hood and knit them as simple mittens. This used up all but a few yards of 1 ball of Lopi. That means I still have a full ball left so there may be some of these in my own future...

Now the challenge is my own family...there's a lot of folks and not nearly enough time to knit for all of them. So far, I've got the branching out scarf for my mom and nearly one completed sock (the first of the pair) for my sister. I also have a one skein wonder for my neice. That leaves one brother-in-law and my 5 year old nephew without knitted gifts. What to do? What to do? There is no time to finish all these projects. I'm thinking of giving them birthday knits instead...that should spread out the projects nicely and give me more time to knit them thoughtful (rather than last minute) gifts.

I'm sure they don't expect knitted items anyway. Other than my one sister (who's got socks in the making already) none of them have showed any interest in my knitting anyway. I still feel guilty though. But hey, there's only so much time and with Jujube around the amount of time I can devote to knitting varies greatly from week to week which makes it really hard to knit against a deadline. Okay, I'm making excuses. I shouldn't. It's really gonna be okay. At least I have non-knitted gifts for everyone. Plus it's really too late now to worry about it. I still have to scrub the house, grocery shop and cook for Christmas dinner. I've got bigger fish to fry (so to speak) so I am going to release the guilt: one...two...three...there, I feel better already!

Okay, but I still need to finish my husband's sweater and would love to knit a candy cane hat from Handknit Holidays for Julian to wear to church on Saturday night...maybe a scarf too? My mother-in-law gave me a great big ball of unidentified red wool this weekend. It looks like DK and the pattern calls for worsted weight but I'm thinking perhaps a double strand would work? I also have an unidentified ball of white DK yarn. Could I be lucky twice? I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Friday, December 16, 2005

A billion little pieces of tape

My husband took the day off yesterday so that we could spend the afternoon downtown Christmas shopping and I am soooo pleased to report that we are done done! A million pieces of tape and nearly all of the wrapping paper in our closet later, I also finished all the wrapping! I love to wrap gifts and always challenge myself to use as little tape as possible (mostly because I hate having to prepare all those little pieces and I'm too cheap to buy the pre-cut type). It took me all evening and it was a good thing I ended when I did...I was pooped after all that shopping (a lot more excitement and exercise than I usually get in my new role as stay-at-home mom) and I was really giddy while wrapping the gifts. Everything cracked me up and I giggled and giggled and giggled. I made up songs about cutting paper and curling husband looked frightened.

You'll notice from the picture that our tree is also up and trimmed. We're just missing a "baby's first Christmas" ornament and a tree topper. Julian doesn't seem to be as interested in the tree as we thought he would be. I guess he doesn't know yet that trees belong outside! He does seem to enjoy the blinking lights. He was kicking a lot while we were untangling them on the floor. So cute.

So other than the knitting, we're all set for Christmas. I've even planned Christmas dinner which is a really big challenge in our family because my husband is allergic to poultry, fish and sea food and my brother-in-law can't eat pork or any meat that is not hallal for religious reasons.

So I thought I'd make the Boeuf Bourgignon from this month's Martha Stewart Everyday Food since it uses beef cubes which are good and easy to procure hallal from our libanese market...problem? My brother-in-law can't have wine which is central to this dish. So I figured I would make a big batch and split out a couple of portions before adding the wine. Problem solved! I think that'll work and the recipe seems easy enough and, bonus, can be prepared in advance. Now I just need to figure out desert...

And now for the knitting content. Sadly, all I got is an incomplete sock for my sister. It is my first foray in sock knitting on two circs. So far, I'm finding this method less fluid than DPNs which is cramping my style though I like only having two ladders to worry about at the joins - I still haven't figured out how to avoid them completely, even on DPNs.


PS: For any Apprentice fans out there...can you beleive how much of a jack ass Randall is? I could not beleive that he told Donald not to hire Rebecca as well. I'm shocked at how selfish that move was, especially from him. I wonder what his family thought about that and weather he is now having second thoughts. I hope he is. Ugh, that makes me sooo mad!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Greetings from Montreal

Today is Creative Genius?'s "Show us a picture of you wearing clothing proper to your climate" day.

According to the Weather Network, here are the details for this day in Montreal:

TEMPERATURE -10 celsius
CONDITIONS Light snow.
FEELS LIKE -17 celsius
WIND GUSTS N 17 km/h

I'm wearing my HBC signature 100% wool coat which is actually one of the warmest coats I've ever owned with matching wool scarf. It's not cold (or slushy) enough yet to warrant my Ice Bug boots so I'm still wearing my hiking runners. Hats? They are so not becoming on me and my huge head thus the nice big hood on my coat that I pull up when it gets cold and windy. I also have some earmuffs for extra warmth as required.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nano warmer

I made an iPod Nano warmer for my neice last night. She's spending some time with us getting math help from my husband. He is from a long line of math smarty-pants (my father-in-law is a revered math tutor in these come from all over, several a day for math saving). So while they're studying, I decided to make a wool sock for my neice's nano. It was going to be a simple sleeve but it was so much fun that I ended up adding a button closure, earphone pocket and earphone jack hole. I used left over fleece artist yarn with a gauge of 6 stitches per inch.

Here's my pattern:

  1. Cast on 23 stitches and join in the round (or you could knit it on two needles and seam the side if you prefer though if you do, you should cast-on 25 stitches to allow for the seam and bind off 12 stitches instead of 10 in step 3).
  2. Knit straight until it measures 3 and a half inches
  3. Bind-off 10 stitches and work the remaining 13 stitches on two needles as follows for the flap closure
  4. On right side rows: slip 1, knit to end.
  5. On wrong side rows: slip 1, knit 1, purl to last two stitches, knit 2.
  6. Continue until flap from bind off measures 1 and a half inches ending with a wrong side row.
  7. Next row (right side): slip 1 knit 5, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to end.
  8. Next two rows: slip 1, knit to end.
  9. Bind off all stitches.
  10. Using the tail end from the cast on (or another piece of yarn if the tail is not long enough) sew up the bottom leaving a gap the width of one stitch on the left side (for the earphone jack).
  11. For earphone pocket (optional): pick up and knit 10 stitches on the bottom front of the pouch 1 or 2 rows from the cast-on edge.
  12. Knit back and forth on two needles in stocking stitch increasing by 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every alternate row (twice) until you have 14 stitches then continue knitting straight until pocket measures 2 and a half inches.
  13. Knit two rows and bind-off.
  14. Sew up sides leaving another quarter inch gap on the bottom left side (for earphone cord) if desired.
  15. Sew button to pocket.
  16. Voila! A very cute and functional nano cozy.


Friday, December 09, 2005

My knitting spot

All right people, let's see your knitting spot! I saw this meme on Scout's blog this morning (her Dec 7 entry) and it sounded like fun. So here's my knitting spot and why yes, that is knitting progress on the armrest! I've completed the first sleeve for my husband's Hringur sweater . One more to go and then it's the homestretch on the yoke.

It's kinda funny looking at the picture now because it can play like a page from the Ikea catalogue with 7 1/2 Ikea products in this shot only! Other than the books and stuff in the bookcases and my folding knitting basket (?), the only thing in the picture not from Ikea is the Persian rug my husband and I invested in using the money we received as wedding gifts. Evidently, we're addicted to trying to fit huge flat boxes in our Civic, driving through a metropolis trying not to loose any, and assembling our own furniture with a so not ergonomic allen key :0) What's that about?

Everything, and I mean everything in my old appartment was from Ikea: affordable high style. When we got married, we started investing in custom Quebec pine furniture and had a solid wood dining table made and a king size bed frame and armoir for our room...then we ran out of money and finished furnishing the Ikea! We love and hate that place. What keeps me coming back is that their stuff is affordable, current and fresh. What gets my husband are the hot dogs they sell by the tills. I must admit, the Montreal Ikea makes the best hot dogs!

Enough about Ikea. Go on people, flash your spot...

Oh, and Monday is "SHOW US A PICTURE OF YOU WEARING CLOTHING PROPER FOR YOUR CURRENT CLIMATE" day. Check out Creative Genius' blog for more details.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Knitting blahs!

I've got the knitting blahs. I had a plan. I was on a roll. For the past couple of weeks I've been cranking out those Christmas knits. But now, with 19 days to go, I'm feeling the pressure and can't seem to knit anything right.

I've spent the last 3 days trying to knit some purple mittens for my sister to match the cabled scarf I knit her last year (I think I have just the right amount of yarn left over). The first mitten I knit ended up looking like a fish. No really. A fish. I had inserted the same cable as in the scarf in the back of the hand and hadn't accounted for the extra tension created by the cable which made the mitten curve out. While it was hysterical, it was a wasted day and a half of knitting.

So yesterday, I started fresh. I decided to knit 2 strands together and follow the Fleece Artist mitten pattern I used for my mommy mitts: a no-frills quick knit. It took a while to get the gauge right but it finally looked like it was going to work. I decided to get creative and monogram the back of it by purling the letter "H" in the otherwise stocking stitch mitt. It also puckered and looked awful. So I frogged it back and knit it straight to the top this time. I decided to get creative again and try to knit the top in a point like my grandma used to. It kinda worked. I got excited. Trimmed the yarn and weaved in the ends. Then, I tried it was too short. Another day wasted.

This afternoon, I decided to use the Lopi pattern for those great fingerless glove/mitts since the gauge I was getting with the double strands of worsted weight looked about right. I got the cuff done, tried it on this time and found it way too big. Argh! I quit. She doesn't even want mitens anyway. She wants socks. I want to get rid of the purple stash. Doesn't look like either's gonna happen before Christmas.

Sat down to a nice dinner with my hubby and Jujube and felt a lot better. So after dinner I decided to edit my Christmas knitting list. No one on my list expects to get knitted gifts, since I've never really gifted anything for Christmas before. So why did I put all that pressure on myself anyway. I decided what mattered most to me was to finish the sweater for my husband and knit the initial baby blanket for Julian. Those are the two gifts that matter the most. Oh, and maybe also a Christmas sweater for the little being his first and all. More reasonable. Less pressure and love in every stitch (much more romantic than all the resentment that went into those stupid purple mittens).

So I cast on for the baby blanket using the great yarn I ordered from Elann for this very blanket. It was the right colour, right gauge, right price. Plus it's merino...yum! Alas, it is S-T-R-E-T-C-H merino and after casting on 130 stitches and knitting and evening's worth, it occured to me that not only do I hate knitting with the stupid stretch yarn but it also looks like crap. So I frogged it. I've got nothing.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Loving spoonfuls

Julian had his first meal yesterday and like his daddy, he didn't stop 'til his plate was empty.

He seemed quite content for the rest of the fact we visited our friends and their new baby (so tiny...oh my gosh) and then a few hours at the bookstore and then a stop at the restaurant and all that time, he was full and happy. Success! Of course he was still up every couple hours for milk last night. We're still working on it...


Friday, December 02, 2005

Irish Hiking Scarf: Check!

It's done! It's finally done! After over a year on the needles, my Irish Hiking scarf is complete and ready to be gifted to my father-in-law this Christmas. I can now knit other projects on my US7 circular! Yay!

I knit my scarf out of Classic Elite 03 Tweed and love the way it turned out (these photos represent the colour pretty accurately). I used up just over 2 skeins and have another 2 left over in my stash...maybe I'll knit a matching hat once the Christmas knitting rush is over.

I've grown a lot as a knitter during the first 6 months of my maternity leave. For instance, I discovered that I had been knitting wrong all these years: I used to purl and knit through the back-loop - a habit I was able to break pretty easily. I learned that there are different ways to increase and different ways to decrease and when to use which. I learned the German and long-tailed cast-ons. I learned to pick up stitches around a collar or button band. I learned to knit socks complete with heel-flap and grafted toe. I learned fair isle and duplicate stitch embroidery. Branching out taught me to knit lace. Lopi taught me how to knit gloves and keep stiches live for later thumb-knitting (the way my grandma used to do it). I learned to weave in ends properly. I learned to seam properly and invisibly from the right side. I learned to steam-block. I discovered "real" yarn. I discovered lots of online yarn shops and "I think I'd rather spend the money on yarn" has become a mantra when shopping for anything else.

My Irish Hiking Scarf taught me to cable without a needle and to persevere...that even though it often doesn't feel like it, given enough time and committment, any project is finishable. And for that, thank-you Hiking Scarf!

In baby news, our college friends just welcomed their second child (Theodore) into the world on November 29th. We're going to visit them tomorrow. I wonder if I'll be overwhelmed by how small a newborn's been 5 months since Julian was that brand spanking new and though I think he's still a little baby, seeing a really new baby might make me realise that my little Jujube is growing up. I know he is but I can still be in denial about it can't I?

We're going to feed him solids for the first time tomorrow morning. We wanted to wait until he was six months, but we really think he's ready now (he is 5 months and a week which is close enough isn't it?). He's really interested in watching us eat (he even pretends to chew along with us...too cute), he can sit up in his high-chair and the biggest clue is that he's been nursing every 2 hours for the past few days including 2-3 times a night (in case you're wondering, that's expressed milk in the picture). I think he's ready. He's growing up!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A trip down tree memory lane...

I had always wanted a real Christmas tree and so when I moved into my first apartment 5 years ago, I wrestled one up...literally. A tree merchant had set up shop in our grocer's parking lot 3 blocks down the street and one evening, I coaxed my 9 year-old neice to come pick out a tree with me. It was snowing outside and everything just felt right...

While she was putting on her snowpants, she wondered aloud how we would get the tree home and wouldn't it be too heavy to carry. In my best no-duh voice I asked her "are leaves heavy?" '"No" she said. "Well" I said, "It's just a piece of wood with leaves on it." She beleived me and off we were practically skipping down the street, both brimming with excitement.

We picked out the biggest tree we could find and paid for it. The merchant, an older lumberjack type, asked us where our car was and I explained that we only lived a few blocks away and would carry it home. He chuckled under is breath and said it would be much too heavy for us girls to carry. I was so offended and being passive-aggressive said nothing but wanted to show him.

Well he was right. We could barely lift the thing off the ground. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction and urged my neice to just hurry along holding the tip while I held on to the heavier trunk end. I just wanted to make it to the other side of the building where our lumberjack friend wouldn't be able to see us struggle. We huffed and we puffed but we made it out of his sight.

We dropped the tree in a thump and were at a loss for what to try next. I didn't want to just leave the tree but it really was heavy. I decided to pick it up and hug it upright while following my neice's voice since I couldn't see through the tree which was at least a good foot and a half taller than me. What a spectacle we must have been. The sidewalks were slushy and slippery, it was dark and lots of foot and car traffic was milling. I was sooo embarrassed. My neice on the other hand was practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

I carried the tree upright probably for another block setting it down to catch my breath every 5 steps because as it turns out, leaves ARE heavy when they are frozen and still attached to the tree! It was during one of these pauses that I looked up to see my boyfriend (now husband) running down the street toward us. It was a knight-in-shining-armor moment! Turns-out he had driven past us on his way to visit me, noticed the spectacle, parked the car and came to our rescue! I'd never been happier to see him. He took one end, I took the other and we made it home.

It's one of my best Christmas memories to this day. That tree was trouble though: right in the middle of Christmas dinner, we all watched in horror as the tree which had been sitting in a bucket tipped over in a loud thud and sploush. Not knowing quite how to dispose of it, it stayed on my balcony until June of that year when I tossed it over the railing one evening and my sister and I sneaked it into a construction dumpster next door and that was the end of that.

I'm glad to report that we now have an artificial tree! I'm thinking of putting it up next week-end. Gotta time it right. Last year we put it up during the first week of December and by the time Christmas rolled around, I was just so sick of it and wanted it down before new years. So the second week of December it is! Or should I wait until the week before Christmas?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Silk waves scarf

My week-end was a dream! My husband, Julian and I hung out in bed until noon on Saturday morning being comfy together and singing Beatle songs. My husband went to get Tim Horton's for lunch, which we ate in bed, and then we got up and dressed and decided to get an early start on Christmas shopping this year to avoid the crowds. We didn't really have a plan or a list yet we managed to find nice thoughtful gifts for almost everyone in one store, Julian was happy and smiling the whole time, we came in under budget and get this...even wrapped the gifts when we got home! Pinch me someone!

Then on Sunday, we went to visit my sister in the city who just returned from a month long trip meeting her in-laws in Algeria. It was really nice to have her back home, safe, and sound and to hear that her in-laws like her as much as we do. When we got back home, our own in-laws dropped by to watch the Gray Cup game. We ordered pizza and had a great evening despite the Alouette's loss :0(

The only draw back was that I didn't get much knitting time in. I was itching to knit something during the game but all the projects I had on needles were intended for people who were there. Result: while I'm ahead on Christmas shopping, I'm behind on Christmas knitting. What I thought would be a 2-day project turned into an almost week-long affair. But after a push today, I'm glad to report another completed Christmas project, this one the silk waves scarf from Ram Wools. It's for my mother-in-law who grew up in Maine and loves the ocean. So when the winter months drag along, she can look down at her scarf and daydream about warmer weather and the sound of the surf.

The scarf is a basic feather and fan pattern, but the twist is that it is knit lengthwise across resulting in lovely scalloped edges. Silk and silk chenille are used alternating every fifth row which creates a neat effect at once silky smooth and warm and cushy. The silk was wonderful to knit with, but the silk chenille made my hands and fingers tingly which was unpleasant. I have yet to block it and though the pattern says doing so is "IMPORTANT" I think it looks pretty good as is so we'll see.

What to start next?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Lace fairies

Samantha's Branching Out pushed me over the edge right into the frenzy over this Knitty pleasure. In fact, this is a blatant copy-cat scarf! It was my first adventure in lace knitting and I really didn't expect it to go so well...but it seems as though the lace fairies were with me during this short and enormously satisfying journey.

I knit it up in less than 10 glorious hours! This was such a fun knit and I am thrilled with the result. I knit it up using Bernat Satin in a cream colour (I have so much Bernat Satin in the's top of the line Zeller's yarn!). Anywho, I knit it on US7 and, like Sam, I also knit it in two separate halves (13 pattern repeats on each side) grafting them at the centre so that the ends would match. Bonus, I love the flowery pattern created by the graft-line.

It is only after I had completed it and started looking up how this blocking thing works anyway (would you believe I've never blocked anything in my life before) that I learned that acrylic is apparantly "unblockable." Imagine my horror! There were some ramblings here and there about killing acrylic (which frankly sounds too violent - afterall, this was a satisfying knit) and others about steam blocking by hovering a steaming iron over the garment (without touching it) and letting it cool and dry before unpinning and handling it.

I tried the latter. Not only was it quick, but the results were terrific (the pic below shows the scarf half blocked - I didn't have enough pins to block the whole thing at once). The Bernat Satin softened up considerably to near cashmerey goodness and the pattern really opened up notwithstanding the gained 1 1/2 inches in the width of my scarf and an extra foot in length. My finished scarf is 7 inches wide by 60 inches long.

Well that's another Christmas gift down. This one for my mother. I think she'll love it ;0)


P.S.: I found that writing down each row of the pattern on a separate index card and flipping as I got to each row minimised frustrating screw-ups. Will definately do that again in the future for pattern repeats. Just one of the many tips that I picked up by reading this thread on Craftster.

Monday, November 21, 2005

No need to panic...

I found the pattern for these fingerless gloves with a mitten hood in the Lopi pattern book I'm using for my husband's sweater. They are knit up with Lopi on size 9's and consist of less than 40 stitches per round. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn't!
These can be knit up in 1 day! The glove part sounded tricky to me since I've never knit gloves before, but by the time I got to the fingers the pattern started to make sense to me and turned out great...the first time. No ripping here ladies. Stitches are then picked up at the back to make a mitten hood to keep those fingers warm when you don't need 'em.

Bonus: These mittens are actually so functional AND warm enough that I think even a GUY would wear them. I don't know about you, but all the men I know wear those leather gloves all winter long that are so not appropriate for Canadian winters. I think they wear them for the functionality. Well these glove/mitts are even more functional I think because you can easily pop the mitten hood off (you can do it with one hand) and there you have fingers to answer your phone, fumble for keys, open a Joe Louis, dig in your pockets for whatever it is you've got in there...when you're done pop the hood back on and there you go keeping your hands warm again! There is even a buttonhole in the thumb to pop out the tip. Seriously folks, these are the perfect man mitts!

And using up only 1 1/4 balls of Lopi, we're talking under $10 per pair. Needless to say, I've found that perfect Christmas knitting project for all the men on my list this year, and at a day each...I can breath! No more need to panic. It's going to be okay!


Friday, November 18, 2005

My Irish Hiking Scarf

I started my Irish Hiking Scarf about this time last year knitting it out of Classic Elite 03 Tweed and size 7 needles. It was intended to be a Christmas gift for my dear husband but since I didn't have that much knitting time to put in it last year, progress was slow and I kinda gave up on the poor bugger. I've been hiding it in various clever hiding spots since them, but the beauty of the pattern always keeps me coming back!

Since I'm on maternity leave this year and have more time to put in it, I'm committed to do right by it and finish it up. Though since my husband is getting the Hringur sweater this year, I think I'll gift the scarf to his father instead. Anyway, I have knit about one foot last year and am now up to 16 inches. It's particularly slow knitting since I am knitting it through the back loop to tighten up the stitches between the cables (somehow they always look sloppy and loose when I knit conventionally - like in the second repeat from the needle where I forgot to knit TBL).

In case you are wondering, that is my Brittany Birch cable needle woven into it and that pink spare yarn hanging off the needle has eight loops in it to keep track of the pattern repeat. I move to the next loop on every row and when I get to the bottom where the two strands are, I know that I need to cross the cables on that row.

Well lots more to go!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

November Stashbuster: Check!

I completed a project! Yay! It seems like forever since I felt the joy of weaving in that last end. Here is my November Stashbuster project: the argyle cardigan from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits.

I knit is using 2 balls of blue and about 20 yards of navy Bernat Satin. The fabric is a little stiff because I had to use small needles to obtain the correct gauge, but hopefully it'll soften up when washed. I followed Debbie's instructions to the letter in knitting up the neckline even though they seemed strange to me and in the greatest Debbie Bliss tradition, it turned out perfectly! I don't know why I doubted her instructions, I've only had success knitting her beautiful baby patterns in the past.

I ended up duplicate stitching the argyle pattern using directions from the Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting and Crocheting and am so stoked with how it turned out. So simple and yet so convincing. Sure beats the intarsia method! Plus it can be an after thought add-on for those projects that look a little plain once completed.

(This reminds me, I came across a chart for a little aligator somewhere on the Internet but didn't book mark or print it and now I can't find it anywhere. If you've seen it too and remember where it's from, please let me know.)

And now, I can get started on all that Christmas knitting. I picked up a couple of balls of Lopi at my LYS this weekend and am working on the Vermir mitts from Lopi 24. They are essentially fingerless gloves with a mitten hood for the best of both worlds. If they work out, I'll be making lots of these for all the men on my Christmas list. A practical quick knit: it (might be) a good thing ;-)


P.S. Julian's bouncing along in the jumper and in the time that I wrote this post, he learned to make bubbles and is razzing away. His sleeper is completely soaked. He's just sooo cute!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Let it snow!

This morning we woke up to a blanket of snow. At first I was excited at the wonderous sight of all the snow covered roof tops in the neighbourhood. Then I realised that I haven't yet made arrangements for snow removal this year. Then I remembered that my husband didn't put on his snow tires yet. Then I remembered that the swing and barbeque are still on the back porch. Yikes! Then I thought about how difficult it would be to push a stroller around the neighbourhood for our daily walk. And then I realised that Christmas is now very near and I have not one single present knit up yet! Oh, my.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sweaters for my men

I've finished the body of the Hringur sweater for my husband. I still have the sleeves and yoke to knit so I'd say that project is about 30% completed. I haven't started working on the sleeves yet because, frankly, I'm bored with it.

So instead I've been working on my November Stashbusters project: the Argyle Cardigan from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits. The argyle pattern is supposed to be knit using the intarsia method for the colour blocks while stranding the main colour. It looked really crappy (on both sides) so I ripped it out and will embroider it on using duplicate stitch when I'm done. I've never done that either but it sounds easier and neater.

So far, I've completed the body and one sleeve. One more sleeve to go on this one and then I'll try to figure out the neck band which, according to the pattern, is knit separately from the button-hole and button bands. This doesn't make sense to me. Why not knit the ribbing all the way around from the left front, around the neckline and down the right front?

Maybe I'll be bold and try to knit it all at once unless I can figure out why they are knitted separately. The big obstacle at this point is that there are four live stitches on either side of the neckline to be picked up when knitting it so I'm assuming that the button-hole and button bands are picked up along the edge of the neckline as well. Unfortunately I can't tell from looking at the picture in the book since it is full of artsy shots that don't show detail very well.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that one.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Each week, the website Photo Friday posts an assignment. The mission of the participants is to capture a creative interpretation of the week’s theme in a photograph. This week's theme is "Warmth".

This is a photograph of Julian and I the day after his birth. Looking at the photo, I remember the warmth of his little being against mine, the warmth of the sunbeam that shone upon us and the warmth that filled my soul that day.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Just three...

I have a rule about not having more than 3 projects on the needles at once. More than that and I don't think I'd be disciplined enough to finish them. Problem is, I have 3 boring knits on the needles right now and have received lots of new yarn and patterns in the past few weeks and really feel the itch to start something else.

I have this handpainted silk and chenille for a wave scarf:

This cream coloured cotton for a baby cabled sweater:

This blue merino for a personalised baby blanket from Erika Knight's "Special Knits for Cherished Babies" (Julian LOVES blankets):

This Debbie Bliss Astrakhan for cardigan #4 from the Fall 2005 Vogue knitting:

And that's just the new stuff...I have lots and lots of stash yarn already earmarked for baby projects and Christmas gifts.

But I can't get to it until I finish the Lopi Lite sweater (I am hoping to finish the body today and maybe even start sleeves). I won't post a photo because, sadly, it looks exactly like it did on Thursday. I also have an Irish Hiking Scarf on the needles (it's been on the needles for almost a year already). And I am also working on the baby argyle cardigan for my November stashbuster project.

I just need to finish one before I can start on a new exciting project but each of them will require at least a week of dedicated knitting before completion. Maybe I need to change the rule...4 projects isn't too many, is it? I need some instant gratification. ;0)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Adult sweaters take forever and are boring to knit! Granted I haven't had that much knitting time this week what with halloween, home renovation projects, housekeeping, Doctor's appointments for Julian and I and his 4-month vaccine. Every chance I got though, I knit on the Hringur sweater in Lopi 24 for my husband. The body is knit in the round and doesn't knit very fast. I have to knit up 38 cm before I can put the body on a stitch holder and move on to the sleeves. I'm at 29cm. This is taking forever. I want to knit on it exclusively so that I can get it done faster, but come on! IT'S WAY TOOO BORING!

My mom turns 60 on Sunday and I am hosting a birthday dinner to celebrate. A few of my aunts and uncles will be dropping by and since they have never seen the house, my husband and I are feeling pressure to finish up some of our renovation and decorating projects. Entertaining is such great motivation for us to get stuff done. I think every house project we completed had to be done before so-and-so comes to visit. If it weren't for visitors, we'd live in an untidy white house with no curtains, no pictures, no accent furniture and boxes everywhere! We also realised that winter is coming and that me must finish up all projects requiring ventilation pronto before it gets too cold to keep the windows open. So I've been putting on my painting gear and sneaking down to the basement during Julian's morning naps to seal, prime and paint the concrete basement floor. I'm happy to report that it's done!

Next up, we have to put up lots of pictures and it would be nice to fix our doors upstairs since 3 of them (including the bathroom door) don't close and the other one closes but springs open in less then 3 seconds! We watch plenty of Home and Garden telly and as a result constantly overestimate our handiness. The truth is though that we are actually not that handy. It's hard to admit, but it's true.

The good news though is that the big dinner is on Saturday and so everything should be back to normal by Sunday and I'll be able to get back to my knitting projects (can't wait). I'm already starting to panick about completing Christmas projects: I need to make a plan...


Monday, October 31, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Socktoberfest socks

They're done! And I didn't even need an extention which really is exceptional for me. I just couldn't wait to wear them both! I always wear the first completed sock while working on the's my motivational sock. Well with the time it took me to complete the second, my motivational sock is noticeably larger and fuzzier than the other. I hope they even out with wash and wear. Nonetheless, I love these socks! They are very yummy. And bonus : I have just the shoes to showcase them. These socks were meant to be.

Thank-you Lolly for organising Socktoberfest. It was great fun to see everyone's socks. I think next year I'll try something lacy and kick it up a notch.

So what's next? My very first adult sweater. It is pattern six from Lopi twenty-four. I ordered it as a kit from Camilla Valley Farms and received it on Wednesday. It is also my first stranded work and I hope I didn't bite off more than I can chew. I've got about 10 cm of the body done, I need 38cm to get to the armpit. Then the sleeves. Then the sleeves and body are worked together for the yoke. I really hope I can handle the stranding because I'll have a lot of knitting time invested before I even get there. This is actually Lopi Lite so it's not as quick a knit as I had hoped though the 18st gauge to 10cm isn't that bad.

Follow-up on Julian's squeak: it's gone and the pediatrician doesn't feel it necessary to proceed with any further testing or follow-up. Yay!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Theodore's sweater

Baby Theodore is still comfy in his mommy's tummy, but could make his entrance any day. His parents and big brother dropped by on the weekend to lend Julian their Jolly Jumper and boy does Julian love it. He wasn't quite sure what to do at first but once he got the hang of it, he put on a baby version of River Dance. It's a riot!

I cast on for Theodore's sweater after their visit on Saturday and finished it this evening. I used the same seamless yoked cardigan pattern as for Julian's baptism sweater though this one is knit in the smallest size. I just love this pattern.

Now that it's done...on to the second Socktoberfest sock. I've got most of the cuff done and should have some good knitting time tomorrow while waitting at the pediatrician's office. Julian started to squeak when he was about 5 weeks old. It was occasional (and cute) at first and then constant (and worrisome) by around 8 weeks. He was diagnosed with laryngomalacia which sounds scary but is actually nothing more than a soft larynx (voice box) and is usually outgrown by age 2. Well, Julian is 4 months old today and I am happy to report that the squeak is gone. Hopefully he'll get the all clear tomorrow and this will already be behind us.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Neapolitan ice cream socks

One Soctoberfest sock down. One to go. It's a good thing we don't have ice cream in the house because if there were I'd surely be sporting it on my hips!

Don't these look exactly like neapolitain ice cream? They're knit from Confetti Superwash and while I love the colour, the dye is inconsistent with lots of bare spots where the colours meet. Very annoying. Nevertheless, I love my ice cream sock and can't wait to have a finished pair.

I'm looking for a simple pattern for a knitted baby hat with earflaps. I love this beautiful one knit by Julie, but don't want to buy a whole book just for this pattern. I've been looking for a free pattern online and haven't had any luck yet. Maybe I'll try to figure it out on my own (very scary thought...when it comes to knitting, I need direction). We'll see...

Now for the true highlight of my day...
I mentionned in an earlier post that my little Jules won't take naps during the day and is especially fussy this week with the teething and all. Michelle left a comment about how her baby swing had worked wonders for her so I thought it may be worth a shot seeing as nothing else we tried seemed to help.

I did some research at epinions, picked one out, and had my husband buy it on his way home from work. We chose the Fisher Price Nature's Touch Baby Papasan Cradle Swing. As a cradle swing, it can rock side-to-side or front-to-back which I thought was a nice feature. Another nice feature... it matches our living room!

Julian went from fussy to sleepy in under 7 minutes. Love it!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mommy mittens and money laundering

Knitting seems to have taken over my life. I get so obsessed with finishing a project that I go to bed at the wee hours of the night (morning), the laundry is piling up, we're having McDonald's for dinner and the house...well it's needing some attention. So this morning I thought that I should pull myself together and set aside one day a week to attend to household chores. Dare I say it...a NON KNITTING day.

Well I made it to 1pm. That was a dumb idea anyway. Plus McDonald's has it's Monopoly contest going and we're only missing like 30 pieces to win!

So I finished my Fleece Artist mittens, but not before I laundered and machine dried a 10 dollar bill left in my husband's pants! It came out looking like one of those "new" bills you get from the bank machine: crispy clean. There's nothing to this money laundering thing. Really the perma press wash cycle and the fluff dryer setting work wonders. The bill is also spring-time fresh! So if you've got dirty money... LOL!

Kidding aside let me get to the fleece artist. It is soooo yummy. I bought this kit from Ram Wools a few weeks ago. The wool and mohair knit up together beautifully and on size 7 needles it is a super quick (and marvelously satisfying) knit. This wool is so great. My husband loves these mitts. Good thing the colour is girly or else my mommy mittens would be at risk of a mittnapping!

On the baby front, we finally figured out why Jules hasn't been himself this past week. All this crying and fussiness just isn't like him. He's just a week shy of being 4 months old and my husband and I think he's teething. He got red cheeks yesterday and I thought he had a fever but he didn't. I looked up the signs of teething in one of our baby books and he has ALL the signs: drooling, biting down (lots of nursing ouchies these past couple of days ), red patches on the cheeks, runny nose, fussiness, refusing to nurse. Of course it didn't say how long this would last. Though he's got to grow what? like 24 teeth? Is this going to be our life now?

More about my Socktoberfest sock tomorrow. I'm almost finished the first.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

I heart stashbusters

I knit a little red hat to match Friday's mittens. A small step for a normal knitter, but a giant leap for me. Hats and I have a bumpy past. They say insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That's me when it some to knitting hats (in the round anyway).

Hats knit by moi always end up looking like they're made to keep Andre the Giant's head warm (or worse). My first attempt at making one actually turned into a sweater for a gradeschooler!!! Well I never finished it but it could have been a sweater for a gradeschooler... They always look so small in the first couple of rows, I get nervous that it won't fit and start over with a bunch of extra stitches. You think I would learn from this mistake and know better for my next attempt. But no, I repeat this everytime I attempt a hat.

So I was doubtful when I started to work on this hat but I really wanted to get rid of that half ball of cheap red yarn. I had 69 yards left (I measured) and the pattern only required 60. Perfect! But could I do it? Well I frogged it about 4 times, used tiny needles for the rib to try to cinch it some and the fit ended up being just right. Hat success! What a great stashbustin' project. And the red yarn is all gone. Now there's the green ball, the blue, the yellow...

In baby news...
It occurred to my husband and I this weekend that we have now officially entered a whole new life stage. Grandma offered to sit Julian for a few hours on Saturday afternoon and we weren't about to turn that down. So we dropped him off, got in the car (I got to sit in the front seat, whoohooo!) and then since we couldn't think of anything else to do...we went to the mall! And we bought him little froggie Robeez shoes. So cute ;-) Yup, whole new life stage...


Friday, October 14, 2005

Little mittens

My little Jules has been a little more cranky than usual in the past few days. At 3 months he sleeps through the night from about 9:30 pm to 6 or 7 in the morning. After a quick feed he usually falls right back asleep until about 10am. This is just great. Problem is, he doesn't nap during the day. I keep telling him that all the other little babies are taking afternoon naps but he just doesn't believe me. He's just so tired in the afternoon but he works himself into a tizzy and then just can't calm himself down. I don't know what to do. Hopefully this is just a phase and will soon pass.

Meanwhile, I just don't get to put in much knitting time during the day. So I was really happy to come accross this pattern. In just a few hours I was able to complete his very first pair of mittens. They are red thumbless mitts with a moss stitch heart detail (which doesn't photograph very well unfortunately). I just love the way they turned out. He seems to like them too and doesn't mind having them on. Straight to his mouth they went for a little taste.

Some progress on my Soctoberfest socks. I've got one cuff and leg done and the gauge is finally right. I'm now working on the heel flap which seems to be taking FOREVER. It's my least favourite part of sock knitting. Can't wait to get to the gusset. Hopefully tomorrow...


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Anny needs...

Here's a peak at my Socktober socks right before I start froggin' ...again. Given that the yarn is the same weight as my previous socks and the ball band gauge info was identical. I thought it completely unnecessary to swacth. WRONG! They're still way too big. It's a shame to frog these though because as you could tell from the picture, the self-patterning somehow created a wonderful chevron in the varigated row. That probably won't happen again but hey, at least they'll fit (hopefully).

Now for some fun...I saw this meme on Rainberry Blue yesterday and had to try it. You simply google your name followed by "needs" and see what comes up. Here's what "anny needs" generated. No filtering, these are the actual top 5:

  1. The Anny's needs tend to align most strongly with commercial needs (especially when it comes to yarn).
  2. Anny needs no introduction (enough said!).
  3. Anny needs no booze (that depends on whether I'll have to re-re-frog the Soctoberfest socks).
  4. United States Needs to Scale Down Oversized Anny (now I know I could probably use a jog but this seems wholly unnecessary).
  5. Anny need absolutely to be disciplinate (I don't know about that one).

I guess that says it all. LOL.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I worked on it in the morning. I worked on it in the afternoon. When my husband came home I handed him the baby and worked on it some more. I even stayed up 'til the wee hours many a night working on it. And when I finally finished it after a few weeks of exclusive knitting...I didn't even like it!!!

The cable-knit hoodie in the Winter 04/05 Phildar Layette looked very cute. I knit it using the recommended Phildar Superbaby yarn in the olive colourway. This was my first significant cable project. The cables actually turned out pretty well. The colour is also very flattering on my little dude. But something about it is off and I'm not sure what it is. Maybe when Julian grows into it I'll like it more, but for now it's going to the bottom of the drawer.

I can't wait to start working on something else and as luck would have it, I just received my order from Ram Wools today and have plenty to choose from: another baby sweater from Sirdar, a silk and chenille fan and scallop scarf, some Fleece Artist mohair mittens, and the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan cardigan from the Fall'05 Vogue Knitting magazine. I'll probably start with the mittens. After that green sweater, I need some instant gratification and mittens should do the trick.

...and I'd love to join everyone in celebrating Socktoberfest. I have a few balls of Confetti self-patterning yarn in a pink and brown colourway hanging out in my stash that are calling to me. This will be my second pair of socks ever and I think I'll use the Lion Brand pattern again. Sure the stockinette gets kind of boring after a while, but I'm not sure if anything else would work with self-patterning yarn. It is lots of fun to see what wonderful socks everyone else is knitting, many of which I'd like to try myself as soon as I have a better mastery of sock-knitting basics.


Friday, October 07, 2005

I'm interchangeable!

When I came across the quiz for "What kind of knitting needle are you?" I must admit I hesitated. Last time I took a knitting quizz...I was acrylic yarn! Not that there's anything wrong with that ;-) I knit all baby garments with acrylic. Julian doesn't react to it and it's machine wash and dry which for baby garments is a necessity! But I really wanted to be wool or silk or even alpaca...

So when I took the "What kind of knitting needle are you?" quiz I was expecting the worst, but apparantly...

You are interchangeable.
Fun, free, and into everything, you've got every
eventuality covered and every opportunity just
has to be taken. Every fiber is wonderful, and
every day is a new beginning. You are good at
so many things, it's amazing, but you can
easily lose your place and forget to show up.
They have row counters for people like you!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by

Yeah, that sounds about right. I like that. And of course it's totally accurate because I love my Denise Interchangeables and knit with them most of the time. As for row counters...well let's say that it is helpful but not fool proof. Even with my Kacha Kacha I still have to guess every once in a while. Did I hit the Kacha last time? Heehee!

Julian's thanksgiving sweater now has a back, front panel and hood...I'm still holding out hope that I'll be able to finish the other front panel and sleeves in time but between housework, laundry and entertaining my grumpy little guy, I must say it's not looking good. You know what it's like.

I went a little nuts with the net rings yesterday and joined a whole bunch. Greetings to all those like-minded knitters out there.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thanksgiving sweater?

Well another race against the clock is on...this time for Thanksgiving which is Monday (in Canada). I started to knit a cable-knit hoodie for Jujube from another Phildar magazine. It is my first significant cable project (though I did knit a Good ole cabled scarf for my sister last Christmas).

The back is completed and took 4 days which seems like an insame amount of time to spend knitting what is ultimately a 12" x 12" square.

I'm almost done one front panel as well. That leaves 4 days to knit the right front, 2 sleeves and the hood. Can it be done?

I'd keep my fingers crossed but that would slow down my knitting considerably ;-)

In blog news, I figured out a way to post a finished objects gallery in my sidebar. It is a permalink to the October 2nd posting below. Check it out.