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 stash...it'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...