January Round-up

January was pretty decent for tackling my Resolution list. The HUGE stash organization was a massive help in kick starting my creative juices and I spent the better part of the month going through my pile of works in progress (WIP) and taking stock of what I have on the needles and if I still want to complete that project. There was some frogging and there was some completion.

One of my oldest WIPs was the crochet Queen Anne’s Lace scarf.

According to my Ravelry queue, I started it back in 2008 from two skeins of Manos Silk blend. I had a little over one foot left to crochet when I put it down and in the intervening years completely forgot how to make the stitches! Frustrated with my inabilty to read my work, I booked a private crochet lesson with Megan of LettuceKnit; she had me sorted in about 15 minutes and also got me started on the Wingfeathers Shawl in Handmaiden Mini Maiden. It is my current travel project, it’s small, simple and if my hook falls out of the stitch while it’s in my bag, I only have to pick up one stitch. Unlike that time my needles slipped out of a shawl I was knitting, causing me to rip back to the stockinette portion to pick up my stitches.

The structure of crochet fabric has caught my fancy so consequently, I have found crochet projects finding their way onto my Ravelry queue. The Wool-Eater blanket is top-most in my mind as it will lend itself nicely to making a healthy dent in my sock yarn stash.

Hot on the heels of completing the Queen Anne scarf, I hauled out another WIP. Last week I cast off Driven, my 2011 NaKniSewMo project.

Oh, how I love this sweater! My initial purpose in knitting it was to have a warm sweater to wear at work as it can get really cold on the front desk. We wear uniforms at work which have a jacket, but it’s made from poly-beast, which does nothing for keeping you warm, thankfully we are allowed to wear black sweaters or cardigans. I went to the stash for yarn, where I discovered, for some unknown reason, I didn’t have a sweater quantity of black yarn. Am still not quite sure how that happened, but it was quickly remedied by a November 1 panic striken run to The Purple Purl where I picked up some Diamond Luxury Collection Lima which worked a treat.

Continuing with my WIP submission mission, I decided it was time to come to terms with my “issues” with Every Last Yard.

Ravelry tells me that I cast on ELY on December 25, 2010 with the 2 skeins of IndigoDragonFly Merino Silk DK that Chris & the kids gave me for Christmas that year. I remember making excellent progress until I got to the lace portion, which is precicesly when my math skills decided to take a trip to Cuba! I knit, ripped & re-knit the same 2 inches of that ‘effing lace for a good few weeks before I tossed the sweater across the room with a cloud of very blue air trailing it. I picked it up earlier this month and yet again fought with that stupid lace section for about two weeks before my math skills returned from their extended vacation all bronzed and reeking of cigars & rum laced umbrella drinks. Turns out I kept forgetting the two stitches between the ribbed collar and the start of the lace pattern which would explain why I could never get that son of a motherless goat lace pattern to match up properly…a stiff drink and excessive use of stitch markers may or may not have followed this realization…

There were a few small/quick projects complete as well. The kids get a bit miffy if they see me knitting too many projects that are not for them, this is generally followed by demands for something handknit. Fortunately, they can be easily placated with smaller knitted items like the LyaLya Hoodie.

 

These hoodies take under a skein of Malabrigo to knit the adult size (reducing my collection of single balls of yarn by 2) and have the added advantage of negating the need for a scarf, something both my kids refuse to wear, but will bitch incessantly about the cold air going down their necks…

There were a few other WIPs that I finished, but forgot to photograph so they won’t get much of a mention here.

As productive as January was on the fiber front, I found myself floundering on two other resolutions: keeping ahead of the housework & getting back into the habit of meal planning. Heading into February, I’m going to use the How to Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day program and have complied a list of meals which will be printed out, cut into strips & tossed into a bowl for the kids to draw 4 each week (I choose 4 meals to compensate for left over meals). We’ll see how successful I was in adding these new routines to the household in 29 days…

 

Oh right it’s a new year!

Because I have spent nearly my entire working life in the service industry I have very different (often negative) associations with almost every holiday on the calendar. There is nothing like seeing people come to near fisty-cuffs over the last baguette at the bakery or witnessing families who have clearly spent way too much time together freak the hell out on the poor holiday hire who has very politely informed them that their level of membership does not allow 15 guests and it also expired 3 years ago. The stuff I’ve seen is enough to make me weep for “society” and to seriously consider relocating to a very remote cabin in a very remote part of the world with a very large dog, an even bigger gun, my books, loom, spinning wheel, yarn…you get the picture.

Of all the questionable behaviour and annoying habits/traditions of the Holiday Season, the one I do try to hold to is the New Years Resolution. Perhaps it’s a bit of residual who knows what from my years as an active pagan (I lapsed into a comfortable solitary practice years ago when the kids arrived as getting out with a newborn is like mounting an expidition to Mt. Everest) but there is something very nearly electric and palpable about a new year! I get the same excitement and anticipation at the beginning of a new school year. It’s the combination of a fresh, new start and the heady scent of possibility that I look forward to.

My first resolution is always: Start as you mean to go on! This can be harder to keep than you think! After that my resolutions vary depending on what I want to accomplish and improve over the year.

For 2012 I’m going to look inward (in a sense) and return to some old practices that served us well but fell to the way side. Two of my resolutions that I’m most excited for are my decision to improve my textile/craft skills either by challenging them or taking a course and to fill the holes on The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred list.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

It shall be fun to complete the list and I have a very dear friend who will probably quite willingly assist me with #37, #45 & #73…

Wish you all a very happy & safe New Year and hope that you too were able to start as you mean to go on.

 

 

Ketchup…

Oh it’s been some time since I’ve fed the blog and now there is way too much stuff to catch up on.

My new gig as a mostly SAHM is working for us. The kids are happier, we are eating better and now that the kids are back at school, I’m getting a nice bit of quiet time which is leading to a HUGE upswing in my fiber time…Oh I have missed this!

Over the summer I knit a Classic Baby Surprise Sweater, 2 baby sweaters using the super great  Mossy Jacket pattern, a toque, some booties, a Hitchhiker scarf/shawl, a February Lady Sweater and because the baby I knit the BSJ for arrived much larger that I had expected, I’m knitting her a Striped Smock Top out of some Noro Silk Garden. There are photos of all these, but they are not stored on the computer I am writing this post from…will have to get into the habit of just using one PC for all my stuff!

The looms have seen action as well! There was a baby blanket and three scarves completed. I’m trying my hand at Leno and getting ready to warp the big floor loom to weave a few blankets as gifts…

The only habit that hasn’t seen any action is the spinning, which is sad really as I saved up & sold a few things to purchase a SideKick, the wheel I have been waiting for!

Now that things are settling down around here, I’m looking forward to getting back in to the swing of blogging regularly, seeing my fiber production & resulting stash reduction pick up more speed!

 

 

While ya’ll were at the Frolic…I was elsewhere!

Yesterday (April 30) was the annual DKC Knitters Frolic and for something like the sixth year in a row I missed it, and I’m okay with that because I was elsewhere.

My Mum and I registered for a Woodland Pack Basket course at the Canadian Canoe Museum, and it was a really good time! The class started at 9 am and went till about 5. Our instructor Beth and volunteer Donna were excellent teachers who were EXCEPTIONALLY patient.

Over the course of the day we were shown how to make this pile of supplies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both my Mum and I have always enjoyed traditional handcrafts so this course was a great way to spend a rare day out together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only real draw back to the day (and it’s exceptionally minor) was that I realized just how much I really do enjoy these sorts of activities and wish I had clued into this sooner and worked towards making it into some sort of career. I love shows like Edwardian Farm and think Ruth Goodman has one of the coolest gigs ever and I may be a little envious of her proximity to Peter Ginn, but that’s secondary. The whole concept of living History Museums and experimental archeology is something I would really enjoy. So then the question becomes, how does one go about finding such a job? There are a few living History Museums in Toronto…so perhaps I should start there and see what comes.

In the meantime, Mum and I registered for another course at the Canoe Museum…in November we will learn how to make a traditional Capote from a point blanket! Just like the Voyageurs wore! So much fun!

 

 

 

Well…That went fast!

It really is true that the older you get the faster time seems to pass…and suddenly you realize that you have a serious back log of blog posts that you kept meaning to finish but somehow didn’t.

So this is going to become a squash post where you get the highlights of those incomplete posts…

For starters, I have a 4 month contract full time job…it’s good & I like having weekends with the kids & Chris…

I failed to complete the knitted toys for the kids, I do plan to finish them, but not right now…

There was some fiber related Christmas crafting with the kids…

Only two balls were broken, I consider that a majorly successful craft venture.

A friend pissed me off so I knit him a hat out of cashmere on 3mm needles in 5 days…you really had to be there to understand the logic behind that. He was appropriately appreciative to be granted a place on the Yes-knit list… then two days later, in classic boy fashion made a dumb-assed comment that has landed him on the no-knit list.

There has been other knitting completed and many more started…I need to work on my project monogamy as I have a feeling it will increase my number of completed projects.

I’m sorting out my knitting goals for this year, but that’s another post for another day…

And finally, war between me and the neighbourhood squirrels has begun over my bird feeders…

Undercover knitting

While perusing my Ravelry queue yesterday for some inspiration after frogging a bunch of WIPs that had lost their relevancy. I stumbled across the solution for two problems I was facing: a new knitting project AND the kids Christmas gifts! For once I even had all the necessary bits and pieces too! It’s a perfect storm of perfect!

Both the kids have a hand knit toy from me, Abi has a SackGirl and Liam has Eli the Elephant. They love their stuffies and have requested friends be made to keep them company…How could I refuse? Now I have just under 35 days to knit Otto and Sophie without the kids seeing me working on either toy. With no time to waste, I printed off the patterns, tossed the stash for the required yarns, grabbed the needles, flipped a coin to figure which project to cast on first (Otto won the toss),

made a pot of tea and settled in with episode 6 & 7 of The History Of Scotland for some undercover knitting…then I hit my first snag…The Disappearing Loop Cast On. The pattern directs you to the instructions at TechKnitter blog…and I just did not get it! I’m a visual learner and need REALLY good diagrams for something to make sense to me, videos or in person demos are the best way for me to learn…YouTube has a video that worked like a charm!

Once the cast on was sorted I was off and knitting, had the head all set to cast off and start the body…but I had over stuffed it and I was not happy…frogging ensued and there is a do-over this morning.

35 days and counting to knit a bear and a rabbit without being made…

Girl-cave

This Fall has been all about Change and learning to adapt; I’ve become quite skilled at learning to tuck and roll with it.

There was/is a lot of fiber therapy going on…this has been made quite easy with the creation of a studio space of sorts in the basement.

I was hoping to finally have warped my floor loom, but a piece was damaged during the relocation. The replacement part has been ordered and should be here in 2 weeks and then I will get on with a weave down of the stash… while amalgamating the assorted bins of fiber and yarn I discovered my fiber stash is a lot larger than I had thought. It’s a bit embarrassing and plans are afoot to get it under control!

I’ve been knitting like a fiend and have a few projects that need to be blogged about and then there has been some spinning!

With the year coming to a close sooner than I expected, I’m going to take a novel approach to my fiber crafting in the new year…I’m going to attempt to get a orderly queue of projects set up and am playing with creating a personal sock and shawl club set up to get me using up those lovely yarns I discovered. I’m also considering an Opus project…

Busting out the Wheel…

In a spate of fiscal responsability, stash management and a bout of creative whatever-you-want-to-call-it, earlier this week I unearthed Viktorya (that was done on purpose and is not a misspelling), located all her bobbins and located the misplaced flyer because; Dudes, I was going to spin!

Viktorya has sat idle for almost two years thus causing my hard learned spinning skills to go fallow, meanwhile my fiber stash was seeing semi-regular deposits thanks to two different year long batt of the month club memberships I had received as gifts. NOTE TO PARTNERS OF SPINNERS: Batt/fiber of the months clubs are wonderful gifts for your beloved. They will get colour/fiber blends they would not normally have chosen which will expand their creative horizons providing they are open to the experience. There were also a few additions I made here and there when something caught my eye, needless to say I have quite the fiber stash that’s just bursting with creative potential, some days there is a little too much potential which makes the decision making a bit difficult!

So this is where I found myself the other night, I was not feeling the knit love but wanted to keep my hands busy (bad things happen when I’m idle…walls have been know to go missing in my house during such moments), while looking through a box of stuff for something completly different I found this:

Two 100g braids of Sweet Georgia BFL+Silk in the Summer Dusk colourway…luscious ain’t it? My Dad will be pleased that Sweet Georgia is a Canadian Company and that I bought it at my local yarn store. He’s all about the buying Canadian, local and supporting the small business owner/artists.

I divided the first brain in half, fluffed it ever so slightly, poured a cup of tea and got to work…

BFL + Silk is a great fiber for acolyte spinners, it’s a bit slippy, a bit grippy, quite forgiving and all around dead sexy! Highly recommend it!

I spun up the first half of my braid onto one of the bobbins ten called it a night, unfortunaly due to the work schedule I havene’t been able to get back to it and it’s KILLING ME! Just look at that yarn!

I’m aiming for my final product to be a 2-ply Worsted weight yarn with enough yardage to knit Sweetgum or one of the shawls in my Ravelry queue.

A little bit of tidying up…

And here I thought once I was done with school I would have buckets fo free time to get on top of all those things that were set aside while I was at school. THat was just silly of me! So I’m creating this ginormous catch-up post.

My seach for a full-time job in my area of study is still on going. I’ve sent out countless resumes, with next to no response so I’m taken a new approach. I’m goign to be volunteering in the Conservation Office at wok two days a week helping to digitize then enter into a searchable database many decades worth of condition reports of the artifacts. I’m terribly excited by this as I will get to see all sorts of interesting things and last time I volunteered some place, it turned into a paying job after a fairly short period of time. I have mid-height hopes.

The house still looks like a bomb went off in it, but in a few weeks we should have some repreive as we are reclaiming a portion of the basement. Our tennants are moving out at the end of the month and we are converting the basement apartment from a one bedroom to a bachelor which will give us more floor space and allow us to move a bunch of the stuff from upstairs down into the soon to be built rec-room/studio space in the basement. This reorganization will also allow for a massive declutter of the house…I’m just a bit too excited by this prospect and am prepping myself by watching Hoarders.

As for my creative pursuits…well things have been moving along nicely if a bit manic. As my evenings are no longer taken up with homework, I am able to get moving on larger (and less portable) knitting projects (read: sweaters). During my time at school I was restricted to smaller/portable projects that could be shoved into my bookbag. There were lots of hats, scarves and shawls which allowed me to trot out some of the lovely yarns in my stash and get over my reluctance at knitting with finer weight yarns. I’ve managed to get a few long term projects off my needles (and started and abandoned more projects than I care to acknowledge).

Most impressive of all was, I finally cast off my Elsewhere!

Made with super squishy Malabrigo, I had bought this yarn a long time ago to knit an ill fated Wisteria. I ended up with a irreparable issue with the cables whic so frustrated me I frogged the offending knit. I have enough skeins left over for a February Lady sweater, which will be next on the needles once I’m done with Liam’s Fall sweater.

Children’s Neck Down Jacket # 249 from Knitting Pure and Simple, knit with Malabrigo Chunky.

This little number will be seeing some heavy use as the mercury starts to drop:

Last week, after a bit of knitting ennuie hit I treated myself to two skeins of Tannis Fiber Arts Green Lable in Plum which are being transformed into a pair of Dragonskin Legwarmers.

They make for solid transit meeting, and they are coming along quite quickly!

I have much more to say but there is laundry that needs a doin’ and groceries to be procured…will try to get the rest up by weeks end.

Feeding the weaving deamon

I love my looms. Yes, that would be looms in the plural.

I love that in as short a time as one evening have a completed project and make a serious dent in the groaning fiber stash!

Looms are a simple yet sophisticated piece of machinery, I can totally see why many a retired engineer becomes smitten with weaving. With the most basic of set-ups and a solid reference book you can create some truly amazing pieces, I have some deep love for the loom…

Although I’m itching to get weaving on the 4-shaft floor loom, I’m currently contenting myself with some simple tabby weaving on the 25″ rigid heddle loom. After my last exam on August 20, I came home and promptly warped Fillippe with some Wollesyarncreations. I wanted to see if I could get a colour shifting scarf out of this yarn.

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Used my 10 dent reed, put on a 14″ wide by about 150″ long warp starting with the dark green on the outside. The second ball used in the warp was the reverse colour order of the first ball. I used the same plan with the weft yarns, but miscalculated and ended up being about 10″ too short to get through the final few colour repeats of the last ball, as it is the scarf/shawl is almost 3 meters long including fringe, it could double as a table runner…which I just might use it as instead of a scarf…I’m undecided.

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The total set-up and weave time was all of maybe 10 hours of joyously relaxing work. My plan is to do a few more simple tabby weave scarves to get my selvedge under control then I’m going to get all wild and crazy with the techniques I learned in the workshop Jane Patrick taught at The Spinning Loft a year and a half ago with Denny.

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