Making of a cyclist…

I was going to post a well overdue crafting post as there has been a lot of that going on, but something way more thrilling happened around here just this afternoon…



This has been a while in the making. Last Summer we bought him a bike that came with training wheels and he was alternating between “getting it” and being thoroughly frustrated by biking.  This Spring after being teased by a friend (the little jerk!) about still having training wheels on his bike he asked for them to be removed. One fall was all it took for him to decided he didn’t want to learn to ride. I didn’t push the issue, so he found himself scootering along the side walk to school while Abi & I rode our bikes on the road, which frustrated him even more as we could go faster but he refused to ride his bike without the training wheels being put back on.

Instead of putting the training wheels back on, I removed the pedals from his bike, essentially turning his bike into one of those expensive balance bikes. We spent about 2 hours TOTAL putting around the block while Liam figured out his balance, then he asked for the pedals to be put back on…and then he was off…


He is still a bit wobbly when stopping and starting, but spent a good bit of time riding up and down our street, gaining in confidence then rode around the block.



Keeping it between the ditches…

Things at Gauhaus are…trying right now…But as I understood one of my Great Grans was to often say, “At least you have you’re health…”, I will also add “and my craft stash, because crafting is what is keeping me between the ditches right now.”

Often when a crafting friend is going through a rough patch the rest of us will ask if they have easy access to cashmere yarn. We don’t ask to take the piss, it’s because we all know that crafting/making is a stress reducer and the meditative effects of  making help us to often come up with solution we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of.  Even CNN has cottoned on to the benefits so, as things are a bit nutty here I’ve found myself on quite the run of making things.

Once the kids are off to school and the chores are done, I have about 3-4 hours of free time on my days off & I have been taking full advantage of that time in front of my sewing machine. Two-ish weeks ago I banged out 4 dresses in a week using a production line process that would have put a smile on Henry Ford’s face. I don’t actually recommend this approach to sewing as I was very much sick of the sight of my machine by the time I had snipped the threads off Dress#4.

086 092

The Dala horse dress is my favourite!

I used The Staple Dress pattern for all 4 dresses, I love this pattern! I didn’t shirr the waists as I can never get it right & end up with a misplaced waist, I also prefer shift style dresses which gives me a bit of flexibility to wear them over jeans or belt them for a fitted look. The only other modification I make is to place the pockets down about an inch from where the  pattern wants them. Most of the dresses have already seen some wear & I have received lots of compliments on them.

A bit of a weaving break happened after this. I warped up the Flip loom with some Wellington Fibers yarn I picked up at the Knitter’s Frolic. After warping, I realized the colors & pattern are a bit Rothko inspired. For the longest time I was not a fan of Rothko until I stumbled across a biography of him which totally changed my perspective & I rather like his work now.


The shawl is mostly done, I probably need another hour or two to finish it, but I have been distracted by a few more dress patterns & some Frida Kahlo inspired fabric…

094 093

Yeah…They are just gorgeous! The fabric on the right is what prompted the search for a new dress pattern as I want the 14″ tall line of Frida’s along the hem. I knew what pattern I wanted to use, but the fact that it was ALL IN JAPANESE had me a bit nervous, but I needed a challenge to keep my mind from obsessing about everything else that was going on so I tracked down a copy of the pattern book and got to work figuring this all out because this is the pattern page I had to work with:


Once I had sussed out which pieces I needed, I traced them using Swedish Tracing paper (Love this stuff!) and eventually made a wearable muslin since I didn’t want to mess up my lovely Frida fabric. The dress came together quite quickly considering I made some brainless errors & had to rip a few seams out to resew. I am pleased with it but will make some adjustments to the length of the top before I use the Frida fabric as it comes a bit short on me.


The blue fabric will be used to make Made By Rae’s new Bianca pattern, which I will lengthen to just below my knees.

This manic burst of productivity has been really, really helpful in keeping me level while life stuff is being sorted out and perhaps one of these craft sessions will result in the perfect solution, but until then I will keep at the stitches.










Now, where were we…

Due to some computer issues (read: it died a fast & furious death. We barely got the files we wanted off it) posting came to a dead stop and now I am so very behind I am seriously considering not trying to play catch up…but then again, this is precisely the time when photo heavy posts are good.

I was on quite a sweater roll for the first bit of the year, it has since dried up like the Sahara…not sure what happened, perhaps it was indecision or the never ending grind of this winter sucking the life out of me either way, it took a bit to find a few projects that I didn’t lose interest in.

January was the MadTosh Golden Wheat Cardi which has seen A LOT of wear, mainly at work where the non knitters I work with were duly impressed that it was handmade. You could almost see the thought process of “that’s really nice, I had no idea patterns like that were available….hmmmm perhaps I should try knitting?”. I still need to get a decent photo of me wearing it.

In February, I knit Strokkur. I’ve been a little obsessed with Iceland for the past few years & hope to visit (or just move there) one day…until such time I will have to occupy myself with knitting Lopapeysa’s…Strokkur is knit using the lighter Lett Lopi which makes for a less bulky sweater than you would get with AlafossLopi (love this yarn too!)


There is one project I am slowly chipping away at, but as it’s a gift so photos will not be happening. Have no idea when it will be done, but the plan is for Christmas…hopefully before then. This is the yarn pile for it…it’s ALL FINGERING WEIGHT!!! I will be knitting it forever!


My current transit project is coming along nicely & would be further along if I remembered my headphones more often. I like to listen to audio books and podcasts, specifically CraftLit (it’s the perfect combination of podcast & audiobook) during my commute. This is mainly to prevent people from trying to chat me up, asking how much I would charge to make (fill in the blank) for them or my personal favourite: “why are you wasting your time making something you can just buy for $10”  (answer: because I’m a better person than you are!) during the only time I can sit, knit & listen to a few chapters without interruption by kids, chores or dog.



Pattern: From Afar

Yarn: Handmaiden Bess

Colourway: possibly Cedar? the labels never list the colour name.

I did manage to finally cast of a near year old project. I have named it “Your Mum Thinks Your Girlfriend Sucks”



Pattern: Color Affection

The yarn: A sampling of Indigodragonfly Sock yarns.

Colourways: Tiny Bloodsucking Dancer, Sailor Bait: The Official Lipstick of the 2012 Walk of Shame & Slutty Thursday Afternoon Things.

My plan is to get back into a semi regular schedule of updating things, we’ll see how long this lasts…




Button, button, who’s got the button?

Two weeks ago I cast off my Golden Wheat Cardi, ends were sewn in & the sweater was blocked…and then it sat for some time because I didn’t have any suitable buttons…not quite sure how that happened, but there you are. Panicked, I tossed my button bag (realized how non-traditional a button bag was & remedied to fix that!) & came up empty, but did stop to admire my collection of buttons. My preference is for handmade either wooden or porcelain buttons as well as vintage. My parents are very good at keeping an eye out at antique shops & boot sales for sets for me. I am also trying to find out what happened to both my Granmas button jars…

006 004 008

I searched Etsy, where I found & ordered some lovely vintage buttons,


but they wouldn’t work with my new cardi. The search continued…luckily Toronto has a Fashion District, sadly it’s not as awesome as it once was, but there is a button store on the South West corner of Spadina & Queen St W. It’s about 4-ish doors west of Spadina and they only take cash (this is important!). It’s a small store but they are packed floor to ceiling with boxes of buttons amongst whom I found some suitable options…

003 030 029

As I’ll mostly be wearing this at work, I went with the solid black buttons (even though the big hot pink ones were my preferred choice) as I have a Uniform Policy I need to comply with.


Please excuse the less than stellar loo shot, but my attempt to take the photo in one of the beautiful Art Nouveau mirrors in the European Decorative Arts gallery at work turned out terribly fuzzy


…and am certain the Gallery Guard was wondering what on earth I was doing , then remembered it was me, so carried on with his rounds…

Once I had my botton situation all sorted, I decided that it was high time I followed that long tradition of having a proper button tin. These tins should be an old Quality Street or Shortbread tin, Mason jars are also acceptable. Fortunately, I picked up a tin of Quality Street over the holidays & after dumping out the leftover Orange & Strawberry cremes (seriously! who eats them?! they are as bad as those Violet Pastilles blegh!) I gathered all my buttons & discovered…I need a second tin already…


Point of editorial clarity: It appears I was dead wrong about the origins of my Maternal Great Grandmother. My parents called shortly after I wrote my last post to politely enquire which Nan came from Yorkshire then proceeded to explain that I was very wrong. Nan Richardson (nee Perrot sp?) was from Melksham, Wiltshire. Which for those of you with a far superior grasp of the counties of England will know is not even remotely close to Yorkshire & is in fact in the South of England…however my Mum has discovered in her pursuit of the family tree that Nan’s father was imprisoned for sheep stealing (more than likely to feed his large family) which is probably the event that led to my Nan coming to Canada to work as a Domestic at the age of 12 as a Home Child through the Bernardo Homes in England. This particular chapter of history is an interesting and sad one, it speaks volumes about Victorian English society and how they viewed the poor. I could go on for a fairly long time about my opinions of Industrial era child labour, the soul destroying work houses and the arrogance of the upper classes who “knew what the poor needed to set themselves straight”, but that was not the original intention of this…

Side note: In 2009 Australian PM Kevin Rudd & in 2010 British PM Gordon Brown issued formal apologies to the remaining child migrants (home children) & their descendants for the abuses which were suffered & the families separated & tossed to the corners of the Colonies. The Canadian Minister of Immigration Jason Kenny, did not issue a formal apology…we can all guess what I think of him!

We move forward…

I was looking for a great literary quote that would completely sum up my sentiments about starting a new year, but I was unable to locate one in the 10 minutes I spent looking. Had I decided to spend an entire day in research, I more than likely would have found something suitable, but there are things to knit, kids to raise, dinners to make & people to see…In short my time is too precious to spend that way. We move forward as really what else can you do? Crying over the proverbial spilled milk will not change the fact that you have a puddle to clean up, all you can do is get out the cloth, take the time to wipe it up properly so as not to have your house smell like sour milk then put on your coat & go buy another jug of milk. Times like this I am quite convinced my maternal Great Nan’s personality creeps through the genetic stew that is me. She was, from all I have heard a practical Yorkshire woman who took everything in stride. But enough of the family history….  On to the Plans for 2014!

I had hoped to put out the plans earlier than mid-January, but time being what it is…anywhoo, I find if I publicly announce what I want to do this year someone (most likely my Mum) will hold me to the plans in that polite way that Mum’s have of motivationally enquiring what you are up to. (I’ve discovered this trait is starting to take form in myself)

Chris & I (alright me!) are finally at the end of our tether with the kitchen & have found a design which we both like. While perusing the internets for some DIY decor ideas, I came across this pantry redo and was rather taken with it. Chris liked it too so we have started the process of cleaning out the kitchen of useless crap, figuring out paint colours, building a budget, taking careful measurements all in preparation of starting work in April. Why April you ask? If one is going to be sanding, painting & in general creating  a holy hell of a dusty mess, it’s best if this can be done when one can open the windows & air the place out. I am terribly excited to start this project & Chris is terrified everytime he comes home from work that I may have taken the sledge to things for an early start.

As for the craft side of things I am working to clear the decks of some long lingering projects. Later this week I will reorganize the Girl Cave, locate all the lingering WIPS & make the decision to either keep & finish the project or rip it out & salvage the yarn for something else. My parents have each asked for a jumper be knit which will help with some further wrangling of the Stash. There will also be some purging of the Stash…a few years back I thought I was a sock knitter…I am not, but I do know some one who is & some of my sock yarns will go to her.

As for the current projects, I somehow won 150$ gift certificate to a place of my choice through my work, I chose yarn…


Pattern: Golden Wheat Cardi

Yarn: MadelineTosh Chunky in Victorian Gothic

I am hoping to be done this cardi some time this week.

My travel project:


Pattern: Rikke with a few modifications

Yarn: Cephalopod Traveller in Gallifrey

I picked up this skein at Rhinebeck last Fall. I love this colour & would really like a sweater’s worth, but that will have to wait!

And then there is the sewing…

I continue to be inspired by Sonya Philip’s 100 Acts of Sewing project, I am working at:

1 – Shrinking my wardrobe, I do not need ALL THE CLOTHES!

2 – Making my own clothing either from a pattern or up-cycling thrifted clothes

3 – Reclaiming a personal style – I am more than a little done with the Frumpy Mummy uniform & the “I look just like everyone else” realization that tends to come with buying from the chain stores.

4 – When I need to buy a piece of clothing, follow my Paternal Grandmother’s advice: Buy well made, classic lines & natural fibers (okay that last one is my rule) also buy the best shoes you can afford that can be resoled, your feet will thank you for years to come!

4a. Look first to indi/local designers first.

Sonya Philip also released her  Dress No.2 pattern a few weeks back.  I eagerly ordered the pattern & took advantage of a fabric sale. Three new dresses are in the works…


The final plan for the year is to just be. It’s a bit granola munchy for me, but it’s true, I have been working hard on not having expectations & just enjoying the time I get to spend with my people.

Since everyone else did a year in review…

2013 was a year that could just suck it! Although it was not terribly nasty by comparison to other people’s 2013, it was still a test of my patience & dark humour when things went right into the shitter.

It started on January 3rd with our washer dying & the repair cost being the same as a new washer. For 2 months while we saved to buy a replacement, I hauled our laundry to the laundromat around the corner in my grocery buggy. Pro Tip: get to the laundry by 9am & all the machines are yours!

There was the death of Chris’ Grandma, a few trips to the ER with Liam and assorted other tiny & big annoyances that ended with a case of lice, a huge ice storm & large portions of Toronto without power for days. We were fortunate to have our power back by morning of Christmas Eve, but there were still families who 10+ days later were still  in the dark.

Throughout everything, I channeled my Great Nan’s ability to overcome, kept reminding myself it could be way worse, focused on the bright spots & crafted to stay sane as we soldiered on. The crafting to stay sane proved to be a fairly decent plan as I think this year saw my highest production levels in years! Annoyed with the offerings for ladies fashion and having finally lost the last dregs of the baby weight, I made 7 dresses this summer & a tunic on Christmas day! At least four sweaters for me were completed, a few shawls, lots of hats, there was some weaving and stuff for the kids (not that they actually wore them after asking for said item to be made!). This flurry of activity may be the reason for the complete lack of decent photos of any of my completed projects. This year I should show Abi how to use the DSLR to help me take photos.

025 056 096 168 1239 1307

Rhinebeck happened, some new tattoos were added, the kids learned & grew closer to the type of humans I will be proud of. I saw my people (but not often enough) and made it to the Royal Fleece Auction for the first time in 5 years. There were days where I lost it and very much wanted to pack it all in to piss off to Harris & Lewis to become a croft weaver for Harris Tweed and there were days where I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. So 2013 was survived & even enjoyed in some parts. Now I’m looking over the next year & figuring it out…


Five long years…

The second week of November is one of my favourite weeks of the year. The insanity of getting kids back to school, 3 birthdays in 6 weeks, Thanksgiving & Halloween are behind us, we’ve had a brief moment to relax & finally settled into a solid routine…and The Royal Winter Fair opens! As the advert says, “for one week, the country comes to the city” & I couldn’t be happier!

The Royal is one of my happy places. As a kid, my parents would take us each year, we would wander around looking at all the animals & displays. I have a vague memory of asking my Dad to trade in our herd of Hereford for some Jersey cows (I thought they were super pretty with those big brown eyes) and to get a few goats…he refused to discuss the possibility of goats, I am of the opinion he has some sort of childhood goat trauma of which we do not speak. At the end of the trip, my sister & I would be treated to a candy apple (can’t remember if my brother got one or not, have vague recollection he didn’t care for them & chose something else) then we would head home.

Now that I have kids, I make a point of taking them every year and they seem to enjoy it as much as I did as a kid, especially as there was a mechanical bull this year…wpid-20131110_122113.jpg

Abi stayed on for 45 seconds before flying off

The kids have finally realized the simple joy that is a peameal sandwich with mustard.


Liam has taken up my earlier position of asking for livestock. Where I harassed my Dad for cows & goats, Liam wants rabbits! Specifically Flemmish Giants! Can’t say I disagree with him….there was a black Flemmish for sale & I was sorely tempted…

wpid-20131110_114202.jpg wpid-20131110_114118.jpg wpid-20131110_114110.jpg

Abi, on the other hand, is all about the cows & sheep…

wpid-20131110_130847.jpg wpid-20131110_133352.jpg

She was quite beside herself when we found the set of triplet lambs!

I was super thrilled to see 9 Sheep to Shawl teams competing this year!

wpid-20131110_150223.jpg wpid-20131110_114512.jpg wpid-20131110_114415.jpg wpid-20131110_150223.jpg

Building memories, eating tasty food and snapping photos of livestock is not my only reason for going…This is…


That right there are fleece that have been entered in the Fleece Competition and are auctioned off on the last day of the Fair with the proceeds of the sales going to the 4H club.

It has been 5 long years since I have attended the fleece auction, so I was well due. Chris & the kids left me to my devices & headed home…

Sitting beside Our Denny, with bid cards in hand, things were about to get ugly…good thing the kids left after this photo was taken…


Our Denny, being of the good sort, appreciates the time & effort that goes into raising a sheep & she came with a plan…a plan that ended with my buying a fleece for $30/lb and another for almost $20/lb… both of these fleece were Shetlands weighing in at no more than 2-3lbs each which is about a sweater quantity. One cannot buy a sweater quantity of pure Shetland Yarn for under $90! Think about that. I remember in the early 1980s when Shepherds were getting fractions of a cent per pound of fleece. We lost a lot of our sheep farms at that time, so if my buying a $90 fleece helps in some small way to support the Shepherds, then I’m totally cool with Our Denny running up the bids on my fleece. Besides the trash talk & stink eye we exchanged each time she did it was hilarious! When I told my Dad about Our Denny bidding up my fleece his response was “Good for her!”

I sent one of my fleece off to Wellington Fibers for processing & the other which is a mixed colour came home with me so I could have another go at processing a fleece myself.



RHinebeck – Finally

I had planned to write this post within the first week after Rhinebeck, but as per usual life got in the way. In a way I’m glad it has taken me over two weeks to get around to posting about it as I can relive all the fun via the few photos I took.

The Canadian Contingent enroute

20131018_100207 20131018_112013

We were all terribly confused by this piece of “art” in the ladies loo when we stopped at the Falls before crossing the border.


A close up of whatever that is supposed to be on the stool.


Yeah, we are still not sure what that was meant to be…So we had a peek at the falls & got back in the car.


This year there were 8 of us who took over a house in Hudson, New York, about 40 minutes North of Rhinebeck. Hudson is a neat little town with some really great antique shops, restaurants & a few vintage shops. I was hoping to spend a bit more time exploring, but yarn was calling…

I loved this scrimshawed deer(?) skull in one of the antique stores.


Tasty shrimp & chorizo tacos from Mexican Radio.


Creepy abandoned, but well maintained house up the hill from where we stayed.


Neat little VW Bug pick-up hack. I really want one of my own now!


Overwhelmed by the yarn & people, I developed a slight case of camnesia while at Rhinebeck, but did manage to get in a few photos…

Saturday the Fair Grounds were packed with people,


This was taken as we entered the grounds about 15 minutes after the gates opened, it just got busier after that!

018 008

I think these are Shetlands, regardless I would really appreciate one of each colour under the Christmas tree this year.

023 025

Rhinebeck is well known for it’s broad selection of fair food, but this year I was beyond thrilled to see there was a Flaumekuchen food truck! I was introduced to this Alsatian bit of yummyness by my friend Nat (she’s Alsation) a few years ago at a restaurant in Toronto called Elle Ma Dit (sadly now closed). Flaummkuchen (or Tarte Flambe) is a very thin crust “pizza” (think saltines thin) traditionally baked with creme fraishe and bits of smoked lardons toppings, although you can top it with pretty much anything. I would happily live off this stuff!

031 030 029

I chose the basic version & would have worked my way through the menu but I was near hallucinogenic from all the rich dairyness. So tasty and the servings are large enough to be comfortable shared.


At one point I found myself in the middle of the Llama Parade.


Then the shopping started… I approach all fiber show/sales like a military strike, I make a list before hand of the vendors I want to see & what yarns weights & yardage I need for a few specific projects. This serves multiple purposes, but mainly it keeps me from becoming overwhelmed and buying ALL THE THINGS. I also kept a healthy distance from the Norm Hall booth  & only got close enough to take a picture of one of his beautiful custom wheels before running away.


Last I heard a few years ago, he had a 10 year wait list to get on his 7 year wait list for one of his wheels! Dude makes very pretty wheels.

After everyone had assembled back at the house, we laid out our purchases for show & tell…


There were some lovely yarns in that pile!

Then sooner than one would think it was time to pack it all up and head home…

20131021_104536 20131018_181359

There are plans afoot to do it all over again next year, but am not sure at this point if I’ll make it as Chris’ birthday is the Saturday of Rhinebeck weekend. As it was this year, his birthday was on the Friday we left to drive down. Although he did say he would like to have a David Lynch Marathon weekend…hmmmm

Prep for Rhinebeck 2013

I figure I’ll have more success posting more often if I keep the posts short & photo heavy…or that’s the theory/delusion I’m working with.

Rhinebeck 2013 is fast approaching,  as of this typing – 6 days away! I am beyond thrilled with this impending short break from reality. It has been two years since I was last there & I had a blast, so the bar is set fairly high.

There are 8 of us who have rented a house in Hudson, New York. It’s roughly 30-40 (depending on your map) minutes North of Rhinebeck proper. Two of the house mates I haven’t seen since the last trip & 2 I have never met, but they come highly praised.

As time ticks closer to our departure, I’m working my way though the check list:

Passport is current.

Have actual grown-up luggage.

Completed Rhinebeck Sweater: Dressage from Twist Collective Yarn: Malabrigo Mecha in Solis colourway.


Since taking this photo, I have ripped back the i-cord bind-off & added 3″ of rib as I kept feeling like the sweater was hikking up my backside.

Still to get:


Hendricks Gin (will pick up at the Duty Free on way down) – Gin & Tonic has become the unofficial drink of whatever house we are staying at for Rhinebeck.

Finally narrow down my shopping list to keep to my budget.

Research the requirements for transporting a sheep across the border… Have already promised my car mates that I will not buy a sheep (or as I like to call them: Proto Sweaters) to bring home (although I am not new to transporting sheep in cars) but I will be looking at sheep for my future plan to sell up in the city, buy a plot of land, have a Hobbit Hole/cob house built and to keep a spinners flock & some chickens (I shall name them ALL Lola!). Other than the Hobbit Hole, my Dad is on board with my idea, the kids are all over this plan. Chris & my Mum think I’m a bit daft, but that’s really just par for the course.

What on Earth happened to my Summer?!

My last post (as my Mum reminds me) was in late May, I was gearing up for the end of school followed by eight long weeks with my beloved children. It’s almost like I went to bed one night & woke up to discover 4 months had flown by and now I’ve got a whole lot to catch you up on.

The Summer was lovely, we played & adventured around the city and I went on quite the crafting jag.

Annoyed with the current offerings in the clothes stores, I dusted off my sewing machine, made seven dresses for myself and one for Abi.

035  BLnVbZ3CIAA643D BLchLgoCEAAf1ik BO2tR_MCMAATVio BQbUhAcCcAArONM 1140 1090

I added two more tattoos to my body, due to their placement, I will not post photos, but will link to the inspiration. Since someone always asks, I currently have 10 tattoos, yes I said “currently” because I will more than likely add more over time. No, my tattoos do not signify a mental or moral failing, I just happen to like permanently decorating my body & only a very select few know where & what I have tattooed on me. The majority of the work I have are adapted from Iron Age La Tene culture designs.

This Summer was also filled with music, I have attended more concerts in the past few months than I have been to in the past 10 years. Starting with The Breeders, followed by TREE Fest with The Lowest of the Low & Flogging Molly, then there was RIOT Fest where I watched Iggy Pop flail around on stage. The last concert was Dropkick Murphys with The Mahones. Fellow Mum Leah was my companion for all of them & we had good times! I had forgotten how much I loved seeing bands live, but also discovered I really don’t care for crowds and have even less patience for drunk girls with no sense of personal space. Leah & I tended to leave before someone (not us) was going to get punched (by us, okay me!).

There was a lot of cooking with the kids, we made doughnuts, Onigiri, stained glass eggs and tonnes of other stuff. We had plans to do some preserving, but just never got around to it.

BPzjNVcCIAA0_90  BPeJqtvCAAA72f7  BPeOMhWCUAAax3z

Knitting also occurred. I knit a lot of shawls and started a sweater, they will have their own post…

BM_AsdxCUAAv_ZC  BMqm8C5CIAEVMvz BLyhYN8CYAIJ6yH 1147 1157

Now we are on to Fall and all the busy-ness of 3 birthdays in 6 weeks, Rhinebeck and getting people back into a groove!