Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

So, how was everyone's holidays? Right now, we're in Ottawa, enjoying time with Jamie's family. Andrew's been having a ball with his grandparents, and uncles & aunties. Since he's nice and occupied most of the time, I'm going to use this opportunity to update the blog a little. I've got a few FOs to talk about, so let's get to it!

Pattern: Mary Jane Booties by Sublime Yarns
Yarn: Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK
Needles: US4

I made these for my friend Becky's new daughter. These were pretty fun to make, and I really wanted to make some cute baby booties at some point in time, but those aren't really on the menu for Andrew. Again, the pattern wasn't very well written, but worked out pretty well in the end.

Next up is a little something for myself.
Pattern: Angee Socks from Sock Innovation by Cookie A.
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM
Needles: US2

I've been working on these for a while - just over a whole year! I finished the first pretty quickly, and then fell victim to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. This pair was finished on the ride up to Ottawa. Cookie A. always seems to have fun patterns, and Angee was no exception. I made a mistake and increased the heel every row instead of every other row, but it actually made for a really good fit. The socks are SO comfortable, and really reminded me why I love hand-knit socks.

I also got some crafty stuff from Jamie's siblings for Christmas, and I can't wait to make some of the projects!

This trip to Ottawa has been really productive from a crafter's point of view. For Boxing Day, we popped into a Michaels, and I managed to procure some new yarn.
This was a real steal for less than $8.99 a skein. There's over 450m in one of those suckers! I originally picked up 3; the sticker price was $12.99 and didn't feel like much of a savings. But then we went to pay, and I was surprised to see what they rung up. I even got 25% off the whole thing. So, I went back for 2 more skeins. I'm thinking of making a nice, cable sweater; still debating if the sweater should be for me, or for the hubby.

Hope everyone had a great holidays, and here's looking forward to an awesome 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our little aviator

Back in August, the three of us were in Picton attending Jamie's cousin's wedding. While there, I stumbled upon a wonderful little shop called the Rose Haven Farm Store. I could have easily spent a few hours in that store, but since we had a wedding to go to, I tried to keep my yarn ogling to a minimum. But that didn't mean I left empty handed. Knowing that winter would be hitting us before we could say 'in denial', it seemed like a good idea to make a hat for Andrew. We saw a cute little sample hat all knit up, and I decided that I'd make one for our little guy too. Fast forward to the end of November, and the hat was finally finished! I'm just slow at posting about stuff these days.

Pattern: Retro Flying Helmet by Sublime Yarns
Size: 6-12 months
Yarn: Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK (I forget the name of the colour now)
Needles: US6 for the stockinette, US4 for the seed stitch

This was a fun little knit. I kinda fiddled with the pattern a little though. The way it's written (and by the way, I have to say that I hated the way the pattern was written up - took a few read-through's in order to figure out just what they wanted me to do in certain sections), you knit each ear flap separately, knit the front flap, pile all the stitches from those sections on your needles and knit it all back and forth to make the body of the hat, then sew up the back seam. Well, I hate sewing seams, so I decided to knit the body of the hat in the round, and that seemed to work just fine. Seeing as I hate finishing, it bugged me a bit to have all sorts of ends to have to weave in, as well as sew the front flap down as it's purely decorative. Oh well.

I need to get over my dislike of finishing somehow - when it comes to knitting/crochet, it is truly the area where I am the least skilled. I've heard so many times that this is where your projects cross over from homemade to handmade, but I can't seem to make it over that hump. I often feel like everything I make still resides in the "homemade" category because of my lack of skill in finishing. Still, I know I've improved. Recently, I found the first pair of mittens I'd made; they were the Sacred & Profane mittens by Jillian Moreno. Oh boy, were those a mess in terms of finishing. You know that feeling you get where you stumble on an essay you wrote in, like, grade 6 that you thought was awesome at the time, but now realize had the same skill level as a monkey typing randomly at a typewriter? That's how I felt.

In any case, my model didn't seem to mind my lack of finishing skills.
The hat is still a touch too big for him, and the type of snowsuit we got him (which is so cute, I may have to post a photo of him in it here) already has a really nice hood built in. Still I may get him to use the hat a few times before the winter is through. It's not like he can say no yet anyway!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Every girl needs a little luxury

It's been a while since I blogged about an FO; knit-wise, I've been feeling really unproductive. I'm hoping to change that in the next couple months, but we'll see how things actually go. In any case, I do have one FO to talk about here, and two more saved up that I can talk about as soon as I get the photos off my camera.

Way, way back when, Adrienne and I took a trip to Romni Wool. By way back, I really do mean years ago. At that time, I bought myself a skein, just one because it was expensive, of Handmaiden 8-ply Cashmere. Lovely, lovely stuff. However, because it was only a single skein, there wasn't much I could make with it, and so it sat in my stash for a long time. I would go and admire it every so often, but it waited until I could figure out a project for it.

Fast forward to about 5 years later, and I finally came up with something! This project came about as I was finding the weather getting cooler as I would take my baby out for walks with me. On short jaunts around the neighbourhood, I often like to carry him in a front-pack carrier. As fall set in, I was finding my neck getting cold, yet unable to wear scarves as they would get in my baby's face as I carried him. My solution?

A small little neck warmer of my own design using a diagonal cluster lace stitch. Nothing fancy at all, but a nice little bit of luxury to keep me warm. I was a little short on the yardage, so I just added a little Noro Silk Garden to the end to finish things off; not the most elegant solution, I suppose, but it works for me. The alternating button colours worked so much better in my head, and I even liked the way it looked when I lay it out. But once they were sewn on and actually worn, I have to admit that I didn't really love it - I think it would look better if all the buttons were brown. Still, I started wearing it as the need for warmth was more pressing than my concern about button colour, and I soon became too lazy to change the buttons. I used it for a lot of autumn, but now that winter has set in, I'm back to my usual scarves.

On the same day that I finished that neck warmer, I also baked some goodies.
Cashmere and chocolate cupcakes - a winning combination. Well, unless you got the chocolate cupcakes all smeared in your cashmere, but I think you all know what I mean.

Up next: A little something for my little monkey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Belated Halloween post

We just put the Christmas tree up over here, and I'm finally getting around to my Halloween post. Yeesh. I need to be better about this! Oh! Speaking of holidays, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends (and friends living in America) out there.

Back to Halloween. Andrew's first was lots of fun, even though he probably had no idea it was any different than any other day. Thanks to some good friends of mine, he had an awesome costume that felt no different than a sleeper.

Our cute little astronaut, hanging out with a musical Frankenstein toy that was sent to us by his grandparents in Ottawa.
Look how chummy they are!

We took Andrew to the park to hang out with some other moms and babies. We put him down on the ground to take some photos, and he discovered all the wonderful leaves around him.
That photo was snapped mere milliseconds before he shoved those leaves in his mouth. I'm getting used to the fact that discovering things for him automatically means shoving them in his mouth.

We didn't go out for Trick or Treating since he's too young to eat any candy, but we had fun anyway. Next year is definitely going to be lots of fun!

Next: An FO! Finally! Plus some yummy baked treats.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I love the library

The Toronto Public Library is one of my favourite things. I love books, even though I haven't had much time to read them lately; well, except baby related books. Anyone who has never been a parent will be flabbergasted at the number of books out there on every baby-related topic you can think of: potty training, sign language for babies, baby food, sleep training, general baby care. The list is really endless. Sorry, I digress. Back to the library.

Now that we've got a kid, and my income drastically cut while I'm on mat leave, I'm very conscious of the money we're spending. While I was wandering through Chapters one day, it hit me that, for the same distance from my house to the Chapters, I could go to a local library. Why hadn't I thought of it sooner?!

Behold what knitterly goodies that can be found at the library!
These were books that I just found in the library at random, and all books that I had been curious about. I got to flip through, find out if I really liked the majority of the patterns or not, and then figure out if it'd be something I'd want to invest in. I also found these:
I was really happy to find these two because I've been thinking about how to get over second sock syndrome. I mostly wanted to learn the technique, rather than having more sock patterns, so the library was the perfect solution! I had to put a hold on the toe-up sock book, but that just made me realize how much I loved the library. If they don't have the book you're looking for, they'll get it for you, and all for free!

One more thing that I love about the library? They have wonderful programs for moms and babies. Andrew and I really enjoyed Babytime, and we're a little sad that it's over until January. You can bet we'll be lining up to sign up again. (Just a note for any T.O. parents who might be reading this - Runnymede library needs a sign up, but lots of other libraries don't. Check with your local one to be sure) We learned all sorts of kiddie rhymes and songs, and I continue to use them now to keep Andrew entertained at home. However, the babe was not always so amused.
That's Andrew sleeping through his very first session of Babytime. Haha!

Up next: Halloween! (Yeah, I know...Kinda late, but some of these photos are just too cute not to share)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Plugging away

I am finally going to post about something craft related!

Remember that blanket that Elaine and I were making that was still a WIP? Well, we continue to work on it. I've finished adding the crochet border to each square, and am now blocking them all so they can be joined together.

I had all these grand plans to block the whole whack of them, but ran into a serious bottle-neck: I didn't have enough pins. Of all things to hold you back! And plus it takes about 2 days for those puppies to dry completely. And so, I'm not finished the blocking process yet. Sigh. For once, it's not me that's slowing down the whole process.

Next post: Why I love, love, love, the Toronto Public Library.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Houston, we have a problem...

Actually, Houston doesn't have a problem. I do. A serious one.


Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. Yet another bag. It arrived in the mail from Mamabargains yesterday. The first time they went up on sale, I felt the tug. I couldn't believe how cute the bags were (there's a whole animal series). I wanted more than one, that's how cute I found them. And then I told myself, "No, you've got lots of perfectly good bags, among them is a perfectly great diaper bag." And so, I resisted and didn't buy one. Then, the bags sold out and the site moved on to the next deal, and I felt this huge pang of regret that I didn't buy one on the cheap when I had the chance. Despite how much I rationalized the fact that I really didn't need another bag, I couldn't help that gut feeling.

So, when the site featured them again, I couldn't help myself and ordered one. I had a really hard time deciding which one I wanted - I loved the elegance of the Peacock, the bold print of the Toucan, the clever use of frog closures on the Panda. In the end, I picked the Penguin. Cute won out in the end.

Like I said, I have a problem.

Also, you may have noticed a slight change in the look of the blog. What do you think? I've been playing around with the new templates that Blogger has available. I thought this one looked similar to our old style, just a little more refined. I've been surfing around looking at other free templates, but don't really want to change things here too radically yet. Don't worry, Adrienne; if you don't like this change, I have our old template saved and can reinstall it at any time. Just let me know :)

Coming soon: an actual crafty update. Really. I promise.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Where to even start?

So, it turns out that taking care of a baby is as busy as they all say it is even though all you seem to be doing is feeding it, changing its diaper, and trying to get it to sleep so you can get some sleep too. When the day is over, I often try to sum up everything that I've done, and I often can't think of much else. Little to no housework, minimal cooking, and laundry get sprinkled in there too. I think laundry is the one chore that I have been really keeping up with, mostly out of necessity. When you only have a few nursing bras, and find yourself leaking milk on a daily basis (oh, the things they don't tell you when you're pregnant), you get pretty good at doing a load here and there. Jamie, being the wonderful hubby that he is, looks after cleaning the kitty litter, vacuuming (I have allergies), mowing the lawn and tending to the garden, and taking out the trash. He even changes pretty much all of Andrew's diapers when he's home. What a guy :)

And before you know it, 4 months goes by. Yikes. How did we go from this:
to this:

Given that I used to work in research, I am simply not used to so much change so quickly. It boggles my mind sometimes.

While I finally have some craft related stuff to write about, I think I'm going to save it for another post. Some of the photos we've been taking are just too much fun not to share.

This was one of the first smiles we caught on camera when he was about 1.5 months old.

Since then, he hasn't stopped smiling.

Well, sometimes he stops smiling...

Things can get messy...

Things can be unexpected and puzzling...

And things can be incredibly heartwarming...
2010-09-02 Reading

All in all, I think our little family is doing just fine so far.

We'll keep working on it; the ultimate WIP.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yes, still alive

I'm sorry, I've been a seriously delinquent blogger, I haven't touched this space for ages! I don't even have any good excuses, such as being too busy travelling to exciting places, or making a whole new person. Ugh. I think the problem is that my knitting doesn't excite me so much anymore, so I'm not motivated to take pictures of it, and if I don't take pictures, then I also don't update Ravelry until much later, and I don't blog about it either. It's not that I don't enjoy the knitting, it's more that I'm not in awe of the finished objects anymore because it's very much been there, done that. I really don't feel the need to discuss every single pair of toe-up stockinette socks I knit, you know?

In any case, until I figure out what to do about that, here's a roundup of some of the things I've knit over the past little while:

Green Gable (on Ravelry)

Green Gable fixed_03

Pile-able Pups (on Ravelry)


Poppy (on Ravelry)

(Yay, the sleeves more or less match! As do both sides of the front! I don't think I'll be knitting another sweater out of Silk Garden anytime soon, worrying about getting the matching to work took too much out of me)

Poppy worn_13

Citron (on Ravelry)

Citron front black shirt closeup_01_cropped

Katrina Rib (on Ravelry)

Katrina Rib worn_06

I'm happy that I'm now able to knit sweaters for myself that more or less fit. I don't think that I have a sweater FO that I'm 100% delighted with, but everyone who knows me well will probably say that that's pretty much an impossible endeavour. It's enough that I'm at least willing to wear them out in public! My next sweater goal is to tackle a fingering-weight sweater, maybe a Featherweight Cardigan?

And now I'll probably have to elapse back into blog silence, because I have to get a start on my Christmas knitting. Who knows though, maybe I'll manage to sneak a little something in there for myself, too.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Does this count as an FO? Or is it more a WIP?

So, Jamie and I finally finished a project that we started 9 months ago. Or, maybe we've just started the biggest project of our lives that will forever be a WIP.

Say hello to Andrew Chang Jien (張健) Wells. Born at 5:09am on April 29 after a long early labour (over 24 hours), but fast active labour (just under 4 hours). He came just in time for me to avoid an induction; even avoided taking castor oil. He cost Daddy $5 in a bet based around his due date, but maybe that's just his way of punishing Dad for making a bet on him.

This is gonna be the best project ever.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Well, in answer to the lovely Alice's question that she left me in the last post, no baby yet but we're still waiting patiently. Sorta. Going for an ultrasound tomorrow, which will be officially 1 week overdue, just to make sure things are still okay. If things are starting to look risky, I could very well be induced right there. Yikes! While I've got my bag packed, I think I'm going to have to pack another bag of things to help pass the time, just in case. Also need to pack a variety of snacks; hubby's only got one type of granola bar packed, and I think I might want more of a variety. Guess we're coming down to the wire.

To pass the time this weekend, I made my first non-knit, non-crochet plushie since grade 7/8 sewing class.
In a conversation with Jamie, we thought it would be nice idea to make one of those for Baby. After all, what parent wouldn't want their kid to have an extra life stashed away somewhere just in case? I made it out of felt and sewed the whole thing by hand. No real pattern - just sketched out a 1-up mushroom, cut out pieces accordingly, and just gave it a go. I have to say that making these little guys is kinda addictive. Here are some photos so you can get a sense of scale, and see the front and back.

I've got some red felt as well, so Jamie and I were debating the merits of making a red mushroom too. I wasn't so sure about it; after all, wouldn't that be like wanting Baby to grow up in an instant? But Jamie pointed out that it would also mean that if Baby got dinged by anything, it wouldn't be an instant Game Over. Haha! What silly discussions we have. What do you all think?

In addition to making plushies, I did some baking this weekend too.
Honey Cranberry Cornmeal Quick Loaf, as suggested to me by my good friend Becky. I froze the whole lot of it so that I can eat it after Baby is born. Yum!

I've been really wanting to put in some serious time on that baby blanket for my friend Carolyn, but have hit an unfortunate road block. I'm finding that crocheting is seriously aggravating the usually mild, pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome that I've developed. Argh! I can get a border on about half a square before my right wrist feels like it's on fire. Somehow, knitting doesn't produce the same effects. Must be the way I hold my crochet hook. Sigh. I've only got about 7 squares done, there's still a whole whack to go, and the clock is a-ticking.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Things to pass the time

Baby is now officially 2 days overdue, which means that I am in need of things to do to pass the time while we wait. I know it sounds like I should be getting lots of knitting and crocheting done, but that hasn't been the case. For one thing, Jamie and I have been going on walks to see if we can get labour going. And these aren't just little walks either; they're 4 hour epics which render me quite tired by the end of it. Still, I'm not going to complain because I do get some nice contractions while we're walking. I'm happy that he's accompanying me on these treks since it can't be a picnic for him to do that much walking either. Sure, he's not carrying a watermelon around with him 24/7, but he rarely does that much walking in a day.

On one of these walks, we decided to go to High Park, which is not too far from where we live. It was a good thing we decided to do that because we were able to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
We'd been by that same way about 3 weeks prior, and there was nothing on the trees at all. I called my parents to let them know about it. They had recently gone to Japan in the hopes of catching some cherry blossoms there, but didn't have much luck. So, they were quite happy to see these ones.

Seeing these reminded me of cotton candy. Mmm...cotton candy...


And this is me playing with the macro mode on my camera. The flowers are quite pretty though.

Still with the idea of trying to keep the contractions coming, I decided that the more time I spend standing at home, the better. It's been the case that as long as I'm on my feet, I get more contractions. Since it's not that convenient to knit/crochet while standing, I've been baking. That might seem weird since I was diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance in my third trimester (which basically means I eat like a diabetic, but don't take insulin), but I enjoy it, so I decided to do it anyway.

I recently attempted a new recipe for double chocolate cookies that starts with cake mix. I usually don't use cake mix for anything, but it was sitting in the cupboard, so I just felt I should use it up. Plus it saved me from having to make a trip out to the grocery store to pick up missing ingredients. Having no experience with making cookies from cake mix, I wasn't sure how they'd turn out.

I'm guessing this is what I should have ended up with.

However, thanks to my idiocy, this is what I ended up with.
I really should have taken a picture when they'd just come out of the oven, before I separated them all. It was a solid sheet of cookie, and seriously looked pretty ridiculous.
I fail, really I do. Still, I sent Jamie to work with the lot of them, and from the sounds of it, they were quite popular. Lesson learned. Next time, I will make the cookies smaller, or put more space between them. Sigh.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Finally, some actual yarn-craft!

After the litany of posts about random things that weren't related to yarn, it's about time I posted something that WAS yarn-related.

Way back in 2007, I started a crochet ripple blanket, and even blogged about it (here's the entry). Well, that blanket never got done. I made more progress on it, but it was just turning out to be...well...really wonky. Being an inexperienced crocheter, I kept adding stitches, losing stitches, miscounting stitches; you get the idea. The blanket was misshapen and malformed. So, I decided to frog it, and try my hand at something that should eventually net me a blanket.
Granny squares.

I have to say, those little squares have been pretty fun to make. Kinda addictive. I think they'd be even more addictive if the yarn I was using didn't split so easily. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino is wonderful to the touch though, so I really can't say I dislike it.

However, that project is currently on hold for a bit. A while back, my friend Elaine and I embarked on a mission to design and make our friend Carolyn a blanket for her baby. We scoured through Stichonaries, and yarn samples to work things out - I gotta say that it was a pretty fun process. Being a joint effort, we each got an assortment of squares we were to knit. Here's an example of one of mine.

Recently, Elaine and I met up to discuss how we were going to piece the whole sucker together.
There's all the squares laid out on my dining table. We decided to border each square with single crochet in white, and then join the squares using a reverse single crochet that will create a bit of a bump that would resemble an i-cord (also in white). In addition to that, the whole thing is going to get a seed stitch border in navy blue.

Sounds great and all, except we're kinda late on this project. Carolyn had her baby back in November. Heh heh. Oh well. The blanket is big enough that they'll still get use out of it when we do finish it. I'm hoping I make good headway on it before my own baby comes. I've finished putting the border on 4 squares, but as you can tell, there's a whole whack more to go.

Speaking of babies, someone has to tell my cat that he's not going to be the baby of the household for much longer.
Kitty, just 'cuz you're in the portable crib, that doesn't make you the baby. Sigh. We're really going to have to watch him. At 18lbs, he's going to outweigh Baby for a while to come.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April is tax season

You know that phrase, "No rest for the weary"? As I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy, I get the feeling that phrase will take on more and more meaning. I just finished my last day of work on Friday, and what do I do on my first day off? I do my taxes. Hahahahahaha....ahh....yeah. Taxes. It hasn't been a fun process, but I think I'm just about there. Just need to decide if it's better to transfer some tax credits to the hubby or if I should keep them on my return.

As a reward for all the slogging through T4's, capital losses, and other tax credits, I thought I'd post about fun things.

For those of you who have been following this blog, you'll know that I have a weakness for bags. A BIG one.
Yup, it's another Lexie Barnes bag - it's the Darling in Kiri. I got it off this amazing site called Mamabargains. It was 53% off retail, and since I needed a diaper bag anyway, I figured, "Why not?". It's got these neat clips on them that will allow me to attach it to my stroller. Came with a diaper change pad too. I think it's going to be great for toting all the baby gear that inevitably will have to be carted around.

In the very same photo of the Darling is something else that is fun. Kitties! So let's see some more of them!
Lounging in the sun is great.

"Huh? Wake up? What do you mean?"

"Meh. I don't care if I'm starting to look like a turkey."

Nothing beats a comfy chair.

Bags and cats. I feel better already.