Tuesday, April 28, 2015

See you next week!

When the cleaning/ purging/ organizing bug hits, you must embrace it and let it take over your life. It started at the end of last week and included my husband donating a carload of stuff Sunday afternoon.     I thought it had passed but after getting rid of a desk that only held stuff and wasn't really being used, I was left with all that stuff to put ...somewhere. My big table, and now my only work surface, is covered in books, yarn, patterns, lots of loose paper and all the other bits a desk drawer holds. We are happy about the extra space but it's going to take me all week to dig my way out of the clutter. 

There is a table under there, somewhere. I pulled things out from under the table to reorganize everything.

The quilt is still under the needle of the sewing machine but it's covered in stuff. The two empty bins are from my daughter's room. She also got in the purging mood this weekend.

I took this picture earlier this afternoon and it already looks better than this. But this should keep me busy for the rest of the week so I won't be blogging. I'm not doing much crafting anyway. I might pop in with a what I read this month post later this week or it might wait until next week. 
Have you been bitten by the Spring cleaning bug this year? Or perhaps this is just a case of severe procrastination.

Friday, April 24, 2015

2 Finishes for Friday

Thanks to Floyd having an early nap on Wednesday, I was able to block my Sun Rose sweater and Passerine scarf without any toddler help. I am in love with both.

This sweater came out so soft. I made all the kids feel how soft it was after washing. I tried it on before blocking and was a little worried about the length of the body and the tightness of the arms. Luckily they stretched just enough that I am incredibly happy with the whole sweater. I'm also happy for the cold snap we are having this week that has allowed me to wear the sweater today (and loving it!). My husband says it makes me look like a grown-up with my brown pants. I suggested changing into my jeans with the ripped knees and he thought that might help. But looking like a grown-up is ok sometimes.

My only issue with the sweater was the neckline. I had to cast on stitches at the front neck after working the back and shoulders, which I haven't done too often. And it shows. The stitches were too loose and hung over. 

Somewhere, I'm not sure where, I had read about another knitter using crochet to tighten up loose knitting. I went around the whole neck opening with slip stitches. At the front I decreased by doing 2 stitches together in 4 or 5 different spots. I stretched it out every few stitches to make sure it looked good. I am very happy with the result and it has held up after blocking. It adds an extra texture/ design to the sweater. 
The only real modification I did with the pattern was adding length in the arms. The pattern calls for 3/4 length sleeves but I wanted long sleeves so I added some extra rows. If you're interested, you can read my mods on my ravelry project page.

It took me a week to knit the Passerine stole/ scarf but over a week to block it. I loved knitting this pattern and want to do it again. It is knit on the bias, which is more interesting than knitting one long piece. I've searched for more scarves knit this way on ravelry and hope to cast some on with other special skeins of yarn in my stash. This yarn was from my mom for Christmas 2 years ago and was a special colourway made for the local yarn store called Nipissing Sunset. I've been waiting for just the right project and I think this was it. It's very soft and feels great wrapped around my neck. It's long enough to go around twice for extra warmth.

See, it's long. My guess is that it is around 70 inches. Pattern calls for 76 inches finished. I was pretty close considering I ran out of yarn and didn't do 4 of the pattern repeats.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I painted some rocks

Last week I took some rocks...

... and some paint...

...and painted them.

This little one might be my favourite.

I really like this one too since the rock "stands" up.

Something  I learned is that you can't wipe paint off rocks. You either live with it, try to make the mistake part of the painting or paint over it. The rock that ended up being an eye was painted three times. And you don't need a lot of paint to paint rocks.
I think there may be more painted rock posts in the future. My kids really want to do it, too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Plans for this week

I'm sure there are a ton of things I should be doing this week but this is what I'm actually going to be doing.
Blocking my finished Passerine stole/scarf and finished Sun Rose sweater. The weather is supposed to be chilly this week so it would be great if I could use them before it gets hot.

Make more progress on the Sierra scarf. I've done 3 pattern repeats so far and still like it.

Saturday morning I started a pair of Frankensocks - socks made from leftovers. I'm doing toe-up since I don't know when I'll run out of yarn. I should be able to finish the first one this week and start the second.

I was able to take it with me to my son's soccer game Saturday afternoon. My husband thought I was crazy for taking this picture.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here are some of the interesting things I found on the internet this week. Enjoy.

I didn't even know about this until the article about the answer. Her birthday seems obvious... now.

Want to make something for Mother's Day? Here's a list of tutorials that might help.

I just picked this book up from the library yesterday after reading this review. I also borrowed Stephen King's 11/22/63. Two Kennedy themed novels? Kind of excited to read them.

I have a lot of empty spools. This pinterest board has some great spool crafts. Haven't decided what I'm going to do with all my spools yet.

And here are some of the things I pinned this week on pinterest.

I love this blanket by Tin Can Knits.

I've been looking for a good felted knitted slipper pattern and found this one and this one.

And like every girl who loved reading "Anne of Green Gables" and wanted to marry Gilbert, I was very sad to hear that Jonathan Crombie passed away. I had always hoped that they would redo the third movie - which doesn't follow the books at all, their sons fought in WWI not Gilbert - but now I guess we can never revisit Anne and Gilbert. I think I'll be reserving the movies from the library and rewatching them very soon. I can remember one summer when I was a kid, my sister was frustrated with me that I was watching "Anne of Green Gables" yet again and commented that I could probably watch it with the sound off and my back to the tv and would still say all the lines at the right time. And she was probably right.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Finished Pair of Socks #6

Finished a month early for my SIL's birthday next month, my sixth pair of knitted socks for 2015 are complete. I've had the yarn for years and knew it would become socks but never got around to it. Glad these are going to my SIL. They are so soft and comfy. The yarn is from Knit Picks and can be found here - Make Believe.
Now let's enjoy looking at them. 

This picture probably shows the colour of the yarn the best. Purple is almost an impossible colour to take a good picture of. I wore these socks all over the house trying to find the right lighting for them.
Love them. Amazingly, I haven't cast on my 7th pair, yet. Maybe this weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mother-Daughter Book Club

With the kids home and husband out of town last week, I didn't get much done. One thing that did happen though, was our first mother-daughter book club. My daughter, Calliope, was looking for something to read and we were looking on the library website for ideas when "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret" came up. I knew it was a classic but I had never read it and neither had she. We decided that we'd both read it and then talk about it. 

Our book club meeting. 2 teas and the book. 

A very short read (took us each a day to read it). We both enjoyed it. I wasn't sure what to expect as our family is of "no religion" but we were both pleased with how religion was dealt with in the book. Calliope said Margaret's conversations with God were kind of like diary entries. She thought some of the things the girls did were a little silly and couldn't believe girls would do that. All I could think of was all the silly things my friends and I did when we were young. I guess my daughter is more mature than I was :) I was happy when Calliope said, her and her friends don't talk about other girls the way Margaret and her friends do.  I asked her if it she wanted to do what Margaret did and go to different churches to see what they were like and she said no. Overall, we both recommend the book and think it was a great first selection for our book club. I wish I had read it when I was her age (she turns 13 in less than 2 months) and glad that we got to read it together. We plan on reading more books together and hope at our next meeting, her brothers will leave us alone.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Around the Web With a Cup of Tea

Here are some of the interesting things I found no the internet this week. Enjoy.

I think I might need a pair of these pajama bottoms.

I probably eat enough popcorn to justify buying this.

An interesting look at the drought in California, water restrictions and crops. Turns out almonds aren't so bad.

I remember doing a project on Brontosaurus' in Grade 3 so this made me happy.

Another knitting book I might have to get.

And here are some of things I pinned this week on pinterest.

Fell in love with this scarf

And cowl designed by the same person.

Need to find some rocks to do this.

Love how off-centred this quilt is.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Week's Worth of Knitting

This week has been lacking in me time. I haven't done much knitting during the day but when I do, I have been working on the socks for my SIL. I'm about an inch away from starting the toe of the second sock. I should be able to finish them up this weekend. My evening knitting has been the Passerine scarf/stole. The yarn I'm using only had 5 more yards than the recommended amount so I knew it would be tight. There is no way I'll be able to do all 16 repeats of Chart C, but I think I'll get 10. I think the length will still be good as at the half way point it measured over half the finished length. The width is right and I wouldn't want it any thinner.

Aren't the yarn and the pattern lovely?

Here it is halfway. Stretched out it is 2 full couch cushions. I've done one more repeat since then and it added another 6-7 inches. I added a life line in case I run out of yarn and have to go back. Fingers are crossed that it works out.

Yarn left at halfway. Definitely not enough. Colour of yarn is best in this picture. Hope to finish it this weekend as well and get it blocked next week. Hopefully, I'll be able to share it here next Friday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Little Bit of This and That

It's been a long week here. Made even longer with my husband out of town and the older kids home for Spring break. I haven't done a lot of anything but little bits of a bunch of different stuff for the past week or so. Here's some of what I've been up to.

My friend and I finished a series of yoga classes at the end of February. The last class was a restoration class full of relaxing poses. One of the props we used were called Hand Hearts (I think, I can't find them on the internet). They sit in the palm of your hand and neither of us thought they'd make a big difference but we both really enjoyed using them. I set about making us each a pair after that. Above is the pair I gave to my friend almost a month ago. They are filled with rice and can be put in the microwave and heated to be used as hand warmers if needed.

Mine have been waiting to be finished, just needed the rice and to be sewn shut for weeks. Finally finished them today. I look forward to using them the next time I get a chance to do yoga - did I mention all three kids are here, all day, this week and it's supposed to rain everyday? My hearts aren't perfect but they get the job done.

I also bought some yarn. This will be Floyd's Christmas sweater and I think I will be doing this pattern. I had leftover credit at the Loopy Ewe from last year that I had to spend by the end of April or I'd lose it. The yarn cost me less than $10 (including shipping). I used the same yarn (different colour) for Floyd's Owlet sweater and I like how it's held up.

I actually got some writing done some time last week. I have no idea what day this was but the weather was beautiful. Floyd was napping so I was stuck inside but at least I got to look at it.

This weekend, my older son was looking at a knitting book I have out from the library and expressed interest in learning how to knit. He did pretty good...

... until I turned on the tv and even though he had no interest in the program (hockey game) he couldn't help but watch and messed up and it ended up in tears. (I didn't even yell or get frustrated with him.) I hope he'll try again since he picked it up pretty quickly. Next time, no tv.

And I finally have my Made in Cherry quilt under the needle. This is going to be a beast to quilt. Trying to stay positive and do it in chunks. And when I'm in a good mood. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here are some of the  interesting things I found on the internet this week. Enjoy.

I just requested this book from the library.

An article on what's wrong with parenting today. And one way to fix it.

April is poetry month and the CBC has a bunch of different articles to read. There's also a contest.

The Yarn Harlot met an Astronaut! And made him hold some knitting.

As a mom, I like this idea. As a wife of man who is employed by universities, I worry.

Different ways to make yarn? Sure. Learning to spin is on my to-do list once Floyd is older and stops getting into all my stuff.

I think Floyd would enjoy this.

I guess I come from a creative family. My sister quilts and my brother is a painter. I think we should thank our parents for encouraging us and letting all three of us be creative as kids. Thanks mom and dad.

And here are some of the things I've pinned on pinterest this week.

A crocheted basket.

Some beautifully knitted fingerless mitts.

And I might need some yarn to make these socks in time for Halloween.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Knits in Progress

I'm not sure what happened to this week. I guess I read on Monday, caught up on sleep on Tuesday, talked to my now retired mom in the middle of the day for 90 minutes on Wednesday and yesterday I finished a sock. The picture above was taken Tuesday or Wednesday and best shows the colour of the yarn.

Finished sock. Once finished, the pair will be mailed to my sister-in-law. 

I'm calling them my do-over socks because I love the yarn and want a pair for myself. And I keep messing them up and starting over. I started them on size 3 needles with 56 stitches but after a few rounds it was obviously too tight. Frogged it and cast on 64 stitches. Knit the cuff and an inch or so of the leg and decided it wasn't tight enough. Frogged again. Switched to size 2 needles, with 64 stitches and was happy.

After finishing the first sock last night, I cast on the second. I was almost done the cuff when I realized I had cast on 56 instead of 64 stitches. Frogged and cast on again with the right number of stitches. I'm hoping there are no more problems and no more do-overs. 

I thought I was just going to work on the sock all weekend, until Jen released a new pattern today. 

I decided to finally wind yarn my mom gave me for Christmas in 2013, called Nipissing Sunset, this morning. A limited edition made just for the LYS. I've been waiting for just the right project. 

All caked up and ready to go.

Here it is with the pattern.

Already done chart A and halfway done chart B. Think it will be a nice, light, spring scarf once finished.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I read in March

This month makes up for my short what I read posts in January and February. I read some really great books in March. A good mix of fiction and non-fiction. There's a gap on the library shelf that needs to be filled now.

First up is the 2014 Poet's Market which I debated posting, but I spent several days reading it. I read all the educational/ how-to's at the beginning except for the ones that didn't apply to me (being a book publisher and running my own zine) and I looked at every listing - magazine/ journals, contests and workshops/retreats and only skipped the book publishing listings. It was full of great advice and markets I would never be able to find on my own. I'm still pretty focused on editing my novel and haven't spent much time polishing poems but I think once I am done my current round of editing, I'll take a break and work on poetry. I think it will be a nice change of pace after editing fiction.

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy by Sarah Lazarovic
My husband saw this on the new bookshelf and thought I might enjoy it. Or maybe wanted to hint at something? It was a quick read (only took an evening) and was about the author changing her buying habits, specifically clothes shopping. I don't really have that kind of shopping habit but I understood what she was trying to say.

I think every page had an illustration which is why it is such a quick read. This was my favourite page. 

Ru by Kim Thuy
The great book competition, Canada Reads happens in March. When the books that were going to be debated were announced, Ru was the only one at my local library so it was the only one I read. And it ended up winning! It is beautifully written. Short "chapters", often one page that read more like poetry than fiction. The book is about a woman who moves to Canada from Vietnam when she's a girl. It jumps back and forth between Canada, Vietnam and her family's time in a refuge camp before going to Canada. Again, this is a quick read, I think it's around 150 pages. Definitely recommend it.

The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber
I liked a lot of the ideas expressed in this book and want to start doing some of them with our kids. One idea is that every child gets an allowance which isn't based on chores. Allowance should then be divided into money they get to spend, money to save and money to give to charity. I love this idea. They get to decide the charity but we help them research and give to different charities - not just ones where they get a perk for donating. I talked to my daughter about this and she liked the idea, too. Haven't talked to my older son but I think he'd be okay with it. I love the idea that they don't get paid for chores. The argument being, my husband and I don't get paid for the chores we do around the house, so why should they? Everyone helps because it's the right thing to do, which is a great lesson to learn. The allowance is given to educate them how to use money and gives them freedom to buy what they want. Then they find out what happens when that money is gone and they find something else they really want. I'd like to do this for 6 months or so and see what the kids think after that. Will they learn anything about money?

How To Be A Heroine by Samantha Ellis
An interesting read. The author, in her 30's looks back at the books she read growing up. And feale heroines she idolized, were they really who she should be like? It was also part memoir as she talked about growing up and moving out, her parents divorcing and creating a life for herself as a playwright. I had read at least half of the books she talked about and had seen the movie for some (which is obviously different but still helped) so there were only a couple characters I wasn't familiar with. However, that didn't really matter. Each chapter talked about a lot of books and made me want to go back and read some of the books from when I was younger. I think I need to reread L.M. Montgomery's Emily series.

Here are the female characters she discussed. Notice the bibliography is 7 pages long - she discusses a LOT of books.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
I love Jeanette and own several of her books, but she is not for everyone. This book takes place in England after James I took the throne and witch hunts were going on. It is essentially the story of two women; one who sells her soul to the devil for power and the other who refuses but still has powers. She does not call herself a witch. I enjoyed it but I didn't read this book before bed as there is a lot of torture described in the book and I really didn't want to be thinking about that as I was falling asleep. Anyone who doesn't want to read about torture, and some of it is nasty, or is uncomfortable with the main character having sex with both a man and a woman (at different times), might want to skip this book. I'd still recommend it, especially if you've read some of Jeanette's other work and have enjoyed them.

May I Be Happy by Cyndi Lee
Some of you may know Cyndi Lee, as she is a fairly famous yoga teacher. This book deals with her own body issues, growing older, her dying mother and her failing marriage. It also looks back at her life to figure out how she got to where she is. She hates her body and wants to get over that feeling but struggles. There were times when I got a little sick of her complaining. I don't hate my body like she does. There are definitely parts I'm not thrilled with but this body gave me 3 children so I think I owe it now. She does come to a place of not hating by the end and seems to be in a good place. One of the times I was getting frustrated with her complaining, I thought, I might not hate my body, but there are things about myself that I hate and I can think about them and how Cyndi's journey to get over the hate could help me. I wouldn't say this was a life changing read but it gave me stuff to think about it. 

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
The best for last. I read this on Monday, staying up until almost 1am to finish it. I loved it. And I love starting a book in the morning and reading the whole thing - just losing myself in it for the day.  When I first started thinking what I was going to say about this book, my thoughts almost turned into an essay about what I liked and how it worked to be something amazing but now that the computer is on my lap... I kind want to say, just go read it yourself. I was a little concerned at the beginning with 4 names in the title that I would be balancing 4 different narratives in my brain but that doesn't happen. They each have unique stories but are connected. Etta is 83 at the beginning and decides to walk to the Atlantic ocean from her home in Saskatchewan. Otto is her husband and Russell is their neighbor and friend. James is... you have to read it to find out. The book goes back and forth between Etta's walking and what Otto and Russell do while she's gone, and their childhood's and how they all ended up being friends/ married. It kind of reminded me of The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields that deal with elderly women looking back on their lives but this is different. Etta's not looking back. She's going forward. She's leaving because it's her turn to go and it's all very powerful. The ending is perfect and if you read the book and don't like it, don't tell me. I think I'm going to buy myself a copy so I can reread it whenever I want. Maybe I'll read it slowly next time to properly devour it. 

Her description of Ontario, "Rocks, lakes, trees. Rocks, lakes, trees." made me homesick.

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