Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Week Between

To me, this is kind of the breathing space between holiday chaos. T-Man is working at home for 3 days and gets tomorrow off again. We need to go grocery shopping because the cupboards are bare! We’ve been staying as far away from the shops as we can get over the last few weeks but can’t hold out forever. Maybe if we go early enough on Friday morning we’ll avoid the crowds.

Christmas was lovely especially with all the little kids around. Nephew and Niece-in-law hosted the thundering hordes for The Feast and there were lots of willing hands to help. Especially her poor mom (voluntarily assisted by my Québécoise sis-in-law) who did a fantastic job in the kitchen. Their new house has lots of room to spread out and a plethora of toys to amuse the little ones. I’m sure it took them awhile to recuperate afterwards however!

The gift situation has mellowed a lot in the last few years. I flatter myself that I’ve had some influence in concentrating on the children and perhaps one’s immediate family rather than trying to lavish on every single relative. The kids were indulged and everyone seemed happy. Moving right along. It’s Stargazer’s fifth birthday today and I have no idea what he might want that he doesn’t already have. I have a few days’ reprieve before we see them to come up with something. At least his parents have finally started celebrating his birthday when it really is – instead of in June (half-birthday) or in conjunction with his big sister (August). He’s old enough now that he has opinions on it for himself. Happy Birthday, Stargazer!

So what have I been up to – besides holiday indulgences? I finished my jacket!

Minoru Jacket

For:  me

Completed:  December 27, 2011

Pattern:  Sewaholic 1103 Minoru Jacket

Fabric:  100% polyester water-resistant mini-check, black, 60” wide/2.2M.
Lining:  100% cotton batik, blues, 54” wide/1.5M.
Interfacing:  medium-weight fusible, 1M.
Notions:  30” separating zipper, black; 18” zipper, black; 2”-wide elastic, 2M (had about 30” left); polyester sewing thread, black.

Comments:  For a change I only needed a couple of simple adjustments to this pattern. I used size 14 but went to a 16 at the waist. I also needed to chop 3” off the sleeve and tapered to a size 10 at the cuff. I used the elastic measurements for a 16 (waist) and 10 (cuff) to match. Otherwise it fits very well although there isn’t a lot of room for layers underneath. Being fully lined, it’s pretty warm by itself and the outer fabric cuts the wind completely.

The instructions were pretty good except for a couple of missing seam allowance numbers (note: typos!) and a few things that could use more detail. I was a little confused about what to do with the top of the zipper tape to make the transition smooth at the corners. Plus I’m pretty sure I didn’t use the right seam allowance for the slightly wonky zipper and the lower hem was more like 3” than the stated 2” before turning down the top fold. It will be interesting to see Tasia’s sewing process step-by-step during her sew-along starting in a couple of weeks.

This was really a lot of sewing! It took 2 sessions to get the pattern traced, 2 sessions to cut out the fabrics and interfacing and 4 sessions to sew it together. A session is anywhere from 3 to 5 hours and is as long as I can work without getting tired and starting to make mistakes. I went slowly and carefully on purpose and the completed jacket looks good but unfortunately not perfect at close inspection. I definitely like how it looks on me though so it was worth all the work. I haven’t been able to find anything comparable in the stores at any price. Total cost: ~$60.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Season’s Greetings!

Yeah, I know there’s been some backlash against that phrase but at least this way one can cover all the myriad bases. I live in a city that is a complete cultural, religious and ethnic mish-mash. The only way for everyone to get along is to learn tolerance and appreciation of our differences. So many celebrations happen in this time of the year and whether it’s Diwali, Chanukah, Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Saturnalia or Sadeh, they’re mostly based on lighting up the darkness and good triumphing over evil. Works for me.

So I wish you all Peace, Joy and Happiness – whatever you celebrate this season! Big hugs from the denizens of Damselfly’s Pond.


We’re off shortly to a fondue at my brother-in-law’s for Christmas Eve and tomorrow is the Big Turkey-Fest at our nephew’s. And then…peace. At least until New Year’s! Maybe I’ll even get my jacket finished someday soon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making Christmas

OK, it wasn’t actually Christmas but close enough. I spent rather a frantic day yesterday getting ready for our Solstice Dinner at Milady Daughter’s. I made chocolate bark with almonds and craisins, shortbread cookies, a large green salad, and 8 greeting cards, plus wrapped 5 sets of little jammies. I cleaned up the kitchen. Twice. And I managed to get it all done by 4pm. I was going to take photos but ran out of time and light. And energy.

Of course that wasn’t nearly as frantic as Milady Daughter’s day. She somehow managed a yummy turkey dinner with all the trimmings! She rushed home from work at lunchtime just to get the turkey in the oven and rush back to work. Their nanny helped out during the day with some of the housekeeping and prep which was a blessing – along with looking after Rosebud. And I supplied the green salad, cookies and chocolate while Nana supplied the dessert. T-Man supplied the wine and the kids supplied the entertainment.

And they were very entertaining too. Super-Princess really got into the Disney karaoke while her brother learned how to go bowling with the Wii. Super-Princess gave her little cousin Rosebud the gift of a cool jewelled necklace she made for her which was very well received. Presents and cards were exchanged and the Grandbeasties even liked their jammies which they promptly tried on. Perfect fit for all. Yay.

We had such a good time that we didn’t get home until after 11pm which for us is kind of like 1am for most people. Today I have a migraine. Bleh. But it was lovely to spend time with our kids, grandkids and of course, T-Man’s mom. She’s the last of our parents so that was 4 generations together for our Winter Solstice celebration. Now on to the actual Christmas at our nephew’s and then, ummm…we kind of slipped and said we’d host New Year’s Day at our house. Yikes! What were we thinking? Must have been all those Holiday Peace and Love fumes, huh? Don’t think that’s what caused the migraine though.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcome Back, Sun!

I got to see quite a lot of sun yesterday too because it was glorious and clear all day. Forecast has it as a repeat today as well. Lovely!

I was glad it was nice (if a little frosty) since I had to walk up to the dentist for a cleaning yesterday morning. I did my Christmas shopping. Quit laughing, you lot! Yes, I broke down and bought new jammies for the Grandbeasties and their two littlest cousins. I couldn’t help myself. They were cute. And on sale. Now of course I have to wrap them. I also have to bake shortbread, make a salad and 7 greeting cards. Today. Tonight is our Winter Solstice Dinner at Milady Daughter’s.

The best part of yesterday though was the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. This was the first time in years that we’ve been able to go. Either the weather is awful or we’re having our annual dinner on the same day as the festival. We were lucky this time. T-Man and I had a quick supper, dressed warmly and walked down to Leg-In-Boot Square on False Creek, one of a number of meeting points. From there, at 6pm or so the crowd split with some going to the new Creekside Community Centre and the rest parading to Granville Island. We decided to go in the latter direction even though it was farther away from home. Unfortunately we hadn’t built lanterns this time and our old ones were toast so we just stuck T’s bicycle lights on us, T’s on his hat and mine on my purse, and set them to blinking mode. Better than nothing! Next year we’ll probably make elaborate lanterns and it’ll rain or something.

Along with the rest of the crowd, we followed the big lanterns and drummers along the seawall. It was a slow walk – at least for us! Other groups joined in along the way and we finally ended up near Performance Works on Granville Island. Here we were entertained by the Vancouver Morris Men, the Carnival Band and the Vancouver Fire Collective. The latter did a spectacular fire dance on the hill at Ron Basford Park, complete with dancing dragon and a fiery rising sun. It was lovely! It was chilly but we kept ourselves warm with a tot of the brandy we’d wisely brought along.

Both Performance Works and the False Creek Community Centre were open with stories, songs and dances going on inside. But instead of heading indoors when the outside entertainment was done, we headed home satisfied that we’d welcomed the sun back properly. (Besides, 5:30am comes awfully early!) This is my favourite holiday event and I was really glad we could participate this year. Then it was a long dark walk home, especially for me after all the walking I’d already done, but we made it. Walking is warmer and just as quick as waiting for a bus anyhow.

Sorry I didn’t take any photos. First it was dark. Second it was crowded. And third I just wanted to enjoy and not worry about getting good shots. Use your imagination. Or better yet, have your own Winter Solstice celebrations! It really has nothing to do with faith or religion. It’s an actual scientific phenomenon.

Guess I’d better get busy on my chores. Time flies much too quickly. And I would like to get to a little sewing sometime today. But it’ll probably have to wait till tomorrow. I’m at the point where I have to put the lining in my jacket. Exciting!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Year-End Review


Since it’s nearly Winter Solstice (for us it’s tomorrow night, Dec. 21 at 9:30pm PST) which is my idea of the true end of the year and beginning of the next, I’m going to list what I’ve accomplished this year.

Today I got out my notebook where I record my craft projects.

I spun:

  • 1000 yds of 2/ply worsted weight yarn

I knit:

  • 12 pairs of socks/slippers
  • 2 pairs boot buffers
  • 3 pairs of mitts/gloves
  • 7 scarves/shawls/cowls
  • 6 sweaters
  • 4 baby bibs

I sewed:

  • 1 quilt
  • 2 pillowcases
  • 1 top
  • 2 skirts
  • 3 tunics
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 shorts
  • 1 capri pants
  • 1 baby bunting
  • 2 thread catchers

I dyed:

  • lots of yarn
  • wool fleece
  • 1 old blanket
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 set of 6 napkins

That’s more than one project per week finished. I also read, cooked, gardened, walked, camped, babysat and of course, cleaned. I’m sure there’s a few more items in there that I haven’t mentioned but that’s good enough for purposes of this review. I’m pretty happy with everything I did. I learned a lot about fitting and sewing which was one of my big goals. And there’s always more to learn. It’s never-ending. Yay!

This was a much better year health-wise than 2010. Of course it wouldn’t have taken much to be an improvement because you might recall that last year was the Year of the Itchy-Peelies! Brrrr….horrors. I don’t want to think about that. I’ve been getting lots of exercise and my immune system seems to have behaved itself pretty well. I only vaguely remember having one cold/flu thing and it really wasn’t bad as these things go. Otherwise I’m feeling pretty fit and well for someone who’s heading into that time of life that has been erroneously labelled “old” – obviously by someone young. I’m not old; I’m just reaching my stride! We’ll discuss “old” in another 20 or 30 years or so, OK?

Oddly nothing momentous happened this year in my family. It was our 40th wedding anniversary in July but T-Man and I celebrated it quietly by ourselves. No births, deaths, marriages, divorces or whatnot. Just a steady progression of life and growth and learning and production. This is good. I didn’t really need another stressful year.

Now 2012 is coming up as a new journal of blank pages. We’ll see what gets written there as we move on into the New Year. I’m looking forward to the next week or so of family feasting and visiting and then the quiet and peaceful creating time of January and February. Moving right along. Have I mentioned that time moves way too fast? It really does. Guess that means I’m having a good time, huh?

Monday, December 19, 2011

My New Year’s Word

As I’ve said before, I don’t know if my Inspirational Word for the Year really helps me focus or not. Maybe I just pick them because I was already heading in that direction anyway! Regardless of its true efficacy this will be the fifth one I’ve chosen: 2008 was Contentment, 2009 was Harmonize, 2010 was Conserve, and 2011 was Acceptance. I think I did pretty well this year working on accepting things as they are instead of how I wish they would be. One aspect of that has enabled me to get out of the rut I was in and inspired me to to revamp my wardrobe. I sewed some new pieces, rediscovered old ones and enjoyed finding ways to combine them into outfits that please me. Also I’m feeling much less anxious about some things that are out of my control. Life is good.

Hmmm…I guess it really is helpful to have a goal to work towards! So I’ve decided that my word for 2012 will be Relegation. I need to work on sorting, purging, delegating, and generally cleaning up our Stuff. With T-Man planning to retire our lives will definitely change in this upcoming year. We both will benefit from deciding what is important and what needs to be jettisoned. Our house is not large but it has a lot of storage areas. Out of sight; out of mind! After 33 years of occupation, I’m sure there are things that we don’t need to keep any more. Our needs and pursuits have shifted and changed over the decades. It’s time to reassess so we can move forward freer and lighter.

On the other hand, I’m not going to let go of The Multiple Stashes! Those are the materials for many of my future projects. I might sort them out somewhat and perhaps weed out the junk a little but since we’re going to be on short financial rations after retirement I’m going to have to shop from my stashes as much as possible. It’s kind of fun actually. I’ve had some stuff so long I can’t remember where I got it or why. That means it’s now free to become something completely different than my original intention. Whatever that might have been!

In crafty news, it’s Sewing Central around here. I’ve been ignoring the several garments already cut out and ready to sew. Instead I’ve succumbed to the lure of the Minoru Jacket which is all cut out and I’ve started sewing it up. I found when cutting out the pieces that I could have gotten away with less fabric. I had more than half a metre left of the water-resistant polyester outer fabric so I could have gotten away with just over 2m, say 2.1 or 2.2, instead of the 2.7 that I purchased. I might still be able to get a vest or something out of the leftovers though. And the lining turned out to be wider than I thought and the pattern pieces fit closer together so there’s still half of the 3 metres left! Not sure what I’ll make with 1.5m of batik quilting cotton but I’m sure I’ll think of something eventually. That brings the actual cost of the jacket down to less than $60 total.

The sewing is going even better than I’d hoped – the shell fabric holds a press at least long enough to get it stitched and there’s lots of top stitching to hold it down. I was a bit concerned about the one exposed raw seam on the inside of the hood but found that I could use a lighter flame to seal the edges so they don’t fray. The collar’s zipper got a little glue on the separating part to prevent it from coming open. I used Aleene’s Jewel-It which dried clear and seems permanent and is washable. I also shortened the opening slightly so the separating end will be inside the collar and not visible on the outside. I had a little trouble gathering the neckline into the collar because the fabric is a little stiff but finally got it looking pretty good. Hopefully more progress later today. Photos to come.

Unhappily my crafting has been going more slowly than I’d like. I’ve been having some stiffness and pain in my right hand middle finger. Probably our old friend, Arthur Itis. I’m trying not to knit (hah!) and to baby it a bit and it seems to be improving. You sure don’t know how much you actually use a finger until it hurts! I was having trouble pouring tea from the pot until I switched to holding it with my left hand. And we won’t even discuss how hard it was to clean the bathroom yesterday. Apparently squeezing out a sponge is a big no-no. Sheesh. At least it’s pretty much ok when sewing. Also unfortunately there’s my left shoulder which has been bugging me for a couple of months on and off but it seems to be improving as well. I don’t think that is caused by knitting but more by the way I sleep. And of course the degenerative disc disease in my neck that’s been plaguing me for over 10 years now. I’m trying to work on my posture and exercises.

Which reminds me – it’s my turn for the elliptical trainer relay game that T-Man and I have been playing. It seems to be working to keep us motivated. Off to listen to a podcast and run away to nowhere…

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gift Given

The weavers’ guild Christmas party went really well and was a lot of fun. I got to knit for awhile at the executive meeting and then spent an hour or so working (not hard - mostly yakking) in the library. We library people got upstairs just in time to put out our potluck finger food and join the circle of chairs. I brought celery stuffed with Herbie fresh cheese (from Little Qualicum Cheese) just to be sure there would be something that was veggie. As opposed to all the tiny quiches and crackers with spreads, not to mention the many sweets! As usual the grapes were swimming in the cantaloupe juice on the fruit plate so I couldn’t have any. (I’m allergic to melons.) I indulged a little in the carb-loaded goodies but I really should be more careful. I’m starting to put on a little fluff again after being stable for a number of years. I think it’s mostly because I’m not paying as much attention and eating more of the things that I should avoid. It’s not like I’m not getting enough exercise!

So anyway, now I can show off my gift for the exchange.

Leafy Necktie

LeafyNecktie For: gift exchange

Begun: December 10, 2011

Completed: December 12, 2011

Yarn: handspun 3-ply sport weight wool, hand-painted colourway “Fall Leaves”.

Needles: Addi Lace Clik, 4mm tips, 16” cord.

Pattern: Posh Neck Scarf by Classic Elite Yarns, free pattern. Ravelry link; pattern link.

Comments: I wanted to use up this handspun 3-ply which has been lurking in the stash for so long I don’t remember making it! This was the perfect pattern but it only used up half the yarn. Perhaps I need to make another one. It’s a very quick knit. I needed a fast gift for my weavers’ guild Christmas Exchange.

I made the buttonhole larger because I was afraid the end wouldn’t fit through but think I could have left it as a 2-st buttonhole. Why do the instructions include a button? It’s not illustrated with a button. I think it’s also a bit long if you want a tight loop around your neck. The centre rib part could be shortened by a couple of inches. Someone on Ravelry suggested beginning at the narrow part just above the leaf so that the join isn’t at the back of the neck. I didn’t find that it showed very much at all, but that could be because of the variegations in the hand-painted handspun.

My scarf was won by Anita. I hope she enjoys it! She’s a handspinner and knitter too so I know she will appreciate the work. In turn, from Solveig I got a nice blank card (with handwoven fabric and buttons), a small soap and a pair of little balls made from Japanese chirimen fabrics as a decoration. She didn’t make any of these herself though. Sorry it’s too dark to take a photo. Is it just me or does everyone have a hard time actually using those nice art cards? For one thing, I so rarely send anything in the mail these days. Even birthday greetings to my siblings are emails. Yeah, I know. Bad Damselfly.

Speaking of which, I guess I need to go wash the two days’ worth of dishes that are piled all over my kitchen. I’ve been avoiding the housekeeping and being lazy instead. Only when the kitchen is clean will I allow myself to head up to my studio where my Minoru Jacket is waiting ready to be cut out. (So exciting.) Sometimes you just have to be firm with yourself, don’t you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Obligatory Seasonal Complaint

So how’s it going with you? Are you fed up with the holiday prep yet? Are you anxious and stressed? Or serene in the knowledge that you’ve got it licked this year. As you might know if you’ve been reading here for awhile that I am Mrs. Damselfly Scrooge and I bah-humbug all over Christmas. Not really, but I just can’t deal with the hype and the inflated expectations so I just ignore as much of it as possible. Although I was brought up Catholic, I haven’t believed in religion of any denomination since I was 13. (I won’t go into why because I know I’ll offend someone.) So the “real” meaning of Christmas is lost on me and all I can see are the huge overwhelming sales pitches and the unrealistic expectations. Bleh.

This year though it all seems a little subdued in some ways. The free biweekly newspaper still comes with pounds of flyers but I’m not seeing as much over-the-top decorating and in-your-face marketing going on in the shops. Even the seasonally-appropriate music isn’t nearly as annoying as usual. And most actually waited until well into November before ramping it up. Even folks putting up the lights in my neighbourhood seemed to happen later this year. Of course I just might not be noticing these things since I’m making a concerted effort to stay away from shopping malls! Either that or I’ve finally developed a more serene attitude.

OK, Yearly Rant Against the Inevitable over. On to the latest Finished Object.

Sucky Baby Mitts


For:  Rosebud (1 year old)

Begun:  December 2, 2011
Completed:  December 12, 2011

Yarn:  Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, colourway 4455 (ember), dyelot 32636. 210m = 50g. Used about 15g.

Needles:  Clover Takumi dpns, 2mm.

Pattern:  My own, created on the fly. See my Ravelry page for pattern instructions.

Comments:  These are so cute! I had a special request for mitts to keep Rosebud’s hands warm on winter walks in the stroller. She still sucks her thumb so I thought a fingerless version would work best. Since I couldn’t find a pattern that I liked, I just made these up as I went. I didn’t like the thumb treatment at first thinking it was too tight so I pulled it out to fix it. Now the thumb openings are more similar to my favourite Jacoby Mitts. The high ribbed tops can keep her hands warm but still be folded down for finger access.

So far these haven’t been put to the baby test! They also need her auntie’s mitten clips to secure them to her person. However, if they work out OK I may be making more pairs. At least they’re quick now that I have a pattern.

So why do you think she might need sucky mitts?

Rosebud and Grampa

I can’t talk – I sucked my thumb until I was 12.

I’ll post the second FO sometime after I gift it tomorrow. Which reminds me - I need to package it up still. I’ve also been plugging away on my Madder Rose Shrug. It’s the only knitting going right now so unless I cast on for something new, this is it! At least I’ve gotten into the body and established the rib pattern. It needs a marker to distinguish the centre stitch turning point and then it’s pretty mindless.

In sewing news, I’m ready to cut out the Minoru Jacket. I spent awhile tracing off the pattern first. It was refreshing to need so few adjustments but I don’t like to cut up the original pattern sheets. The Sewaholic patterns come in sizes 0-16 with all sizes on each pattern piece. That makes for a lot of lines to follow for your size. Plus the print is quite light and the lines are fine so it was easier to trace off my size, including my waist-widening and sleeve-shortening, onto fresh tissue. I could mark the seam allowances and check the measurements while I was at it. I also traced a pattern for the inseam pockets that I want to add.

In tracing off the pattern I was even more impressed with Tasia’s pattern-making skills. The reason why the lining pieces are printed separately is because they are not exactly the same as the main pieces. The lining has a little more width and the armholes are cut a little higher to prevent the outside from puckering. Elegant. The instruction sheet is pretty succinct but the illustrations seem clear. If anyone feels nervous about sewing this garment up, Tasia will be having a sew-a-long in the New Year. Her sew-a-longs are really well illustrated and she takes you through everything step-by-step. I’m not going to wait though. I want this jacket asap. I think I can handle it on my own. Heh.

Unfortunately my Minoru (which I immediately recognised as named after a park in Richmond, BC, and yes, I’ve been there!) is going to have to wait until later. I have to go get my hair cut and fetch some groceries first.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sorry. I’ve Been Busy

When last I posted, I was preparing parts for a camel necklace. Unfortunately it’s still mostly just parts! My Spectrum Study Group had a delightful meeting last Thursday at the fabu West Van seaside apartment of one of our members but we didn’t really accomplish much sewing. I got 3 of the 14 tassels sewn on and that’s it. Since I’m not likely to get back to it until the New Year when we plan to work on our necklaces at our next meeting, I’m not showing anything off just yet anyhow.

Moving right along. I was fantasizing that I’d use the camel necklace for the weavers’ guild gift exchange on Thursday but no way, José! It has eaten way too much of my time and effort to casually give it away to a random recipient. Instead I had to come up with another alternative which I’m struggling to complete in time. Unfortunately I’m not blogging it until after the meeting. Some guild members read my blog! Don’t worry. It’s good. You’ll like it. <waving hello!>

So what can I talk about? On Friday after T-Man finished work we walked all the way downtown to Dressew to find fabric for this pattern:


Yes, that’s local designer Sewaholic’s latest pattern, the Minoru Jacket. So cute! And I don’t have to do much adjustment to it because size 14 nearly fits me! Amazing. I merely widened the waist out a tiny bit to the size 16, shortened 3” off the sleeves and narrowed the cuff to the size 10. Yes, I have short arms and skinny wrists. Yes, these sleeves are very long. They are still long on me even after shortening them but no longer practically dragging on the ground. Oh and I’ve drafted some inseam pockets too. (The inside breast pockets are great but I need to be able to put my hands in!) If that sounds like a lot of adjusting to you, know that this is totally minimal in comparison to what I have to do to The Big 4 patterns. Tasia is a genius. (But she could have added the pockets for me. Just sayin’.)

BTW, I forgot to mention that I bought the pattern at the cute little Spool of Thread sewing lounge. Co-owner Lily told me that Tasia had brought the patterns in personally while wearing her spiffy orange version of the Minoru. How cool is that! She also told me that my favourite shop for outdoor fabrics, Outdoor Innovations, was moving – away from my ’hood at 17th and Main and nearer to them at 1005 Kingsway at Windsor. Since the shop was right in the midst of the move and I wasn’t sure yet exactly where it had relocated, that killed my plans to buy fabric for my jacket right away that very day.

Instead I waited for the opportunity to see what Dressew had to offer. The advantage was that I could get the zippers, interfacing, elastic and lining all at the same time there. And Dressew has the best selection of zips, but even so I couldn’t find a match for the separating zipper in a non-separating style for the collar (where the hood hides inside). I ended up with a separating one which I hope to be able to convert. As for the fabrics, I got these:

Minoru fabrics

That’s a water-resistant (I tested it!) polyester fabric in black with a tiny black-on-black check, which should be ok even though the pattern isn’t recommended for plaids or stripes. Yes, it’s kind of crinkled. It came that way! It’s a permanent effect. At least I’ll never have to worry about scrunching up and wrinkling my jacket. Heh. The batik cotton lining looks so much like something I could have made myself but I know it’s very likely not dyed in the real indigo I would have used. Nice though. It was twice what the outer fabric cost – plus it’s narrower and more yardage is needed! Oh well. I love it and that’s the main thing. This is going to be a great wearable rain-repellent jacket that fits me properly for under $100. Works for me. At the same time I also got a few metres of a soft charcoal jersey knit. I couldn’t resist. It’ll be some kind of t-shirt top thingy. Or two. Charcoal gray seems to be My Colour of late. Am I trying to blend into the perpetual twilight around here?

Speaking of twilight, while we were walking home over the Cambie Bridge there was such a fabulous full moon that everyone was stopping to take pictures. I only had my iTouch which isn’t great for dim lighting but Hipstamatic always makes things look cool anyway:


Too fun. And yes, it’s a long way home uphill. Carrying fabrics, tea and coffee from Murchies, and a few groceries as well.

On Saturday we went to the Winter Farmer’s Market and got a few yummies like Herbie fresh cheese, monster-sized eggs and a mixed variety of mushrooms. Then we went to Cob’s bakery and got some of their high-fibre breads. So good! Yesterday we spent several hours babysitting the bigger Grandbeasties while their parents went to a Christmas musical. We took them to the little local park where it was sunny but cold. Even so, Stargazer insisted on taking off his shoes and socks so he could climb up the slide with his “sticky feet”. Of course his big sister had to try it too but it didn’t take long before she decided that it was indeed too cold to run around in bare feet in December! He was harder to convince. Took even longer to get him to put his coat back on too. After we got home he was finally admitting to being chilled. Hope he doesn’t catch anything because of it. We were trying to make a point with the nearly-five-year-old that maybe warm clothing is a good idea. Silly grandparents, aren’t we?

So I still have the second Sucky Baby Mitt to finish. I’m a bit concerned that the thumb isn’t wide enough though I haven’t seen Rosebud to test it out yet. And the Madder Rose Shrug isn’t much bigger than you saw the last time. Good thing I’m not trying to keep up on the Holiday Hamster Wheel of Doom Joy that everyone else seems to be on. But where does the time go anyway? Insert picture of hourglass with sand running here…

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Naughty Knotty

I plugged away diligently yesterday and finally finished these:

Dark o’the Moon Gloves

DarkoGloves For: me

Begun: October 19, 2011

Completed: December 6, 2011

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL, colourway 325, dyelot 19214, dark blues/purples, 420m = 100g. Used about 50g, leftovers from Dark o’the Moon Kneesocks.

Needles: Blackthorn carbon fibre dpns, 2mm

Pattern: Knotty Gloves by Julia Mueller. Free pattern on Ravelry.

Modifications: I used smaller needles than the pattern called for to make small enough gloves for my little hands. I also made the wrist ribbing ½” longer than the pattern.

Comments: The pinky finger needs to be ¼” lower than the other fingers to fit properly on me. I knit it shorter to compensate but the gusset doesn’t touch the web between my fingers. Otherwise, these are very nice gloves. A lot fiddly to knit – but then gloves always are. The dark yarn, dark needles and dark days didn’t help!

DarkoGloves finger_detIt helped a lot to work on both gloves alternately. I knit a finger and tried it on until it was nearly at the tip of my finger, then knit the other to match before doing the tip decreases and finishing them both off.

Black needles, dark yarn, fiddly pattern, winter’s lack of light, old eyes – not a great mix! I’m rather stubborn however. Especially when my hands are cold.

Now I’m working on the Sucky Baby Mitts for Rosebud. They’re currently a little farther along than this:


I’m making these up as I go so I’m recording the pattern on its Ravelry page – a little at a time as I finish a section. The pattern won’t be complete until the mitts are!

What else? Oh yeah, I couldn’t resist casting on something not so teeny and a lot more mindless:


The pattern is the Shawl Collar Vest by Amanda Berka in handspun yarn from wool dyed in my home-grown madder. Since I only harvest it about every 3rd year, it’s pretty precious stuff! I have 4 balls that don’t quite match in colour so I’m using the redder ones for the collar and bottom ribs and the slightly lighter orange ones for the body. Hopefully that will look deliberate or better yet, unnoticeable. Also I hope I have enough yarn because when this is gone, there ain’t no more!

This yarn is somewhat thinner than the aran weight the pattern calls for – even lighter than worsted but I’m using the same 5mm needle size with it. The fabric is lighter but it seems to have enough body to hold its shape in the ribs. I’m knitting the largest size (40) to hopefully compensate for the not-quite-accurate gauge. Although I don’t think this shrug style needs to fit exactly anyway. This is the first project on my new Addi Lace Cliks and I like them a lot! Very smooth, exactly the right pointy-ness for me, and stable joins that don’t pop apart or catch on anything. Happiness.

I’m off to play with my Spectrum Study Group tomorrow. We’re making camel necklaces. I need to make 14 small tassels and locate some coordinating beads in the stash and I’m procrastinating…

Monday, December 05, 2011

Catching Up With December

Well we had a lovely time with Rosebud on her First Birthday – in spite of missing her nap plus the four nasty immunisation pricks she got at the doctor’s and feeling rather grumpy as a result. Rosebud’s grumpy is most babies’ normal! She’s usually incredibly easygoing. Her birthday party on Saturday also went very well and she had a great time showing off her new crawling skillz while playing with her cousins. Her other grandparents made it over from Victoria so we made sure to let them have lots of time with the Birthday Girl. We live much closer and get our baby fix often so were quite willing to share. It was nice to see family and friends and to finally meet Rosebud’s new nanny now that Milady Daughter has returned to work. Good to know our littlest grandbeastie is in capable hands. And no, I didn’t take any photos. T-Man did but hasn’t shared them with me. It’s hard to get good pics in a milling group of bodies. I’m much better at photographing inanimate objects or scenery. People are difficult.

We also managed to fit lots of walking in this past weekend. Here’s a few photos from Saturday’s walk down to False Creek. I got a few new lenses and film for the Hipstamatic app on my iTouch so I thought I’d play with it! It somehow makes the ordinary look fantastic.


Sleeping mallards.


A view of Cambie Bridge from Habitat Island. We’ve nicknamed 3-Million Dollar Island because that’s apparently what it cost to put it in. It’s only a couple of years old now and people have only recently been able to access it. Birds and fish are liking it a lot so far though.


Bird houses on a snag tree, Habitat Island.
Unfortunately couldn’t catch the seagull on the top in the fog!


Snowberries in profusion.

The weather was chilly but sunny so we took full advantage. Also avoiding any yard work while we were at it! Well, most of it anyhow. We did put the water garden into the greenhouse and moved the barbeque up to the top deck in its place. Now T can grill while mostly remaining out of the weather. I wonder why my poor shoulder has been sore lately? Does lugging toddlers and other heavy items around have anything to do with it? Anyway, we enjoyed some barbequed honey-garlic pork ribs that we picked up at Granville Island for dinner last night. Yummy.

I’m still knitting fingers on my Dark o’the Moon Gloves but I also slipped up and cast-on for a pair of mitts for Rosebud. It was a special request from her mom so her hands won’t get so cold on walks in the stroller. I decided to make them thumbless so she can suck her thumb (important!) but still tuck thumbs in if necessary. Also the tops will be open and ribbed long enough to cover her fingers but can be folded down if she needs her fingers. I’m really not at all sure if she’ll be content to wear them but we’re experimenting here. Since they’re pretty teeny and fast to knit it’s not a big deal if they don’t work out.

As soon as I’m done the Sucky Mitts I’ll be looking to cast on a new and hopefully more mindless pattern. I haven’t wanted to start anything for the last while in case it distracted me too much from the gloves. It’s been hard to finish them because I can only knit on them for short spurts in broad daylight. I really want to get them done asap now since my last pair are looking rather ratty and I need some replacements. Baby, it’s cold outside! Frost in December. And more than one day in a row of sunshine! Who’d a-thunk it?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Same But Different

I liked my thread catcher so much that I made another slightly smaller one:

Thread Catcher Too

ThreadCatcherToo1 For:  my studio

Date:  December 1, 2011

Materials, Notions and Pattern:  Same as Thread Catcher

Mods:  The bag and lining pieces were cut 11” x 8”. The fabric for the flat piece was slightly smaller than the original because I used a bit of black muslin that I had sampled on with Shiva Paintsticks.

Comments:  This one sits right at my sewing machine.


It already has threads in it!

It’s the littlest grandbeastie’s First Birthday today! Yay! Unfortunately today includes getting some immunization shots at the doctor’s. Poor baby. However we get to babysit while her parents go out to a party this evening. Her own party is tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Rosebud!