Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ruby Tuesday Revisited

Dear Ruby,

Exactly one year ago today I was sitting under the picture window in our old apartment in your great-grandparents' old love seat knitting a pair of ruby red baby booties. My water broke earlier that morning when I got out of bed to enjoy the first day of my maternity leave and your father and I spent the rest of the morning at the hospital. There was no sign that you were coming fast, so we were sent home with instructions to return later that night. As I sat knitting your booties, determined to finish them before your arrival, your father frantically cleaned the apartment, with the knowledge that at least one set of your grandparents would be arriving from Calgary within 24 hours.

Now, one year later I look at you and can't believe that the little bleary eyed being that I finally got to hold in my arms after 36 hours of labour has turned into a creature more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed. You have surprised me so many times over the course of the last twelve months: your blue eyes (which belong to neither myself or your dad), your absolute stubbornness (which belongs to both myself and your dad), your maniacal laugh, the fact that you could crawl at 5 months, your love of cheese and toast, the enthusiasm you put into your hand-clapping, your appreciation of Neil Diamond, the ease in which you interact with other children, the wet sloppy kisses that you withhold from nearly everyone but me, your obsession with the telephone and the remote control, your gentle smile, the way you bat your eyes and pose for the camera...… every move you make is a surprise.

In many ways, the last year has been the most difficult of my life, but in many others it's without a doubt been the best. I didn't expect that I'd spend every day laughing, but with your easy smile and mischievous eyes, you make me laugh at least once a day, usually much much more. With you on the verge of walking and your "talking"” being filled with more and more intonation, I can't imagine the kinds of giggles that you'’ll draw from me over the next 12 months. Your transition from baby to toddler has been so amazing to watch and I feel so lucky to know that I'll spend the forthcoming years watching you transform from a miraculous child into a phenomenal young woman.

And I'm also excited to see how I'’ll continue to transform. Since your arrival I've been less cynical, less critical and more likely to smile at people on the street. I feel like I'’m a functioning member of humanity, and for that I thank you.

Happy birthday, baby. I love you always,


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Best Friends Forever

What you see here is my Birdie Blue Blythe (right) hanging with her best girlfriend French Trench Blythe. My friend Lauren came by today to give Ruby her birthday present (in two days my little peapod will be a toddler!) and brought her Blythe to hang out and have some tea and lemon pie. You can see a bit of the fabric of the gift in the bottom right corner of the picture -- it's a beautiful spring coat in a pink and cream butterfly motif. Very chic.

And yes, that is the beginnings of a Spherey that you see there next to Blythe. I've been working hard on a little plush gift for a soon to be born baby. Just finished the arms tonight, I'll show you the whole thing once he's done. I'm also almost done FEFI, I just have to seam the arms and do the button band. Though, I gotta tell ya, I'm not digging the neck line. I've already ripped it back and omitted a few of the rows, but I've noticed on some other people's finished FEFIs that the neck tends to reach upwards into a sort of cone. Hopefully some blocking will remedy the problem. Has anyone else had neck issues with this pattern?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

FEFI Update

Here's my progress on Fairly Easy Fair Isle (FEFI), as of last night. I ended up making a bunch of mistakes because Ruby had been a giant grump all day and her unruly behaviour extended throughout the night. But, everything (including a dropped stitch, which I almost never do!) has been fixed and I think she's coming along nicely. The colourwork has been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to taking on more complex fair isle, even though I'm not sure I like the look of most fair isle patterns.

I'm not going to say much about the election -- I'm not happy that Stephen Harper is our new Prime Minister, but I am happy that Paul Martin never will be again. I do think it's a very Canadian thing that we all collectively decided to not make a decision at all by choosing one of the most splintered minority governments in history. Oh well, I'm sure we'll all be back at the polls before Ruby's third birthday.

Monday, January 23, 2006


If you're reading this on Monday and you're a Canadian, please don't forget to go out there and vote. It's not too late to get informed if you don't feel equipped to make a choice (you are already on the internet after all) and no matter how you think things are going to turn out, your vote does count. Please vote with your head and your heart.

I'm actually pretty excited about this election -- not because I'm looking forward to the results, because no matter what happens today, I will wake up tomorrow with a Prime Minister that I do not respect. But I am excited to see democracy in action this election -- I don't remember the last time that no one could truly predict what would happen on election day. If you watch the polls, we could have a Conservative majority or a Conservative minority, or everyone could get cold feet and vote Liberal like they always do. I'm not going to tell you how I'm going to vote today, but I will say that I'm voting for a party that I've never voted for before. And no, I'm not voting Conservative. Aaron, on the other hand, is torn between three parties and he doesn't think he'll decide for sure until he has the pencil and ballot in his hands (yes, American friends, we still actually vote with pencil and paper here). We'll be glued to the CBC all evening for sure.

In knitting news, I made great headway on my FEFI over the weekend. It's been forever since I've made a sweater and I forgot the exhilaration of joining the sleeves to the body without having to seam. I'm about a third of the way through the colour work and I'm loving it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Well, Hello Kitty!

While Aaron was tending to Ruby as she cried herself to sleep last night (two nights in, so far so good -- I actually got about six consecutive hours of sleep last night, which was amazing) I finally finished Kate! Now, it didn't actually take me very long to knit this little kitty, I was just feeling unmotivated and took a break to do my FEFI sleeves. I'm really happy with how she turned out. The Cascade 220 is lovely, though not as fuzzy and soft as the Lamb's Pride. Ruby will receive her Kate on her birthday (which is two weeks away), but I've already let her play with the limbless body and she loved it.

Speaking of Cascade 220, Stephanie Japel has reported that her upcoming book of designs is sponsored by Cascade, which delights me. I love Stephanie's designs (despite my aforementioned disappointment in her latest Knitty contribution) and I love Cascade, partially because it's easy to find in my neck of the woods, but also because it comes in some pretty great colours. The book sounds like its still a ways off, so maybe I'll be able to finish a few things on my knit list before I get tempted.

In other news of me, my maternity benefits are quickly coming to an end, so I'm starting to try the work at home thing. Today I have my first interview (with a largely unknown band from Boston -- I'm not going to name them because I don't want people led here if they google the band) since Ruby's birth. We'll see if my little one lets me yak on the phone for a half hour uninterrupted. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

That girl

People have been asking about my Blythe doll -- here she is (well, the manufacturer's portrait, I'm too lazy to take a photo of her myself). She's part of the new Japanese line of Blythes and her name is Birdie Blue. Aaron bought her from Magic Pony, a really great import toy shop/gallery here in Toronto that's owned by some friends of friends. They do mail order -- check them out at magic-pony.com.

So, I have something I have to confess. Although I find celeb chef Rachel Ray totally crass and annoying, I'm obsessed with her recipes. I got her 365 No Repeats book for Xmas (yes, I actually asked for it) and I've cooked from it almost every night of 2006. The meals are, for the most part, easy, inexpensive and delicious. She tends to go a little too heavy on the southwestern flavours (waaay too much jalapino and cumin) and the meals are a little meat heavy and not very low-cal (loads of cheese), but I like the idea of surprising Aaron with a totally new recipe every night. Last night it was Meatloaf Patties with Maple Pecan Green Beans and it was beyond delicious. Is it wrong for me to let Rachel Ray so intimately into my life?

Man, I need to start working again. This housewife thing is turning me into a person that I barely recognize sometimes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mmm... Arms!

Yes, I have been knitting. Just not as much as I'd like too, since Ruby's been such a lousy sleeper the last few weeks. Anyway, here are the sleeves from Fairly Easy Fair Isle, which I finished a couple nights ago. I knitted them both at the same time -- its the first time I've done it, and it's a must for someone who's easily distracted. I do tend to increase on the wrong row at least once, so at least by minor mistakes are consistent now.

I'm going to finish Kate before I join the sleeves to the body. Last night I finished the ears and one arm -- I'm not really feeling compelled to finish the limbs, so it's been a slow go. I love using my DPNs, but I'm not really into the piddly 14 stitches at a time work. You really lose the rhythm of knitting when you're working that small. Still, I'm hellbent on finishing before Ruby's birthday, so expect a finished Kate soon.

Aaron got back from Chicago safe and sound and brought me two gifts: a delicious burrito (yum!) and the Blythe Style book, which is even more lovely than its predecessor, This Is Blythe. Aaron bought me my very own Blythe doll (the Japanese reproduction, not one of the super rare originals) for my 30th birthday this summer and I love her beyond belief. Ack -- there's another craft project on my back burner -- make clothes for Blythe!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

My milkshake brings all the boys...

So, Aaron is in Chicago this weekend, so we girls are all on our own. Ruby hasn't been sleeping very well (which stems from our trip West last month), but we've been keeping busy, so it hasn't been as hard as I'd expected. On Friday she had a play date with most of the members of our Mom's group (which only meets occasionally now that most of the moms are back at work). Today we have a couple dates with some of my girlfriends. And yesterday, we hit the Milk Bar.

I've decided that Daddy-O's Milk Bar is one of my favourite places in Toronto. I went there with Jo on Monday and we returned (this time with Lauren as well) yesterday. Now, it doesn't quite match the magic of the hipster all-hotdog restaurant, but the menu consists of about 10 kinds of milkshakes, 10 desert waffles and some savory crepes and sandwiches. The price is right, they're incredibly kid friendly and they played Carole King's Tapestry in it's entirety yesterday. The people who frequent it seem to be really nice too -- yesterday I saw a dad pointing to a big picture of The Beatles on the wall, quizzing his four your old son on which Beatle was which. Sigh.

On the crafty front, I have so much swimming in my head that I can't stand it. I'm still working on Fairly Easy Fair Isle (sleeves almost done, pics to come tomorrow once A brings the camera home from Chicago), I need to finish Kate, I have yarn already for more Jess Hutch stuff plus a pair of socks, I'm thinking about ordering the Glampyre Urban Shawl and One Skein Wonder patterns and I have my eye on the Kirsten Dunst Spiderman cap. I also haven't touched my sewing machine yet nor have I explored the Jenny Hart Sublime Stitching kit that I got at a closing-out sale almost a year ago. Plus, I'm really itching to try one of the porn rug hook kits which you can find here. For a girl with very few FOs to show lately, I've got a lot of crafting to do! And I'm not even thinking about the fact that I have to start writing to make some money because my maternity benefits run out at the end of the month. Well, trying not to think about it, at least.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I've been knitting all evening and will post photos of my progress tomorrow, but as promised, here's a picture of Ruby with the beautiful handmade gift that her Auntie Daniella made her for Christmas. Daniella made the punk rock monster doll to Roo's right. She hand sew it out of her old punk rock t-shirts and used buttons from her girlfriend Erin's late mother's button collection for the face. As a special touch, she added star and heart tattoos on the wrists, in the same place her own tattoos are. Daniella's not much of a domestic goddess, and she really put her whole big heart into this project (it took her months). It makes me cry to even think about it.

The other doll is one that Aaron bought for Ruby at a craft fair earlier this year. She's made by Monster Factory and her name is Patti.

And yes, I'm aware that Ruby's feet look giant in this photo. She's wearing new sheep skin-lined wool slippers that she got for Xmas from her new boyfriend Ryson. He's seven months old and totally adorable.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oh yes, I'm a housewife!

Just in case you didn't already think I was a dork of tremendous proportions, I called a radio call-in show today. On public radio. No, I'm not 85. Or a shut in. Or a particularly bored housewife... or so I thought.

For those of you living outside of Canada, our nation is facing an election later this month. None of the players are particularly savory -- we've got the current Prime Minister (who's a bit of a wimp), the Conservative forerunner (who believes the exact opposite of everything I hold dear, plus he's got a really creepy little smile), the Guy I Usually Vote For (a lefty who's coming off a bit like a used car salesman this time around) and the French Separatist (who I couldn't vote for even if I wanted -- though I did meet him once and he's more charming than you'd ever believe). Anyway, I've been itching to call in on a variety of subjects over the past month or so and today I caved.

The Alberta afternoon show was doing a simulcast with the Ontario afternoon show on the gap between the typically Conservative voters in Alberta and the Ontario Liberals. Being a transplanted Albertan in Ontario, I felt the urge and I couldn't stop myself. After being on hold for 45 minutes, I finally got my big chance. And two seconds before I was about to go on, Ruby started screaming.

So, I started breastfeeding, and I felt self-conscious the whole time I was on the radio, not able to come off like my usual articulate self. Damn.

On the knitting front, I'm taking a break from Kate and doing the Fairly Easy Fair Isle sleeves. I'm doing them both at once and have already done two rows in a row on the same sleeve because Ruby's wakefulness in the evening has been getting me up and down during my usual knitting hours. It's like she's an infant again, except without the naps. Phew.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

SP7 Questions

Since I'm dorking out to the max on this whole Knitblog thing (Aaron calls it my "Leo Blog" because he thinks it's my zodiac call for attention), I've signed up for Secret Pal 7. As required by the SP7 people, here's a little questionnaire so my fabulous gifter can get to know me a little better (and a picture taken last spring, so you can get a feel for my general Elizabeth-ness):

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?
Yes, I am a yarn snob. I hate using Red Heart even for small projects. I have been known to use Lion Brand, but am never really happy with the results. While I can't really afford a huge natural fibre habit, I do have a taste for the good stuff.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
No and no.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Right now, one of those plastic set of drawers that you can get at Home Depot.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting obsessively for about two and a half years. I'd say I'm probably an intermediate knitter.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Coconut or jasmin.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Mmm, I do indeed have a sweet tooth and a full-on chocolate addiction.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I'm learning how to sew. I also like cooking.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Music... by profession I'm a music critic, largely specializing in indie rock and alt.country/singer-songwriter stuff. I also have a soft spot for mainstream pop and oldies, plus stuff from the '70s like Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Pink. I love pink. And orange. And black. Not much of a fan of the pastel blues and greens.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm married with a 11-month old daughter. The hub has asthma, so no pets, though I love cats and small dogs.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I'm off the ponchos (though I have been known to wear the short capelet kind, but only in special circumstances), and as a Canadian, I do wear scarves, hats and mittens. Constantly.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
I love Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. I love many others too and there are many out there that I'd like to try.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Fun fur or anything of it's ilk.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
Toys. And I'm starting to think about socks (just bought my first sock yarn today!)

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Hats. They're easy and quick.

17. What are you knitting right now?
Knitty's Kate and SNBN's Fairly Easy Fair Isle.

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
Depends on the project. Generally, if I can use straight, I do, but I also like a well-made circular.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
All of the above.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

22. How did you learn to knit?
From a book. Self-taught, with a few pointers from my mother-in-law.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
About a year and a half. A gross acrylic baby blanket that I started when I got pregnant and abandoned once the baby was born.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
I love cats.

25. What is your favorite holiday?

26. Is there anything that you collect?
Not really.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
None (it can be a pain up here in Canada) but I usually try to pick up Interweave and Vogue or anything else I can find locally.

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
I'm open to anything.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Short rows, practice more intarsia, try some more complicated lace.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I'm just starting on the socks. I'm a size 7 to 8 shoe.

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
August 17. 197something.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Kate: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cat

So, Kate is turning out to be a really quick knit. Last night I managed to stuff the torso, knit the head, embroider the face (er, twice) and finish the main piece off all in a little over an hour (didn't have much free time last night due to the fact that Miss Ruby has earned herself three new teeth in the past six days and hasn't been sleeping well). Here's the earless, limbless kitty Kate, knitted up in Cascade 220, which I procured from Knit One, Chat Two in Calgary with last year's Xmas gift certificate. I'm definitely digging Jess Hutch's style -- the increases are masterfully placed and really create a lovely shape. I'm not too happy with my embroidery placement though -- I've been noticing on other blogs that almost everyone is putting the face a little too high and I desperately tried to get it as low as I was comfortable with it, to avoid the same problem. Still, it's far too high, and after redoing it after a failed attempt to make the cat smile, I decided to let it lay where it is.

As promised, here's a picture of Ruby in one of her Xmas gifts -- a T-shirt stencilled by her Auntie Erin. The picture is of Erin's Aunt, holding a bottle of milk. I love the way Ruby looks in it -- with her little jeans, she looks like a mini teenager.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nana does a mean intarsia

As promised, here are some photos of Ruby's most excellent Xmas gifts from her Nana. Leena knitted her a beautiful sweater and a little dress (which, if it doesn't fit in the summer, can double as a tunic). I chose the sweater last summer when I was pregnant. Leena was knitting the baby who would become Ruby an amazing blanket and had a little booklet that went with the yarn she was using (it's a cotton made by some local yarn company). I didn't want to chose something gender specific, so I asked for this question mark sweater, mainly because I thought it was so weird. I dig the little penguin buttons.

The dress is from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits For Tots. Leena got the pattern from my copy of the book, which I got for Christmas from my Mom last year. No, I haven't made anything for Ruby from the book myself, though I do covet the pirate sweater -- I want to make it in pink and black.

As for my own knitting these days, I've finished the bottom half of the body (in Lamb's Pride chocolate souffle) of my Fairly Easy Fair Isle and I've also got a good chunk done of Kate's lower torso (in pink and mauve Cascade 220). More pictures (plus some more Ruby gifts) in the days to come.