Friday, March 31, 2006

Gone Fishing

Don't expect much from these parts over the next two weeks -- our little family is packing up and going on vacation. I may post remotely, but I may not, so please do return when I return mid-month.

For the morbidly curious, I'll be bringing along a hank of Opal sock yarn for the IW Simply Lovely Lace Socks and some Lamb's Pride for a Jess Hutch toy. And yes, I've figured out where the tropical LYS is. I'm making a pact with myself that I'm not going to use it.

Happy spring!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

FO: Mata Hari Socks

Pattern: Mata Hari socks by Steph at Craftoholic
Yarn: Fleece Artist Basic Merino
Needle: Size 1 DPNs

Ta-da. Apologies for the sideways-ness of the photo -- Aaron got a little fancy with the camera and I don't know how to turn it around. But, after much strife, here are my Project Spectrum Mata Haris.

I developed a major mental block making these socks. It may just be the stressfulness of the month I've had, but I really stacked the odds against myself. And no, it didn't really have anything to do with the pattern or the yarn.

My problem started with the fact that Mata Hari is more of a stitch pattern than an actual sock recipe and since the only socks I've made thusfar have been Jaywalkers (which come with a very detailed pattern), I had to kind of wing it as far as the sock shaping went. The yarn came with a basic stockinette pattern, but I didn't like the construction very much, so I improvised a little, which kind of freaked me out. Also, because the yarn was presented kind of like a kit, there was no yardage on the label, and I was constantly afraid I'd run out of yarn. So, the socks aren't as long as I would have liked and a little short in the foot as well. I also realized that I have a wee merino allergy and my right hand got very dry and puffy as knitting progressed. All in all, I wasn't totally dedicated to making a great sock, so the toes and heels aren't as elegant as I would have liked.

The up side is, I'm becoming a more confident sock knitter and I'm determined to press on with my Project Spectrum sock project. I would like to try the Mata Haris again (they suddenly seem to be all the rage, thanks in part to the fact that Grumperina has started a pair) as it is a lovely pattern. Next time around I'm going to buy two hanks of yarn in a lighter weight and a solid colourway so I can make them mid-calf length and really show off the eyelets. I would recommend hitting Steph up for the chart (although it's not hard to figure out from the brief instructions on her blog), but if you're not an experienced sock knitter, make sure you have a really good basic sock pattern to modify so you don't run into my angst.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lack Of Self-Portrait Tuesday

Ironically enough, there will be no SPT today because I just don't have the time. We leave for holiday on Friday (to, erm, Hawaii), Ruby's got an ear and eye infection, I've got a terrible cold and there is still so much to be done.

So, today I give you a picture of the cutest bikini I've ever seen. Mindful of timing, I suppose, I bought this one last fall in anticipation of our tropical vacation. Since I'm paranoid about the Roo burning she'll probably only wear it for a photo before being shoved into her full body UV suit. Still, I think it's adorable and it cost a whole four dollars.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More Love From SP7

This morning my fantastic Secret Pal posted a comment promising a new package and sure enough the mail woman was knocking at my door just a few hours later. My pal gave not just with her pocketbook, but also with her heart and sent me some really great customized items. First up is two balls of Brown Sheep Wildfoote, which I've never seen up in these parts (Toronto seems to be strictly a Lamb's Pride kind of town). My pal bought the yarn in Vanilla (aka white) and hand dyed it in a colourway that she's calling Atomic Apples. I love it. I'm going to have to find a really special sock pattern for this stuff because I'm going to keep whatever I make from it for myself. She also included a set of DPNs that she handpainted, a little yarn snipper (perfect for my upcoming 10 hour plane trip!) and a super dark chocolate bar. Thanks Secret Pal!

Oh, and that little strawberry is a swatch she knitted up to demonstrate the colourway of the yarn. Did I mention I love it?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Like Mother Like Daughter

Look what arrived in the mail yesterday, courtesy of Ruby's Nana.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday

It's that time.

Time to pull my favourite pink spring shoes out of the closet and dust them off. And yes, this is a commentary on time and how dictated by time my life is. It's cold as can be here, but since yesterday was officially the first day of spring, I feel compelled to start thinking about my spring wardrobe. Plus, pink shoes just make me happy.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Post Weekend Update

It's weird -- even though I'm not working, spring seems to bring so much busy-ness. The work is piling up and so is the socializing, which means that my crafty endeavors are on the back burner. Here's what I've managed in the last week: one arm of Swing Thing and the cuff of my second sock. Since it's been so cold, I haven't been that anxious to finish Swing Thing, but I better hurry up before Ruby grows out of it, no?

As for the Mata Hari sock, which I'm hoping I have enough yarn to finish (I think it's looking all right), I'm starting to realize that the yarn isn't actually red or pink, but more of a purple. I seriously think I'm developing colour blindness, especially when it comes to variegated yarns. I bought two skeins of this Fleece Artist stuff (one for a gift) and I kept this one because I thought it would produce a pair of cherry red socks. Now, there's some magenta in there, but it's mostly purple, burgundy and mauve. To top it off, the sock yarn that I got for next month's Project Spectrum (yellow and orange) is looking kind of rose to me now. What's wrong with me? (to top it off, I only just now realized that this photo is completely blurry -- yes, I'm going crazy. Or blind. Or both).

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I Chew-Chew Choose You

So, this is kind of old news, since the opening was last night, but I urge all of you Torontonians to go check out our friend Jason Kronenwald's Gum Blondes show at Le Gallery on Dundas (at Ossington). We went down to the gallery last night and I must say, I was blown away. The first time I ever went to Jay's house (Jay is married to the very crafty Sam and is the father of Ruby's little buddy Sadie) he plunked down a plate of gum and told myself and the rest of our mom's group to get chewing. It was explained that he made art of chewed gum and always needed a new supply of material.

Now, back then, I foolishly thought that Jay's art was going to be kind of goofy, but once I saw them I became at little obsessed. His Gum Blondes are a series of portraits of blonde celebs (think Britney, Paris, Jessica, etc) and they're gorgeous beyond belief. I'd already seen his Avril Lavigne in real life, but there are about 10 beautiful blondies on display at the gallery and together they're a sight to behold. Ruby had a great time at the opening too -- she and Sadie were running around like crazy. Quite literally -- my little gal took her first steps at about 4 p.m. yesterday and decided to strut her stuff at Jay's show. She likes an audience.

Oh, and if you don't live in Toronto, there's a lovely Gum Blondes website here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Meet Ivy

It's been pretty grey here (both figuratively and literally), so I thought I'd brighten things up with a picture of a knitted toy that Ruby got from her Nana and Poppa this summer. Leena and Roger were vacationing in Newfoundland and they came across a store full of these beautiful knitted dolls. We named Ruby's doll Ivy and, except for the skirt, she's knit in the round in a single piece. I think she's amazing -- I love her orange hair, her athletic socks and the cat on her turtleneck sweater. Apparently there's a gaggle of elderly ladies knitting these things to sell at the store. The best part? She only cost $10. Now, these ladies could easily sell these things in a hipster store in Toronto or Vancouver for $40, but they're keeping it real up there in Newfoundland.

Speaking of pink and Project Spectrum, here's the first of my Fleece Artist Mata Hari socks. I've been feeling pretty uninspired, what with all the work work I have on my plate and Ruby's continuing teething/not sleeping woes. I must say, I'm not feeling these socks. I'll go into it in further detail once I finish/abandon sock #2, but since Mata Hari isn't really a pattern so much as a stitch chart and I'm not the most experienced sock master in the world, I'm not feeling like I'm doing my best work. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to run out of yarn. Still, I'm determined to press on, once I'm done the sleeves on my Swing Thing, of course. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday

This month's challenge is "time" and since I don't think that a series of photos of myself taken at various points of the day is particularly conducive to this blog, I give you this. On the right is the first gift that Ruby ever received, a little sleeper from our friends Tyler and Marzia (and their little daughter Lily). It's the first outfit that Ruby ever wore -- we brought her home from the hospital in it and she swam in it. On the left is the lastest outfit that Ruby's received, a gorgeous coat and some pants and a shirt from our friend Lauren, who is addicted to buying little girls' clothes. What a difference 13 months makes.

Now, I know that this is supposed to be a self-portrait, and please don't think that I consider images of Ruby as being equivalent to images of myself. But that's kind of the point here: when she fit into the blue outfit, she still was a part of me. Every ounce of nutrient that built her body passed through mine first: I spent nine months growing her inside of me and then exclusively fed her with my own body for another six. Now, as she gets her fuel for growth from other sources and is down to just a couple nurses a day, she's becoming less and less a part of me and more and more an independent agent. Heck, she learned how to feed herself with a spoon yesterday! So, that's what time has done in this case: transformed my sweet girl from a satellite of myself into an independent being. And that's a very good thing.

Oh, and I apologize for the lack of snazzy composition on this one -- frankly, it's a miracle that I got this thing up at all today. It's been a hub of busy-ness (business?) in our house: I have three interviews this week (the son of a pair of English folk singers, an dreamboat gone solo artist and the female singer of a Canadian indie-pop band who's putting out a solo album of her own), Aaron's been busy working on jingle pitches and Miss Ruby is growing some new teeth, which has been unbearable for both her and myself. Plus we're readying for our vacation, which we leave for in two weeks. Whew!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Sweater Girls

With all my SPT action, I know most of you are probably tired of looking at my mug, but I did want to post a photo of my finished FEFI. For the knit nerds out there, here are the specs:

Pattern: Fairly Easy Fair Isle from Stitch 'N' Bitch Nation
Size: S
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky in Chocolate Souffle, Lotus Pink, Victorian Pink and Oatmeal
Needle: U.S. 11

It's not closed because I still can't find my button box (still in a moving box somewhere, I hope) and I haven't been able to make it down to a fabric store. But, you get the idea. I'm incredibly satisfied with this sweater -- I was afraid that it was going to be too shlubby, but it fits pretty nicely, especially for something knit out of bulky yarn. I did adjust the neck line a little, skipping some of the final garter rows. I'm looking forward to wearing it out on the patio on the days that it's really too cold to barbeque, but we do it anyway because we're so excited to see spring.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pink, Please!

Here's the body for Ruby's Swing Thing, knitted up in some Lamb's Pride. I was a little afraid that my gauge was betraying me, but I tried it on the kid and it fits. Perfectly. Which means it won't fit by fall, or if nature decides to play with me, may not fit by next week. I think I can probably stretch it out in the blocking process, it only needs to be a smidge bigger to be perfect. Still, though, I'm pretty happy with it. I am a little envious, however of Sam's emerging Swing Thing, which she's knitting for her little Sadie in gorgeous Noro. Sadie and Ruby are going to look pretty sharp walking around the neighbourhood this spring.

And, continuing in the Project Spectrum vibe, I cast on a pair of socks last night with some beautiful Fleece Artist sock yarn in a colourway that's full of pinks, wines, berries and browns. It's a truly amazing yarn and a little thicker than my last sock yarn, so it's knitting up nice and quick. I'm making the Mati Hari socks from Craftoholic and the pattern is really fun, though not as taxing as full-on lace. I think my next socks will be the lacy ones in the new Interweave, so this is a nice refresher in the world of YOs.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday: Anatomy Of A Sunday Night

Apologies to those who come here for the knitting (or anything other than the most mundane aspects of my life) -- it's a big SPT today. Loads of eliza-knitting tomorrow, I promise.

So, the SPT theme this month is "Time," and it seems that Kath is looking for us to explore some of the aforementioned mundane aspects of daily life. Believe you me, as a stay-at-home mom, I can deliver. So, I was thinking about time, how I spend time, how I waste time... and the biggest time drain I could think of is The Oscars. I get Oscar fever every year and by the end of it, I always wonder why I allow myself to let so many hours of my life just slip away. So, I present to you, the anatomy of my Sunday night:

4:30 p.m. -- Oscars yet to start, Aaron and Ruby out for coffee, I leisurely check my email. Sigh.
5:30 p.m. -- With the pre-game on in the living room, I feed Ruby her delicious pasta dinner.
6:30 p.m. -- Still excited about the Oscars, I watch on as Isaac Mizrahi fumbles over himself.
7:30 p.m. -- Bath time. I kill time as the bath runs. Will Ruby be asleep in time for Jon Stewart's monologue?
8:30 p.m. -- I made it to the monologue, but I needn't have bothered. I'm clearly more excited about the wine and pizza.
9:30 p.m. -- Still an hour and a half to go, and I'm in an Oscar-induced coma. I don't even have the energy to knit.
10:30 p.m. -- The kitchen is a mess, the most heavy-handed self-righteous film nominated won Best Picture and I'm ready to sleep.

So, there you go. As I promised, mundane. On the bright side, I did win my Oscar wager with my father. Hooray.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In the pink

March is Project Spectrum's month of pink (and red, I guess) and I'm hot to trot! Now, I never need an excuse to work with pink yarn -- one of the reasons I dove in to knitting was that pink wasn't as "in" a few years back as it is now, and I was seduced by the hot pink yarns. Anyway, I have a few things planned: namely Swing Thing, which is about half way done, though I'm realizing that it may be a bit of a bust. I substituted yarn, and after checking my gauge on the garter stitch, figured I was good to go. Not so good on the stockinette, which makes up about 75 per cent of the garment. Oops. Of course, the beauty of kids clothes is that fit doesn't have to be perfect, so we'll see how it goes. After that, I have some red sock yarn set aside, pattern TBA.

Whilst digging through my stash, I found this little hat, which was totally finished, save for the hem, which I quickly sewed up this morning. It's the Cameron's Cap pattern by Sarah Peasley. Unfortunately, it's knit up in some Lion's Brand Cotton-Ease that I had left over from my disastrous That '70s Poncho (not a pattern I would recommend, not that anyone wears ponchos any more really anyway), so it's neither particularly warm or particularly structured. Still, I love this pattern and think I'll make one for the Roo for next winter. It's time she graduated from the umbilical cord hat, don't you think?