Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ring It In

It's been a while since Blythe has made an appearance over here, but since she's all decked out in her new party dress, I thought I'd give her a chance to show it off. The dress was a Christmas gift from Aaron -- it's a tiny approximation (though, not a particularly accurate one) of the dress that Molly Ringwald wears to the prom in Pretty In Pink. It's taken almost six years, but my husband has somehow become the kind of person who will seek out a tiny version of a dress from an '80s teen movie for a terribly expensive plastic doll. Don't forget that he bought me Blythe for my 30th birthday in the first place. Aaron, I love you. A lot.

Any way, we'll be ringing in the new year tonight and reflecting on how crazy 2006 has been for us. This has really been the year that we've shifted from our (relatively) starving artist in the big city lives to a (again, relatively) more comfortable parent types in a smaller city lives. Of course, everything is very relative (we were never even close to being in actual poverty and we're still living a pretty modest existence), but we've made a lot of big changes, both mental and geographical in the last year and we're hellbent on celebrating them. Hopefully 2007 will be full of an equal number of surprises -- though I'm crossing my fingers that none of them will involve us selling a house that we've owned for less than a year or moving across the country.

So, happy new year to all. May your 2007 be full of love, joy, and lots of good news.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year End Wrap

Ah, a happy impending new year to all. I suppose that this is the time of year that craft blog types should reflect on a year full of productive craft time (or, as my case may be, the amount of time I spent in front of the TV/DVD player while my fingers happened to be knitting away). In 2006, I completed a single sweater (I know, I like the small stuff) for myself, one sweater for Ruby, 4 Jess Hutch toys, 7 pairs of socks, a pair of baby legwarmers, 3 scarves, 3 pairs of wristwarmers, 3 baby hats (including one that ended up on a doll), a neck warmer, a shawl, a pair of children's mittens, a beret and a pair of slippers. I also used the sewing machine to make an apron, seven Wee dolls, a kitty doll, a Halloween costume and the Olive and Archie dolls (which were well appreciated, by the way). Phew.

In the unlikely case that anyone is interested, I'm borrowing this questionnaire from Lolly so that I can pay tribute to 2006, a year of knitting.

What is your absolute favorite project you've ever knit (one that fulfilled both process and product)?
The socks. If I had to narrow it down I'd say the Jaywalkers, because they were my first and you can't beat that first turn of the heel.

Which of your handknits do you wear the most often?
Again, socks. My current personal faves are the Simply Lovely Lace Socks (pictured above). A nice combo of warm wool, but lots of holes for my feet to breathe through.

What was your favorite gift to knit?
Kate. For Ruby's first birthday.

Which of your handknits are gathering dust your closet?
Fairly Easy Fair Isle. There's a reason I don't knit sweaters. Bulky yarn sweaters may not try my patience, but they sure ain't flattering to a girl's figure.

Which of your handknits have you gotten rid of?
Nothing from this year. I think Aaron donated my That '70s Poncho to the Sally Ann though, since I didn't even wear it once.

If you've knit socks, what is your favorite pattern?
I love any of the basic rib patterns from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.

What would you like to make in 2007?
I'd like to do a really nice sweater, but something in a really fine gauge, so it might take me a while. I also know about a zillion babies waiting to be born, so I think that's going to take up some time too. Oh, and an afghan. We need afghans in our house.

What have you learned about your craft in 2006?
To stick to things I enjoy knitting. Sounds simple, but there's no need to push myself just to prove a point.

What events/sites have you particularly enjoyed in the blogosphere in 2006?
I liked Project Spectrum because it inspired me to become insane enough to knit a pair of socks every month for six months. I also liked the secret pal stuff I participated in. I want to get in on more wacky trades (though more focused -- I found SP a little too open-ended and stressful) and KAL kind of stuff just to keep myself motivated.

So, that's it. What did you make this year?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Doll Revolution

Phew. My final homemade gift of the season. Meet Olive and Archie, the famed Wee Wonderful Make-a-long dolls. I learned a lot from making these little guys. They're not perfect and I pooped out before I could do details like the collar on Olive's shirt, but I'm pretty proud of these dollies. And, since I abandoned the other knitted gift I had in the works (pretty much finished, but they were slippers and deemed far too small for the recipient's foot), I'm done. Done, done, done. Plus I spent 2 and a half hours wrapping presents today, so with the exception of the box of Amazon goodies that the postman brought at 7 p.m. tonight (which in itself was a Christmas miracle -- I was sure they weren't going to arrive despite Amazon's promises to the contrary) that's done too. And it seems like the Norfolk virus that has enveloped me is done too, seeing as I scarfed down my curry dinner tonight. Yippee.

With that said, I can't really see much more blogging action going on here between now and Monday, so happy holidays to all. Give your loved ones a kiss and a hug for me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wrapping It Up

Here is the last knitted Christmas present that you'll see up here on this blog. I do have one more to do, but I'll only be talking about it over at Who Wouldn't Want A Knitted Gift? in order to protect the innocent. This, of course, is the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, which will be presented to Aaron's sister's girlfriend, Erin. Yes, it does get confusing with an Erin and an Aaron in the family.

Unlike the last one I made, I used the recommended yarn for this scarf: Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in the liqueur colour. I must say, the addition of the silk into the mohair really made this a nicer and less itchy scarf. It was pricey, but definitely worth it. And I do love these little scarves, though knitting lace-weight mohair on U.S. #10 needles isn't the most relaxing knit.

So, only a few things to do this week before the big day, but things have been drastically derailed by a stomach bug that Miss Ruby picked up last week. We had to take a couch day on Thursday due to fever and intense grumpiness, followed by stomach clutching and more grumpiness through the weekend. Now I've seem to caught it and I know why she was so cranky -- those stomach cramps hurt. But, if I get my appetite back like she has I'll be enjoying my turkey on Monday. Yum!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Invasion Of The Wee People

The Wees are finished! Oh, how I wish the lighting was better today so I could photograph them more dramatically -- but alas, they will find their new homes soon, so I had to capture them today. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow morning and get a better shot for flickr. Either way, here they are, seven completed Wees for the purpose of hostess gifting (plus a few additional small gifts -- I don't, thank goodness, have seven house parties to attend between now and Christmas).

Their names are, from left to right, Esther, Edie, Alice, Riley, Stella, Anita and Violet. Not a single one of them is perfect or professional looking, but they were all made with love and lumpiness. A seamstress I am not, but warts and wonkiness are what makes folk art beautiful. Yes, I'm brandishing myself a folk artist. So what.

Oh, and for those not already familiar with the work of Hillary Lang (and thus must not be regular readers of this blog), you can find the Wee pattern over at the amazing Wee Wonderfuls site in the freebies section.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just In Case You Were Wondering...

... I haven't stopped knitting. No, I haven't traded my yarn and bamboo DPNs for a sewing machine and some embroidery floss -- though I have been feeling that way lately. I think I've dove a little too far into the domestic arts this season -- I'm ready to sink back into my couch with a big pile of yarn and some #8 needles. And I shall, as soon as I'm finished my wees. In addition to the last two Xmas gifts I need to finish up (that ball of Kidsilk Haze up there is for another Airy Scarf, this one for my sister-in-law's very stylish girlfriend, Erin) I've started thinking ahead.

Already on the needles is Henry, Jess Hutch's teddy bear, who will be gifted to my cousin's yet to be born son. The little guy is expected to make his appearance about a month early, so I'm getting a move on. And that lovely orange stuff you see is half of the Misti Alpaca I just bought to make into a special baby blanket for my upcoming niece or nephew (my first!!), who will be with us in June. Considering that I never finished the baby blanket I started for Ruby when I was about three months pregnant, I best get a move on on that one too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sleeping Babes

On Friday Aaron's mum, Leena, showed up with a load of stuff that had been given to her for me by a woman named Elinor, who was Aaron's childhood piano teacher. Elinor is getting on in years and is moving to an assisted living complex, so she's had to clean out her house and give away many of her things. I won't go into detail on the other things she gave us -- they are far too deserving of their own posts. But, among the treasures were these two little angel ornaments. They're plastic and date back to the early '50s, when Elinor would have been a child. Elinor's mother would put the unbreakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree so the children could play with them. Elinor wanted Ruby to have them, so they're now proudly displayed on the lower branches of our tree and will reappear there every year until Ruby has a home and a tree of her own.

Speaking of Christmas traditions, which is happily a hot topic among all the craft bloggers, we're starting a new one for Ruby this year. When I was a kid, one of the families in our neighbourhood had a tradition of allowing their two children, Heather and Rick, to open one present on Christmas Eve before they got ready for bed. Every year they'd be so excited for that one present -- which would always, without fail, be a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed that night. The thing is, while everyone else in the world new that the early gift was going to be PJs, Heather and Rick were always surprised and always delighted to find their fresh night clothes under the tree. They loved it. So, this year, and every year that she lives under my roof, Santa will give Ruby a new pair of jammies on Christmas Eve to keep her warm.

Got any traditions you'd like to share? Bring 'em on!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Morning After

Well, the second annual A Very Boothy Christmas (yes, that's what it's called) has come and gone. Preparing for a holiday party is one of the most stressful things, in the realm of happy events at least, that one can knowingly put themselves through. Yesterday morning I was a basketcase, yelling at poor Aaron and accusing him of going out of his way to aggravate me. Then Ruby didn't want to have a nap. Then, although the invitation said anytime after 3 p.m., not a soul showed up until well after four. But, once things started rocking, it was an excellent gathering.

We had about 50 guests, including a swarm of beautiful little children, which made Ruby really happy. The punch (booze and not booze) was a hit and the cookies were enjoyed. I ended up making seven kinds: peppermint double chocolate chip, almond stars, orange chocolate shortbread, rum balls, pecan pie bars, ginger snaps and jalapeno shortbread. The jalapeno shortbread was the miss of the group (they caused a six-year-old boy to cry "Mommy, these taste weird!") and the pecan pie bars were the biggest attraction. I'm still tweaking my holiday baking repertoire, something that I imagine will take decades.

On a side note, Ruby was gifted her first My Little Pony, a sugary looking purple thing with a flowing pink and blue mane. She freaked out and spent the whole afternoon showing people her pony, demonstrating how to comb the mane and squealing "purple pony, purple pony!!!" What is inside of her that is so instinctually girly? While I secretly love it, I'm also afraid of my future, which will be full of Barbies and ponies and fake lipstick and high heels.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wee? Oui!

At the risk of becoming considered a full-fledged Wee Wonderfuls groupie, I spent an hour or two whipping up my very first Original Wee yesterday. I love the cuteness of her imperfection -- I've seen some on the Flickr group that are made with sturdier fabric and turn out like perfect little Ukrainian Easter Eggs. But I like the lumpiness and bumpiness of my funny little wee -- she's like a flowery little blue and red potato.

I plan on making a few more of these in the next week or two to give as hostess gifts to the handful of parties and Christmas dinners we're going to over the course of the month. I have a bunch of fat quarters in different colours that I picked up for this very purpose. Cute, a little bit weird and costing only about $5 for the materials? Not bad. Plus, even with my crap sewing skills, I polished this girl off in about two hours.

Speaking of Christmas parties, mine will take place in a mere 48 hours! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tree Trimming

As much as I love craftiness and as much as I loooooove Christmas, Aaron and I have very little in the way of Christmas decorations. When we lived in Toronto (which took up the first five years of our marriage) we flew back to Calgary every year, so there was no point in getting a tree or decorating the house. Last year we did a little bit of decorating for our first annual open house, but we seem to have lost anything that we bought last year. So, save for a big and wonderful wind-up snow globe that my brother gave me a few years ago, our stock of jolly decor is lacking. But now that Ruby's old enough to start enjoying Christmas, I'm trying to catch up.

Of course, with funds being of paramount importance (i.e., we're broke), I'm trying to make stuff and do so on the cheap. I saw a really cute garland in the Martha Stewart Homemade Gifts mag where Martha's people cut discs out of old cards (they call them "vintage" -- snort) and use sticky dots to secure them onto string to make a kicky little garland. Easy as pie, no? Well, sort of. I cut up my cards (yes, I save all of my cards and I decided as long as the sender is not now deceased I would allow myself to sacrifice them), but I couldn't find any decent dot stickers, so I just bought some card stock and cut out a bunch of red and green circles. Since the adhesive factor was missing and I was hanging out at my parents' house yesterday (we had a lengthy visit from the electrician so Ruby and I were banished from our own house), I pulled out my Mom's old '70s style glue gun and went for it.

While the glue gun did the trick, I'm afraid I suffered from the most old school of crafter injuries -- the glue gun burn. My dad, who has a tendency to hover when anyone's doing anything in the kitchen, was standing over me, getting hot headed over a story he was telling me about an accident my brother had with a glue gun about 20 years ago. I was just distracted enough to dip my ring finger in a dab of hot glue that I'd just shot onto a disc of card. It... um, hurt. The worst part about a glue burn is the thing that's burning you sticks to your finger and continues burning you until you wipe it off. It killed for about three hours (it took me two to find the courage to pull the dried glob of glue off my finger), but by evening I was able to knit, so all is well.

Either way, I really like the garland. It does have a tendency to tangle up, but I think it's a keeper. And I must say, it looks beautiful on what is the first non-artificial Christmas tree that I've ever had in my life. Happiness has been achieved.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sweet Feet

Okay people... It's December 1st. I can no longer resist blogging about my Christmas projects. If you are a member of my family or a close friend who I may be making a gift for, I'd strongly suggest staying away from this blog until December 25. You too, Leena.

For almost a year now, I've been meaning to make a pair of Sweet Mary Janes. I've always considered Mary Janes (along with ballet slippers) my signature shoe, so I was immediately drawn to these knit slippers. Here's my specs:

Sweet Mary Janes
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Hawaii
Needle: U.S. 7 bamboo DPNs
Mods: none
Comments: I love that because these are knitted in a worsted yarn they're more like a sock than a slipper (which might be knitted in a chunky yarn), but they're way faster to whip up than a regular sock. I did struggle with the crochet, but I'm starting to catch on, so I'm keeping this pair for myself.

The sample in the pattern seems to be knit in Noro (the pattern calls for "any worsted yarn"), which is thicker and sturdier than the Lorna's Laces, so my slippers are a little less structured than they could be. I've already started a second pair, but in Lamb's Pride worsted, which again is substancially thicker than the LL. We'll see how they turn out. Either way, this is a super cute pattern and should make for some good gifts.

In other news, Ruby strapped on her sparkly shoes today for a trip to go see Santa. Despite having to wait an hour (I didn't know that school-aged kids had a day off today) we had a great time and Ruby did not cry on Santa's lap (though she didn't smile either). I ran into an old friend from high school who I haven't seen in over a decade, which was really lovely and not at all weird like it sometimes can be. Here's Ruby showing off her shoes alongside Mummy's Mary Janes.