Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tea (Towels) For Two

Somehow I've had more to blog about these days than I've had time to blog. Don't expect this to continue -- my craftiness seems to come in waves. After a year or so of moaning about how I wanted to dive into some embroidery projects, I finally cracked into the Sublime Stitching kit that I bought at a closing out sale about two years ago. I don't know why it took me so long -- this is such an easy and relaxing craft (at least at the rudimentary level I'm taking it to) and makes for such great gifts. I thought I'd start with the obligatory tea towels, to be sent off to a dear friend for her birthday.

Being the rock 'n' roll kind of gal I am (yeah, as if), I started off with Jenny Hart's flying vee guitar, which was fun because of the numerous french knots. I also stitched my friend's name on there, which has been covered up to protect the innocent. I also whipped up the pretty kitty, with "bewitching" stitched beside her, because said friend is certainly a bewitching kind of girl. Anyway, not much to say, but I think I've been struck by the embroidery bug. I have plans for the Wee Wonderful Stitchettes next -- hopefully I won't take another year to get my iron out and do the transfers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sassy Like Me

I think I've mentioned it before, but since reading the book How Sassy Changed My Life, I've completely renewed my obsession with Sassy Magazine. In 1988 (age 13) I stumbled on the very first issue of Sassy and I immediately fell in love. I was a bit of a misfit kid -- I liked make-up and fashion and boys and celebs well enough, but everything I liked was about 15 degrees off. By the time I reached, oh, my late 20s, I perceived my quirks as coolness, but as a kid I felt weird. Others felt I was weird too. The editors at Sassy, though, did not think my kind was weird. They thought girls like me were worthy of a teen magazine of our own.

I won't go into why Sassy was so awesome -- you either are a Sassy fan yourself and know why, or you weren't the kind of girl who read the magazine, so nothing I say will convince you (or, you were too old/too young, in which case I give my apologies for these ramblings). All I'll say is that the magazine totally validated my fragile early teen existence and that I SO wanted to be Christina Kelly and pretty much was for the 10 years that was my pre-baby career.

But, every young teenager turns into an older teenager who is embarrassed by her former self. So, once I moved onto British music mags as my periodical of choice, I threw out most of my Sassys. Threw 'em right out. I somehow had the foresight to keep four issues: a random early '90s issue, the much-coveted Kurt And Courtney issue, the Sassiest Boy In America Issue (on a side note, I once interviewed said Sassiest Boy about one of his musical projects and I could barely control myself. He later asked for my email address and it was probably the most spectacular moment of my "I Wanna Be Christina Kelly" working existence), plus, for reasons beyond me, the first post-NYC issue, which is a piece of trash.

Shortly after reading the book, I went a little crazy on eBay and bought six issues from 1988 and 1989 -- they arrived in the post today. I really want to collect some more, but I think I'll have to keep my eye on unwitting garage sale proprietors -- I can't afford to keep eBaying. In the meantime I'll pore over the 10 issues I had and remember the girl I once was while reflecting on the woman I've become. Sigh.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Going Against The Flow

Howdy to those visiting from Sockapalooza and regards to regular readers as well. So, I'm sure you're all waiting to hear what happened after the great Go With The Flow Vs. Undulating Rib debate of last week. Okay, maybe not, but I'll tell you anyway. My sock pal will be getting a pair of...

Go With The Flow socks! I'll admit it, I was leaning towards these ones anyway because I love simple lace patterns and I love the stretchy-ness of ribby socks. Also as pretty as the Undulating Rib socks are, I was freaked out that the pattern calls for U.S. #4 needles for ultra fine yarn. To me that's just crazy. But, so many of you spoke up on behalf of the Undulating Ribs that I actually started knitting one of each (I suppose some would call this swatching). I couldn't bear using a #4 so I went down to a #3, but the weave was still just too loose for my liking and it would have been too small if I dared to go down to a #2. So, here you have it: Go With The Flow.

I do really like this pattern. A lot of lacy socks don't have the give that I like so much (especially when knitting for an unfamiliar foot), but there's a rib built in here that does the trick. The Lorna's Laces is pooling a wee bit, but in fairly uniform diagonal stripes, so I don't think it's fatal. I'm pretty much done the leg now, hoping to move onto the heel tonight if I don't fall asleep immediately after putting Ruby to bed. Everyone's been sick around here, so that's a distinct possibility.

Moving on, what I've gained this week in socks, I've lost in trees. Check out the view from my window this morning:

Actually, this doesn't do my 7:30 a.m. view justice, as a lot of the snow had melted before I got the camera out. Yes, it freakin' snowed here last night. And it broke my tree. My tree. Is broken. This really breaks my heart. I'm hoping that if we cut that branch off the old girl will survive... does anyone know if she's going to need any extra care and what I can possibly do to help her make it through this injury?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Book Review: The Cute Book

I must say, I was pretty excited about Aranzi Aronzo's The Cute Book. Before I saw the book online, I wasn't that familiar with the whole kawaii craze. But then a gaggle of Aranzi Aronzo kitties showed up on the cover of Craft Magazine and I started reading about these little guys on the blogs and boom, I was hooked. So, I was pretty pleased to get my hands on this book, which is an English translation of the Japanese patterns.

Basically the book is full of instructions on how to make over a dozen different "felt mascots." There are bunnies and sheep and monkeys and slightly more sinister little guys like Bad Guy and Liar. They're all pretty basic and very very small -- generally meant to hang off of your bag or on a keychain.

Anyone used to Western craft books might be a little weirded out by the book -- the instructions for making these mini-toys are as wacky as the little mascots themselves, which is why I love the book so much. Each little dude has his or her own personality description, which will appeal to anyone addicted to the idiosyncrasies of Japanese pop culture. The book is small and super colourful -- so much so that Ruby has spent huge periods of time leafing through it herself. In fact, she's claimed it as her own and keeps pulling it off my shelf to put it with her own kids books.

Of course, I've already tried my hand at making one of these little guys -- I thought I'd start simple and make the Bear (shown next to my favourite tea cup for scale). It was fun and fairly easy -- though I'm thinking that such miniature crafting isn't necessarily my forte (note how wonky his face is). I'm pleased with the end result, but I didn't really enjoy putting this guy together as much as I like, say, knitting or embroidery, so I'm not sure how many Aranzi Aronzo mascots will be populating my craft room. That said, I'm dying to make the Liar, my favourite character in the book.

Speaking of which, the Aranzi Aronzo people have already put out a companion book The Bad Book, which features stories of the Bad Guy, often in heated battle with the Liar. It's really fun, and although not really craft related per say, a must have. I think there are a bunch more Aranzi Aronzo story books on the way, so if I do end up making more of these guys, I'll be able to play along.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Viva Le Weekend

It was a long weekend here in Canada. It rained and snowed and briefly sunshined and it was glorious. Our petite family: ate a lot of BBQ; visited a lot of babies and toddlers (shout outs to Anita, Caleb, Edie and Simon); all got sick (on different days!); got addicted to Facebook (well, just the parents, but mostly me -- poor, poor nostalgic me); didn't do a lick of gardening; tried to go to a small town parade (thwarted by snow); spent time with family; ate more BBQ.

Very nice. Now we're all recovering with stuffy noses, sore throats and upset stomachs. Sometimes pushing yourself is worth it, though.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Should I Rib Or Should I Flow

I'm a girl who likes the idea of community. I spent much of my day conferring with other mothers about various issues involving the womenfolk and it made me feel good. I also am way into this Sockapalooza Pligg thing: what a great little community. And nothing gives a girl an ego boost like strangers interested in her socks!

Anyway, if you haven't seen the yarn I chose for my pal, it's here. Now it's time to pick a pattern. I'm dedicated to doing something from Favourite Socks since I bought the thing ages ago and haven't knit a single pair of socks. I know the variegated Lorna's Laces yarn would overwhelm a pattern with too elaborate a lace pattern like Embossed Leaves or Waving Lace, so I want to do something with a smaller all-over repeat. Here are my candidates:

Go With The Flow Socks by Evelyn A. Clark. An easy, but very pretty textural lace pattern. It's also stretchy, so it'll be more likely to fit the foot of a stranger (no Cinderella glass slippers here, thank you very much). I think it'll look nice with a variegated yarn and the heel and toe aren't too wacky or square or pointy looking.


Undulating Rib Socks by Ann Budd. Again, it's a rib, so there should be some stretch. Not as open or lacey, but a very interesting texture. And perhaps more conducive to the variegated yarn.

So, I think I know which one I'm leaning towards (though I've tried to remain objective here). Any thoughts out there? Any of you who've knit either of these and have something to say?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Blanket For A Babe

Do you ever suspect that your knitting can affect fate? I do. When I heard (on Thanksgiving Day) that my sister-in-law was pregnant with the baby that would transform me magically into an aunt, I knew I had some serious knitting to do. Serious. It was time to do a baby blanket.

So, I bought my yarn and cast on a few days before Christmas. I finished knitting about a month ago and, in my typical fashion, didn't block it until this weekend. So, what happened on the day that it was finally dry and thus, officially finished? Three weeks early, the baby decided it was his birthday.

Hearts And Stars Blanket from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits For Tots
Yarn Misti Alpaca Worsted in Pumpkin (about 5 hanks, I think...)
NeedleU.S. 6 (again, I think... memory fading)
Mods Gauge, since the pattern calls for a DK cotton. Because of that I did five rows of pattern repeats rather than seven. Since the pattern is intended as a family blanket, not crib blanket, I think I would have modified the size even if it knit up in the recommended gauge.

So, there you have it. Leena (my amazing mother-in-law) made this same blanket for the baby of a family friend a couple of years ago and I noticed that she paused when I told her I was planning it for the baby and that I'd already dove into it. She later confessed that it was a very long knit. I'm glad I went for a bigger gauge and less repeats, because as fun as the bumpy purled hearts and stars were, this was a looooooong one. I worked on it fairly regularly and it ended up being about five months of knitting. But I think it looks great. The yarn is like butter -- it's so soft and beautiful. I just hope that the baby isn't a particularly messy little thing, otherwise my sister-in-law is going to have to rename me "your Auntie who seems to think that it's okay to knit a hand-wash-only blanket for an infant." But, I just couldn't resist the yarn and I've successfully convinced myself that as a heirloom item, handwash yarn is okay.

Anyway, loads of pictures here -- since it took me so long I want to bask in its glory. I added a picture of it on Ruby's bed for scale (it's a pretty huge baby blanket -- hopefully it'll follow the little tike though childhood) plus a presentation of it folded up with the matching pumpkin hat. Enjoy it, little one.

Omg. I'm an Auntie.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Socking It To The Palooza

Yikes, sorry for the weird post title -- it's been a long day. I don't know if I mentioned it, but I'm participating in this year's Sockapalooza sock swap. A lot of those Sockapaloozers are pretty hot to trot -- if you check the Pligg, many of them are well on their way to completing their socks. Feeling like a slacker, I ventured out to buy my yarn today.

They had nice crop of sock yarn down at Make 1, but despite my pull towards the Opal, I felt the need to go with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock again. Here's why: the last two pairs of socks I made were with this yarn so I'm very comfortable with the gauge and having to tweak for my partner's foot size. Also, some people in blogland have expressed a difficulty coming across the stuff in their own LYS, so I wanted to share the LL love. Plus I just like the stuff.

My partner expressed an interest in earth tones and a disinterest in anything that looks like baby yarn, so I chose Mixed Berries, which I'm afraid looks much brighter in ball form as it did as hanks. Unfortunately, they were down to only one hank in the colours that would have been perfect. so I'm hoping the brown in the berry will temper the purples. But, the yarn should suit my tastes a bit too right? Any good gift does.

Anyway, I'll have to choose a pattern (probably something from Favourite Socks) and then I'll start 'er up. I'm a little nervous knitting for a foot I don't know. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 14, 2007

New York State Of Mind

This month's SPC theme is On The Street, a celebration of street photography, so I thought I'd combine my contribution with some notes on my recent trip. Here I am, just off of 14th street, meeting Aaron before heading out to dinner. I love the street action aspect of this photo (the fruit stand, the phone, the New York-ness) even if I look a bit grumpy. This was taken near the end of our trip, after I'd spent a full day shopping, mostly on foot. Hence the lack of colour in my face.

So, anyway, the trip, which now seems so long ago, was divine. As Aaron and I often do, our trip largely centered around eating -- I made it my mission to eat as many cupcakes from as many cupcake bakeries as possible (I made it to Magnolia, Buttercup and Sugar Sweet Sunshine -- the latter's pistachio cupcake being my absolute favourite, since I found Magnolia's buttercream to be just a little too intense. I ended up abandoning my chocolate cupcake halfway through). We also went up to Harlem for roti, down to the East Village for Moroccan, the Village for Cuban and also for Mexican, plus to Katz' deli for some pastrami (closest thing to a Montreal deli outside of Montreal, if you ask me).

We also did some things other than eat: felt like proud Canadians at the Jeff Wall retrospective at Moma, saw Bjork at Radio City Music Hall, Kevin Spacey on Broadway, bought shoes and dresses and shampoo. Best of all, I didn't feel total maternal angst from being apart from Ruby and I can hardly wait to travel somewhere fun again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Word To The Mothers

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there. Our MD has been a bit rocky -- Ruby walked into our room at about 5:30 this morning covered in vomit. She'd eaten a ton of Asian pork dumplings last night and I don't think they sat very well. After a dunk in the bath (it was one of those barfs that got all over her hair and into her ears) and a change of pjs she slept for another few hours in our bed and seemed fine when she woke up. But, by the time we got to the fancy restaurant we took Aaron's parents to for brunch, she was passing out on the table and running a tiny fever. She's in bed now and I'm quietly freaking out, a little irrationally fearing food poison (which would have kicked in a little more full-force by now, I'm thinking). I'm hoping she's just over tired from a night of stomach upset. Okay...

Anyway, I treated myself to some gorgeous clothes by Sabrina Butterfly Designs yesterday at a local craft show: a couple of cute tops and a pair of really wide linen cropped pants. Very nice. Do check her out if she does a show in your area. And for my mom, I baked the chocolate chip angel food cake that you see above. The glaze is a little haphazard, but I'm hoping for deliciousness.

Okay, back to worrying about my boo. Wish us luck.

Friday, May 11, 2007

W.I.P. Friday: Shawl Therapy

Today was haircut day and I'm feeling like the new haircut (for Ruby, not me -- I weirdly like to grow it in the summer so I can wear it up) is ushering the summer. A friend of a friend commented the other day that Ruby looked like a mini Courtney Love. While I love La Love more than I probably should, I don't necessarily want my two-year old emulating her. So, I knew it was time for a cut.

So, crafts. I've been so irritatingly lazy. Except when it comes to my pie-wedge shawl. Ah, sweet garter stitch. I got though a big section of this while flying last week and this week I have a pile of movies to review for an upcoming film festival (the local queer film fest -- somehow I seem to have etched a career out of reviewing movies about transgendered people, curiously enough), so the garter stitch is just what the doctor ordered. I figure that by the time I get though a couple more gay and lesbian documentaries, plus the season finale of Top Model next week, this baby should be almost finished. Then I can start on my Sockapalooza socks. Once I buy the yarn, that is.

My other big W.I.P. is my garden. I don't have a green thumb. I have a lot of garden. How do you tell the difference between a weed and the start of a gorgeous perennial? Ugh.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mailbox Love

Oh, the mail has been good to me this week. It's always nice to return from a trip (which to me, always feels a little lonely) and then have your mailbox filled in the following days. One of my favourite bloggers, the lovely Ms. P announced some time ago that she was moving house and needed to rid herself of some fabric. She very kindly send me this stack of fabrics all the way from the U.K., keeping in mind my and Ruby's mutual love of pink (P has a daughter with the same girly affliction). She sent some really lovely pieces and I'm hoping they'll provide the inspiration I need to finally return to my poor neglected sewing machine. Thanks, P!

Then, I was so touched to see a little mother's day treat from my dear friend Sam, who, along with the other members of my old mother's group, is one of the reasons that I so sorely miss Toronto. She managed to find this little packet of Holiday Recipes, published in 1950 by the Michigan Consolidated Gas Co. The great thing about these cards is that they seem to predate the processed food craze of the '50s, so there's no condensed cream of mushroom soup or jello required. In fact, they're not only fun to read, but I really foresee myself making a lot of these things. Thanks, Sam, there'll be some Apricot Dainties in the mail for you before Xmas.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Book Review: Whining And Dining

Ah, back from the big city. I'll go into how wonderful and blissful and amazing my trip was another day -- Aaron's still out east (gets back tonight) and has the camera, so no photos. Instead, today I'll launch something new over here at Elizaboothy... book reviews.

So, here goes. I've decided to start peppering these pages with the odd book review -- probably mostly crafts, but today I've got a cooking/parenting book for you. It's Whining And Dining by Emma Waverman and Eshun Mott. I really wanted to pick up this book because Miss Ruby -- who used to count asparagus as her favourite food, followed closely by broccoli -- is the pickiest eater in the world. Pizza? Yes. Grilled cheese or peanut butter? Sure. Macaroni or pasta with tomato sauce? Usually. Anything else? No way.

So, Whining And Dining is a guide/recipe book for parents of picky eaters. The book itself is really fun -- the writing is cute and conversational and the pictures (which are of the authors' actual children eating actual veggies) really pop. It's funny and as a very frustrated mum, it made Ruby's situation seem so much more normal -- kind of like sitting around and gabbing with a mother's group. In addition to the main text and the recipes, there are loads of sassy little tips sprinkled throughout.

Now, the recipes. To be fair, I started trying these the week before I went to NYC and I did do some substitutions that weren't really that wise. I tried the chicken curry and a tuna and tomato pasta and... they weren't a success, either with the Roo or with Aaron. Still, there are a lot of others I want to try for dinner, as well as some good baking ideas. There's also a really clever chapter on party food that I look forward to trying once the occasion arises.

So, the long and the short of it is: an entertaining book with recipes that may or may not suit your tastes. Emma Waverman is the daughter of Canadian recipe master Lucy Waverman, so I know she's got good taste in food, I just have to explore further to see if these recipes work for me and more importantly, if they get some healthy goodness into my picky princess. Stay tuned.

Update: Tonight we had the Pad Thai from the book for dinner. It is one of the most delicious things I've ever cooked. We're never getting Thai take-out again. Even Ruby ate some -- in fact, she picked out and ate the chicken from the leftovers after she tired of her noodles. Hooray!