Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pillow Talk

While the Ruby saga is easing up a little bit (though our true test will be tomorrow when she has to go to school), I haven't been in a very crafty frame of mind. Spring tends to bring a lot of busy-ness -- friends to see, trips to take (NYC next month!!!), general stuff to do. But I have been doing a bit of the crafty-crafty -- today I managed to finish off these throw pillows. Regular readers will know that I'm not much of a seamstress, but we needed some pillows for our new couch, which is one of those modern numbers that looks great, but doesn't have those overstuffed arms that make for good head rests when you're stretched out. So I ordered some fabric from good old Reprodepot and whipped up these butterfly cushions. It's a simple pillow, with a button band on the back for easy washing. I'm very pleased.

Also, I wandered on down to Make 1 to spend a gift certificate that's been burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas (I've been knitting from stash and haven't needed to use it -- can you believe it?). I had every intention of buying some yarn to cast on for Flair since i so desperately need a new jacket, but there wasn't a lot of cotton in stock, with winter still in relatively full effect in these parts. Somehow I managed to walk out with a copy of Favourite Socks (yes!) and this giant skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace, which comes with a very easy shawl pattern. I'm not going to tell you how much it cost (um, just in case Aaron is reading this), but it was not cheap, though there is 1250 yards of the stuff here. This picture does not do the colours justice -- it's a beautiful blend of hot pink, mauve and grey yarn. And it'll make a nice lightweight project to take to New York.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Groggy Monday

There's a bit of sleep deprivation going on in our house today. How did I give birth to such a willful and stubborn child? Wait... don't answer that.

Although last night was rocky I did manage to score some time for myself this weekend: dinner out with the girls and a morning of shopping with my friend Mark. While I failed to find a spring jacket at Winners (damn you, trendy trench coats! I want something different and it's just trench, trench, trench everywhere) we did stumble across an awesome moving sale. There was a ton of crafty stuff, but the lady at the sale told us that the contents of the house belonged to her very ill mother, who was being transferred to a care facility. I don't know -- there's something so invasive about garage sales anyway, and I just couldn't bear to take this lady's craft stuff, even though she probably can no longer use it anyway. I don't know if I'd want someone rummaging through my half-used skeins of yarn if I was ailing. It's silly, I know, but it just seemed too personal. If I want to be a hardcore thrifter, maybe it's better not to ask questions.

I did take some books off their hands though, and this little Fire Kind casserole dish. There were mountains of other vintage cook books, including a Better Homes And Gardens library, but I just chose a couple of craft books and some Pilsbury bake books. I already am building a Family Circle Illustrated Library Of Cooking and I didn't think Aaron would appreciate another full set coming home with me. Speaking of which:

I also managed to score some more Family Circle books at the thrift store this week. I'm working my way up to try making that wiener tiara this barbeque season.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Christopher Robin

I have to confess: I haven't felt much like blogging this week because I've been in two-year-old hell with Ruby all week. She's going through this phase where she's throwing constant temper tantrums over silly things (her addiction to Flintstone vitamins and other sweet things and her constant need to wear a party dress at all times are two of the biggest sticking points) and she's also more clingy than ever. Three days in a row she's got booted out of her pre-pre school class because of crying and yelling "I wanna go home, I want Mummy!" It's been hard. She won't let me have a shower, won't hang out with Aaron in the morning so I can sleep in, won't let me out of her sight. So, to remind myself of how much I love her, here she is in the coat she randomly chose to wear today. I think it used to belong to Aaron's uncle Peter, who is now in his 40s. I think she looks like Christopher Robin.

And another one for good measure. Happy weekend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Petit Flower

After seeing all the cute little hats over at Bloggy Baby Bumpers, I went and bought a copy of Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Hats. There's a bit of criticism over this book -- mainly that she uses the same hat form over and over and simply adds embellishments or stripes. While true, there are a lot of good little ideas in this book and seeing as there seems to be an infinite number of babies in my world, I'm glad I picked it up. A girl can only make so many simple umbilical cord hats, right?

I went for what seems to be the most popular hat in the book, the upside-down daisy, intended for my cousin's little gal, who should come along any day now. I used leftover Debbie Bliss wool/cotton (from the fair isle cardigan) and the hat will accompany the Jess Hutch Dolly I made. I like this hat -- the gauge is a little looser than the yarn would like, but since it's a spring baby, it'll be cooler. Also, my petals seem to be shorter and fatter than others I've seen, making the hat look a bit more like an iced cupcake than a flower, but I still think it looks cute.

Speaking of cute, it's been a while since my little dewdrop has made an appearance. Here she is in her raincoat, making a call on her Barbie phone. I think she's talking to my sister-in-law, asking when her new cousin will be here. Hopefully not until I finish the baby blanket, right?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sailing Season

Spring is making a tentative entrance here (though I'm not kidding myself -- there'll be plenty of freak snowfalls well into May), which means it's time to scan the streets for garage sale signs as I drive around on the weekends. I love garage sales. I haven't hit a whole lot of them in recent years since we didn't have a car for most of our time in Toronto and Ruby is just getting old enough to accompany me or stay at home with Aaron while I dig for treasure. I was pretty excited to see a moving sale poster in the hood when we came home from my sister-in-law's birthday party on Thursday, so Friday morning Ruby and I were off for the first sale of the season.

The great thing about our neighbourhood is that it's populated by older people, many of whom want to cash in on the city's super hot real estate market (prices have more than doubled in the last two years -- it's crazy) and move into condos, so they need to get rid of a lot of stuff. The house we went to on Friday was awesome -- an early '60s mod two-level split, inhabited by a woman who very proudly told us she was a great-grandmother. Most of the stuff was inside the house, which meant that we got to see the interior -- it was so cool. I kind of wanted to ask if she'd already sold the house too, but with prices like they are, it was probably going for about half a million dollars. Like I said, crazy.

Anyway, she had plenty of cool old kitchen appliances and furniture, but I promised Aaron I'd stay practical, since he hates the excess stuff in our house. I picked up this great Blue Mountain Pottery vase (we do actually need vases), mostly for the nostalgia factor. Blue Mountain was huge when I was a kid and I fondly remember a pair of ceramic dogs that lived in our living room for most of my childhood (my very non-nostalgic father long ago threw them out). I also couldn't resist this ceramic tray, because of it's overwhelming housewifey-ness. It's got a recipe for Ham Salad on it! I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to actually make ham salad or to serve it on the plate, but a girl can never have enough serving trays.

But, the true treasure was this 1957 issue of Family Circle, which the lady gave to me for the amazing price of absolutely free. Look at the smiling lady and her delicious cake, made completely out of pre-packaged foodstuff. It's a real gem, lots of thoroughly disgusting recipes, a fashion spread, mothering advice... but the ads are the best. My favourite advertises "And my doctor agrees that Jell-o is just the thing for babies" and features a six month old babe eating sugar, food colouring and gelatin. My crafty side wants to carve this thing up, but I think I'm going to leave it as-is for now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

At last...

Dudes. I finally totally buttons and all finished my Fair Isle Cardigan. A very fussy and very finished object. The specs:

Fair Isle Cardigan from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits For Tots
Size: 2-3 yrs
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Wool/Cotton in pretty much every colour it comes in.
Needle: US #3

Here it is. A fair isle cardigan knit in DK yarn. My mods were few, if any, and other than some chart confusion, I didn't have the kinds of problems with the pattern that others have had with some of the sweaters in this book. In the end I think this one falls into the "an experience to knit" rather than the "a joy to wear" category. The inside is neat, but there are a lot of loops and the fair isle and largely cotton yarn makes for a bulky and inflexible fabric. But I have no regrets. It was a challenge to knit, I loved doing it and I feel proud.

Now for the but... I'm sure many of you would love to see a picture of this sweater on the back of a certain two-year old. No such luck. Before it was blocked I tried to get it on Ruby and she screamed saying that it hurt her arms (I think her thumb got caught on one of the loops). Now she looks at it and will declare "Mummy made it for Ruby! My sweater!" but when asked if she wants to try it on she furrows her brow and says "too big." Nice. I'll try to trick her into putting it on so I can get at least one photo of her in the stupid thing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On Hiatus...

...Just for another day or so. I went to a really sweet baby's shower on Sunday and in my attempts to wrangle Ruby and get her out the door for a nap, I left my camera sitting on a side table. But it's probably for the best -- we're completely off in our house this week. Aaron's been out of town (thankfully coming back today) and Ruby is suffering hard from Day Light Savings time. I like the extra bit of sleeping in (though, I should probably put a stop to it if I want her to get back on track), but it's like she's lost any sense of reality. All of the kids in her little classes are behaving so oddly -- I'm telling you, it's not worth the extra sunlight in the evening.

In other me news, my dad was kind enough to take me to the hockey game last night (Ruby kept saying "Mummy and Grandpa go to hoppy game!") where the Flames beat the St. Louis Blues in a very exciting shoot out. There are perks to living in Calgary.

Friday, March 09, 2007

W.I.P. Friday: Hot Socks!

I know, I should be posting photos of the totally finished, totally blocked Fair Isle Cardigan. Here's the thing: I haven't sewn the pocket in or attached the buttons. I know. Part of my lack of motivation is Ruby's utter refusal to even try the thing on: she claims it "hurts." Also, she's been prancing around non-stop in a brown Old Navy hoodie that rarely comes off -- she puts it on over her pyjamas in the morning and I don't think there's any replacing it. That, coupled with her desire to wear party dresses every day (and rain boots) makes for a pretty interesting, but fairly typical, two-year-old wardrobe.

So, since the knitting of the cardigan is done, I cast on a pair of socks yesterday. They're Roza's Socks, as designed by Grumperina for the new issue of Interweave. I'm loving them. I had a couple of stashed hanks of Lorna's Laces' Shepherd Sock in Sassy Stripe on hand, though I'm sure this garish colourway would make poor Grumperina cringe. I like the colour combo -- it reminds me of a blanket my Grandma crocheted for me when I was little, but I'm not totally happy with the lack of striping. Last time I used this yarn (in Fresh Stripe), it was pretty stripey, but I know others have had pooling problems. This just looks like a bit of a mish-mash, but I kind of like it.

And finally, look at the progress on the crocheted blanket! I've been averaging a row a day, which is pretty quick going, now that I've got the technique down (I admit, I was throwing the yarn with my right hand -- I couldn't help it). Ruby has already told me that it's to go in her crib. I'm not sure about that, but hopefully I can get it done in time for the eventual move to a big girl bed.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Return To The Valley Of The Dolls

At last, something I can call a FO! Here's the finished Dolly, from Jess Hutch's Unusual Toys For You To Knit And Enjoy. I love this little gal. She's knit up with Cascade 220 (which is less fuzzy than the recommended Lamb's Pride -- though that can be quite nice too) on US 8 needles (though, she is a little loose -- but I wanted her to be a decent size). I have a big box of Cascade in about eight colours that I always use for making these toys -- it's like a little box of paint that I can use whenever the fancy strikes me.

Here's Dolly with the other Jess Hutch creations that we still have kicking around at home: Squarey and Kate. I must say, I really love this doll, other than my all-time fave, Spherey, I think she's my favourite. I really like her basic body -- I have visions of making more of them in the style of Russian stacking dolls and just skipping the arms and legs. I do love the dress too -- I hope that the baby that this is intended for has a lot of fun with her as she grows older.

Speaking of favourites though, Ruby has already claimed Dolly as her own -- I'll have to hide it while she's sleeping and hope she forgets about it. The toys I make for her she couldn't care less about, but the gifts are so enticing even if she doesn't know it's not for her. Speaking of which, I'll have FO photos of the Fair Isle Cardigan once I can actually get the thing on the kid. Because it's for her, she's refusing to wear it. Nice.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: Online Tools Week #1

I've gotta admit -- I'm not in love with this month's SPC theme. Online tools are not really my thing, I much prefer organic cut 'n' paste forms of expression. I mean, it took me years to give in and finally get a digital camera -- I liked the thought of using film too much to give it up. Anyway, I did find that the Scribbler tool was kind of fun and mesmerizing to watch, so I made this little drawing of my own self.

Other than procrastinating by sitting in front of the computer, our little family had a nice weekend. Lots of visiting with the grandparents, a nice trip to the park to play in the snow and a super short wait to get into one of our favourite breakfast joints (where the line is usually about 45 minutes long! Undoable with a two-year-old) made it a relaxing one. Oh, we also watched Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and The Big Chill. We're not into partner-swapping (um, not in the least, thank you), but somehow that's where our mail-order movie chips fell this weekend. Weird.

Friday, March 02, 2007

W.I.P. Friday: Hello Dolly!

The Fair Isle Cardigan is in its final stages, Stars and Hearts Blanket is about 3/4 done and the crochet afghan is growing by about a row per day. So, here's the first look at the newest project, another Jess Hutch design. This little Dolly is a gift for my cousin's baby girl, who is due sometime this month. I think the toy/hat combo has become my signature baby gift, and since I've been assured that the babe is a little lady, I thought I'd take the opportunity to knit up Dolly from Jess' Unusual Toys For You To Knit And Enjoy.

I must say, so far at least, this is my favourite of all the Hutch toys I've made (and there have been, ahem, a few). So much so, that I'm contemplating keeping her, or making another for myself. Legs and arms should be finished up in a couple days, so I'll give you a full run-down on the Dolly then.