Friday, February 27, 2009

February: 365

I'm still up to no good with the 365 project. Happily, not a single day has been missed in February (so far, I guess there's still time to fall off the wagon). I admit that some days it's challenging to take a picture that's not of my kids' faces, and some days I just wish that I hadn't started this, but I think it's worth it. As you can see, not all of my pictures are stellar, but I do think I need a daily creative exercise to prevent me from going totally insane.

Speaking of which, February is a pain in the neck, is it not? Holy crap, this month has been a drag. The kids are particularly difficult, I feel cooped up, and Aaron is stressed to the hilt. March is going to be totally crazy for us (hint: kitchen reno), but at least it will be interesting.

And, here's a photo that didn't make it in time to go in the above mosaic... the cutest baby shoes ever on the cutest baby feet ever. Henry is still a couple weeks away from his first birthday, but he can manage a few unassisted steps at a time and often manages to walk all the way across the room. I think I have a couple weeks left before crawling is a distant memory.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

For The Aunties

There are few people in this world that Ruby loves as much as Aaron's sister, Auntie Daniella. It's not surprising: Daniella is one of the most loving and lovable people that you could ever meet. So, for her birthday next week, we wanted to make something special.

Enter the second in my series of Ruby-drawn pillows. Like the Grandma Pillow, this is adapted from the very basic Farmgirl Pillow from Alicia Paulson's Stitched In Time. I used some leftover American Jane Building Blocks fabric that I bought ages ago from Repro Depot and some vintage seersucker that I had lying around. The seersucker was a bit of a pain to sew, but I got the pillow case constructed in about half an hour, which means it is ridiculously easy, since I am a bit of a challenged sewer.

So, there you are. The drawing is awesome -- from left to right you've got Daniella's girlfriend Erin, their dog Jenny, and the birthday girl herself. It's kind of funny -- in real life, Erin is not twice as tall as Daniella (in fact, she's probably smaller), Jenny is a giant of a dog, and Daniella does not have curly hair (though Ruby always draws her this way). It think they're going to love it. I sure do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back Pages

Remember the knitted book I started for Henry in, er, June? I finished the last page this weekend! I'll post more about this once it's an officially finished item, but for now I'll just say that I remember why I don't do more intarsia (or colourwork in general). I don't like doing it. And look at all these ends!

In other news, I did not do well in my Oscar pool last night. Not even close. It didn't help that the only nominated movies I saw this year were Frozen River, The Visitor, Vicky Christina Barcelona, (all on DVD), The Class (nominated in Foreign Language) and Kung Fu Panda (which I actually saw in the theatre). Anyway, I'm not $50 richer this morning, but I am feeling happy for Kate Winslet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Judging A Book By The Shelf

My favourite thing about looking through candid photos, old or new, is looking at the details. What dishes were on the table at my Grandparents early dinner parties? What did the wine bottle labels look like at my parents' 1983 New Years Party? What was on the newspaper sitting on the side table in the hospital the day Ruby was born?

I think the things we have lying around tell more about us than our faces in snapshots and I think books are always a good indicator of where a person's head is at a particular time and place. Aaron and I both have little side tables beside our bed and I often laugh at the difference between the books that are on his side vs. those on mine. I think we're generally a good fit, but the contrast between my love of bad pop culture and his more serious political interests are particularly illustrated by our bedtime reading material.

As you can see from the top picture, I have an indie-rock bio, a collection of '90s music journalism, some novels (one good, one quite crappy) and, uh, Stephanie Meyers. Aaron has a bio of Hunter S. Thompson, a book about Libertarianism, The Tipping Point, and, for some reason, a map of London. I think it's particularly funny that my Twilight sequel and his Radicals for Capitalism are in the same spot on the pictures.

Oh, and here's Ruby's bookcase. I don't know if you can see how many princess books are on there, but that's an indication of where she is these days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Would You Do With 10 Skeins Of Hot Pink Mohair?

That's the question of the day. Back in those early days of knitting, when I was all in love with the idea of knitting everything under the sun but had no idea of what I was doing when it came to yarn purchasing or anything like that, I bought 10 skeins of hot pink vintage Bernat Mohair Plus on ebay. Yeah, I know, real bright. It's been taking up real estate in my relatively small stash space for about five years now and I've been wasting brain power trying to figure out what the heck to do with it (other than donate it to the Sally Ann -- that would be letting the mohair win).

I tried using it for the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, but it's way too thick -- at least three times thicker than a lace weight mohair. Plus it's itchy. A few weeks ago I knit up the above piece of material... lets call it a scarf... but again, way too itchy to wear. So what do you do with 10 skeins of hot pink mohair? Any input would be more than welcome.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Happy Family Day to those of you who live somewhere where such a thing exists. We're enjoying a lazy day off, reading books and listening to The Beatles. And playing with Playmobile (that's a given).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pillow Talk

I can't even tell you how long I've been dreaming of collaborating with Ruby on a project like this. This little pillow is a birthday gift for my mom, featuring artwork drawn by a certain Miss Ruby and embroidered by myself. The picture is a portrait of my mom (which suspiciously looks a lot like Roo's portrait of Obama). I love it. Love it. Love it.

For the actual pillow construction, I used the template for the Farm Girl Pillow from Alicia Paulson's Stitched In Time. I had thought about doing a photo pillow for my mom, but I'm not too crazy about the printed on fabric photo look and I didn't have a photo that seemed perfect. So, I got Ruby to draw up the picture and got to work.

Following my resolutions, I didn't have to buy anything to make this, except the pillow form. The fabric is left over from my lap quilt (which is still, uh, unfinished) and from my soon-to-be-retired kitchen curtains (there's a renovation coming... I'm in denial). It was super easy and the actual pillow construction took no more than an hour or so. This was so easy and so much fun, I already have another edition in the works. Ruby and I make beautiful craft together -- I can hardly wait to see what happens as her skills grow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sock Feet

I actually finished knitting these about a week ago, but with all this computer business, I didn't get around to posting. Viola! Les socks!

As I mentioned, I got this ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock for Christmas and, having never used it before, I wanted a pattern that called for this yarn specifically. So, I went for Glenna's So Simple Silk Garden Socks, which is available for free on Ravelry. I used a US 3 needle (a tiny bit bigger than the pattern called for) and they knit up really easy and really fast. As I've mentioned before, I find this yarn totally mesmerizing and I became quickly addicted to watching the colours change.

I'm very happy with the finished product. They remind me of a store-bought pair of "home-spun" Hue socks I have and love. They're totally fraternal and while I don't really love these kind of transitional colour patterns in general, I like these. Also, the yarn is a little too thick to wear under shoes, so I'll probably use them more as slippers than regular socks. Which is nice, because it's cold in this house sometimes, but I like to tread lightly so as to not wake up any wee nappers.

Finally, this marks my first attempt at cables. I've always been afraid of cables, which I now realize is ridiculous. They're so easy and fun. Try them if you haven't.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cautionary Tale

I'm interrupting the usual program of craft and thrift for a public service announcement. I am terrible about backing up my computer. When I had a desktop, I never backed up. When Aaron bought me my laptop last year for Christmas, he also got us an external hard-drive, so we could both back up and protect our precious data. Despite the fact that I have all of my work archived on my laptop, plus works in progress and, more importantly than anything, ALL of the photos of my children, I rarely plug in to that hard-drive. Regularly I get messages like "You have not backed up this computer in 150 days." I shrug, laugh and ignore it.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. On Thursday, after watching a clip on YouTube and doing the hundredth email check of the day, I closed my computer and heard a weird clicking noise. I opened 'er back up and couldn't wake it up. So I restarted. Bad news -- rather than rebooting, I got a blank screen with a file folder in the middle and a question mark in the middle of the file folder. I knew it couldn't be good. A quick google search on my parents' computer confirmed that my hard drive was fried.

This story could be a tragedy, but... for reasons I will never understand, I backed up the night before the big crash. I don't know why, I just had an overwhelming feeling that I better do it, so I did. Maybe it's because I had just uploaded the photos from Ruby's birthday from my camera and I didn't want to lose them. Maybe it's my psychic blood (my great-grandmother was a fortune teller, but that's another story that I've already told). Either way, the pictures of the kids are safe, my novel in progress is safe and I'm $200 less rich, but I can deal with that. And I can deal with backing up at least once a week for the rest of my life.

So please, back up your computer. End of public service announcement.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Groundhog? What Groundhog?

One doll down, another project already started! I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling uncannily productive this week, despite the stress surrounding a major renovation project. I'm blaming it on the faint whiff of spring that's in the air. This comes as a bit of a delusional denial, since I know that we have at least another stretch of weather in the -20s on the way. It's inevitable. But still, spring is in my heart this week, so I'm willing to go with it.

And in my heart, spring also means thrifting. I hit a decent estate sale last week that netted me a pair of lamps (that were passed on to one of Aaron's co-workers) and this amazing pressed-glass bowl and plate set, which I've already used to serve salad. It's Anchor Hocking, in the Sandwich pattern (thanks for the ID, Flickr glass people!). Henry and I also made a little jaunt to the thrift stores today (the weather was so nice, we couldn't just stay inside) and I scored some Blue Mountain pottery to add to my collection. Don't tell my husband, I don't want to get in trouble.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I had a really special moment with Ruby the night before her birthday. I don't usually put her to bed anymore, but Aaron was out with friends that night. She chose Goodnight Moon as her bedtime book, which thrilled me, because although we read it every single night from the time she was one and a half until she was three, we haven't picked it up in nearly a year. I read the sweet words to her (still pretty much by memory) and gave her a kiss. As I was tucking her in, she said "Mama, when I wake up, will I be four?" I smiled and said yes, and she smiled back and closed her eyes to go to sleep.

In the morning, she bounded into our room saying "Mama, Daddy, am I FOUR now?" "Am I a big kid now? Are my clothes still going to fit? Now that I'm four, I can watch spooky movies! But I still don't like mustard!" In Ruby's mind, mustard is a food for big kids and grown ups. But even at her now advanced age, she wants nothing to do with it.

As I've mentioned before, every year I make Ruby a doll for her birthday. It started with Kate, then the Wee Wonderfuls Put-Together Kitty, and last year the Ruby Doll (who has since been renamed Martha). This year I finally made the Rag Doll from Amy's Mailorder #8. She turned out exactly as a rag doll should -- completely wonky. My sewing machine stopped cooperating with me towards the end, and I'd procrastinated so long on finishing the doll, I didn't have time to try to figure out what was wrong, so I just kept chugging along. But, since it was a rag doll, I wasn't too worried.

As keeping with my crafty resolutions, I barely had to buy any supplies to put Raggedy together. The dress and pinafore fabric is from the vintage fabric sale I went to last year, and the hair was from the stack of fat quarters I bought ages ago to make my Wee Wonderful Olive and Archie dolls. The only thing I had to buy was the muslin for the doll's body, which I tea dyed (hence, learning a new skill!) so it would look a little more flesh-toned. I didn't dye the muslin for the bloomers, which are stark white.

I'm not too crazy about the face, but in general, I think this doll is awesome. And Ruby loves it. She asked me before her birthday if I was going to make her a doll and told me that she loves it when I make her things. So, even if I think it's a little wonky, the person who really matters thinks it's just perfect.

Monday, February 02, 2009

January, 365

As I've mentioned, I'm trying to do the 365 thing this year (you know, where you take a picture every day for a full year). I started a few days late due to the death of my old camera and the delay in getting the new one, but I've been chugging along since then. Some days, especially in these dreary wintery times, inspiration has been difficult, but I think as the year progresses, the photos will become more interesting.

Above is a mosaic of some of my January pictures. You can see my 365 set here and also visit the pool I'm in (note: this is by no means the only or the largest 365 pool on Flickr. It's just the one I'm in).

I'm having some computer issues, so hopefully I'll be back with some doll pictures tomorrow. Wish me luck!