Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy 8th to Us!

We had our 8th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, but celebrated Monday as well (grin).

On Monday we spent a pleasant day together at home, as (hold your breath) Tom had taken a few days off work! I made brunch for us, then we putzed around the house, periodically reading aloud recipes from the Nigella Lawson cookbook he bought me (I love her - so much less serious than most TV cooks).

By dinner time we were both of a mind to try some of her Asian influenced dishes, so Tom went off on a grocery expedition while I tidied up a bit around the house.

He came home with some of what he wanted, and woggled together something similar to one of her recipes. It was a fine meal, and made finer by the company (awwww). After that, an episode of Firefly on DVD, some MS3 knitting, then bed.

On Tuesday we slept in again (this time with the dog and two cats on the bed, the buggers), then went OUT! If you know me, you know that I'm not one for going out - I prefer the consistency, predictability, and comforts of home. But, in the interest of satisfying Tom's request for a fun day out, we hit Churchill Square for the Taste of Edmonton festival and stuffed ourselves silly.

It was cooler than it has been in weeks, but still more than warm for me (yup, I was the only adult in the huge reflecting/wading pool). Floppy hat and all.

We had parked just through the gate to Edmonton's Chinatown area, and I snapped some pics of decorative details of the gate. I'm thinking applique potential, or at least influence for a quilting pattern. Hmmm.

After all the sun and stuffing, we stopped at River City Yarns (Best. Husband. In. World.) for some acquisition and discussion. Cynthia was terrific, and the store, while small, was full of fun things generally only found on-line. As such a connoisseur of on-line shopping and blog following myself, I was recognizing and oohing and ahhing immediately - and she knew a serious knitter when she heard some of my comments. She immediately cleared off a comfortable chair for Tom, but he had other ideas!

By the time I was done, he had chosen a skein of sock wool Trekking XXL in the charcoal and grey fleck (colour 62) and a skein of Hand Maiden 4 Ply 100% Cashmere (in the mineral colourway) for the pattern on the label - the Devin's Toque. It is a Thomas design, so I think it is appropriate. But jeez, a cashmere toque for a guy who up until now has resisted all my attempts to clothe him in knitted things, except for socks and fingerless gloves?

My choices were a Lantern Moon circular needle holder in a lovely gingery orange silk and a crimson Lantern Moon sock project bag. Oh, and a teeny little three sided silk covered squeezy thing, perfect for holding stitch markers (modeled by Emo, who is hiding his face as he appears to be having a bad face life, not just bad face days).

I also bought the Virginia Van Santen Globe Bowl pattern - they had one made up in the store, and it just looked so neat!

Next we went to one of those enormous Cineplex Odeon theatres and saw an afternoon showing of Hairspray 2007 - which was fun, fun, fun. I so want the sound track!

Of course, the best part about the anniversary was the time with my beloved, and the fact that even after eight years and many pounds, we're still having fun together. Tom, I love you. Happy anniversary, and here's hoping for many, many more.
Us and our parents, July 24th, 1999. It feels like yesterday.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why I Don't Get Much Knitting Done

I try to get knitting done, really. I settle in the knitting chair, with everything I need on the TV tray table on my right, and a glass of water on the end table on my left. I turn on the two daylight bulbs above and to my left, which are arranged so that one shines on my knitting while the other shines on my lap (where the pattern for MS3 generally rests).

Then, just as I'm ready to begin, this happens.

Not sure what you're seeing? How about another view?

I'm joined by Fae (blonde dog) and Emo (grey boy-cat). The fuzzy buggers. Yep, it is hot, I am sweaty, and the two critters on my lap don't help a bit. Not. At. All.

But, with that much cuteness at hand, how can I be annoyed? So, instead of getting knitting done, I'm spending a lot of time giving out the critter loving. Sigh.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Man Socks

Why is it that even the size large sock blockers aren't large enough to block man socks? Tom doesn't even have huge feet! Even so, socks that fit him snugly (about 15% negative ease) still swim around my size L blockers. Must search web for size XL.

Anyway, grumbling aside, here are the latest man socks, LLSS in Cedar. They don't look nearly this, umm, striped, in real life - just a camera thingy. Note the padding under the forward part of the heel, where his sock-wearing history has shown the first signs of serious wear damage. Also, the back part of the heel and ankle are free from patterning, to prevent him from having irritation at the top of his shoes. I live to serve.

Tom thinks they are a bit more stripey than he's comfortable with, but likes the texture and will certainly wear them. However, for future reference, could I please make him socks that are just one colour? Okie dokie Dude. No more Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Nearly Solids for you.

Maybe Trekking Pro Natura sock yarn - nice fingering weight yarn, great hand (25% bamboo content), and solid. In plain, manly colours. I'll start with Chocolate, the only one I have. Then maybe my Shelridge Farms sock yarn in charcoal.

Ugh. I see a lot of cables and texture in my future, just to keep me from going insane with the boring Man Sock knitting.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mystery Stole 3 KAL Update - Clue 2

I love Mystery Stole-ing Along! Not only am I part of what is probably the largest knit-along in web history, but it is also a really interesting project. I download the clues as soon as they come out (yes, I have stayed up all night just to get the clue in the early morning hours, Melanie (the designer/brilliant KAL hostess) having posted at a reasonable time on the East Coast), then get right on with the knitting.

I'm using hand painted Merino Lace Weight from RubySapphire Yarns, in the colour "Cody", which I purchased a year ago with no particular plans in mind. The true colour is richer and has less of the stripe and contrast than that shown in the photo - when it's finished I'll have to take daylight photos.
Instead of using only one colour of beads, I'm using translucent red with a bronze coating for the border, and a cut opaque brown lustre within the patterned portion of the stole.

I having so much fun with the beading that I admit to having gone back and revisited all of the still-virtual (I design in Excel) shawls and stoles I've designed, and adding beads to the patterns. Oy.

So far, I've finished knitting each of the two clues within a few days of them coming out, then spent the rest of the week impatient and not really able to focus on other projects. To alleviate this problem, I've joined another KAL - Goddess Knits' Mystery Shawl Along (version 3). I'm doing this one with heavy yarn and big needles as a break from lace weight, and also because I want a large, enveloping shawl for chilly mornings.

The beer is in the shot for scale, although it was popped and drained shortly after the photo session (it was over 30C in here, and I was thirsty). This is part way through the second clue. The Mystery Shawl 3 KAL is actually finished, so I downloaded all of the clues at the same time.

I'm knitting with 8.0mm (US size 11) needles, using a custom yarn purchased from an E-Bay vendor (SPINCITYARNS), in the gold'n copper colourway. It consists of three different yarns skeined together: a cotton flake yarn, a textured rayon, and a mohair blend. Yummy!

Also on the needles is the second of a pair of socks for Tom. I'm using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport 100% wool in Cedar, and putting a simple knit/purl texture pattern on the upper foot and leg. I'll post photo when they're done.

In the other in-process que: finishing placemats for Dad and Marion, and finishing commissioned wallhanging pattern and sample for local quilt store.

I'm busy. Maybe I should leave the beer out from now on.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On Gifting the Unknown (or, while I'll never be a Secret Pal)

While I was on blog-hiatus, my brother-in-law and his wife had their first child. During the pregnancy, I really wanted to make some gifts for the baby, but found myself unable to do anything more than buy patterns and supplies. After many false starts and lots of frustration, I finally figured out what was wrong: I hadn't met the child yet! I simply could not make a present for someone I didn't know.

So, instead, I made gifts for the people I did know - the parents.

For her, I knitted up my adaptation of two items from Louisa Harding's great book Natural Knits for Babies and Moms: Beautiful Designs Using Organic Yarns. I made the wrap from organic cotton chenille (to provide privacy while breastfeeding in public), and a no-hearts version of the organic cotton nursing sweater. No expense was spared (sorry Tom) - I got the yarns specified in the book. Both projects turned out really well, but of course I don't have photos (duh!).

In addition, I wanted to make a special quilt for the baby. Again, I ran into the same problem - we hadn't met yet. What I did in the end (and I think it was the right decision, based on how well the gifts were received) was make a lap sized quilt for each Mom and Dad, so they could snuggle with the baby with a quilt of their own.

Rhea's quilt is a split nine-patch, with a variety of colours setting out a central design. I chose the border fabric (the check) first, then collected the 12 other fabrics plus the border stripe afterward. This is the first quilt I've ever finished with a lot of different fabrics (14 is really high for me).

I quilted it with two patterns: my points and curls stipple in the center and the wide border, and a fine pebbled texture in both narrow striped borders.

Chris's quilt was made using only two fabrics (excluding backing flannel - the back of both quilts are the same moss green flannel, which goes very well with the colours in their living room). I chose mossy green/gold for him, as it was child-gender-neautral, and as he likes earthy tones. His is a two-block quilt, and was very straightforward to make.

I quilted a gentle curving line cluster filling stitch in the center, leaves in the wide border, and rope in the 1" narrow borders.

The baby was born healthy, happy, and male. He made his arrival at 1:52am on June 3rd, 2007, and weighed in at 7 pounds 1 ounce. Tom and I were there at the birth - not in the room but just outside, so we heard his first cries. He has his Dad's lungs (he's a talker!).

We fell in love immediately, and see him as often as possible. I hope to be a large part of his life, and enjoy just knowing he exists. Personally, I think he is the most beautiful child alive, but I may be a tad biased. Just a bit.

If I get permission from his parents, I will reference him by name, and maybe post his photo, but until then he will simply be referred to as Nephew. Auntie loves him!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back at it

It's apparently time for me to start blogging again. Life has changed a lot since I left off - we moved from Grande Cache to Stony Plain, added a dog (Fae) and a cat (Emo) to the family, and were blessed with a nephew (on June 3rd, 2007). The spouse formerly known as DH is now revealed as Tom, and it was his promotion to Project Manager that required our move (he works in the Edmonton office of his company, now).

I miss my friends from Grande Cache, especially Edie, who was not only the best neighbour in the world, but also a loving and supportive friend. Wednesday afternoons seem lonely to me now - they used to be spent in the company of The Quitters (our "used to quilt, but now we're knitting" group). However, I see my parents more often, and spend a lot of Fridays doing quilt-y things with Mom.

We have a great new house in a pretty neighbourhood, and the Town of Stony Plain is a nice place to live. The view isn't nearly as good, but we could only be so lucky so long. Now instead of looking out on mountains, we have a nice back yard with a great wooden privacy fence, and I can watch the dog gallop about while admiring the enormous peonies (that required no work whatsoever on my part).

Over the next little while I will blog some of the things I've done for the past year or so, but will leave off for now, with a few photos of the new critters. Gotta love them.

She looks so innocent when she's sleeping . . .

Yes, Emo was having a bad face day in this shot. Poor little bugger.