Saturday, 30 June 2007
This week, I used up some bits and pieces to make four more hats, none from patterns, just made up as I went along...
The top two are made from Bernat Softee Chunky, the cream one is some acrylic I picked up at a thrift shop this week, and the red one at bottom right is made from TLC Wiggles in red and yellow. Here's what it looks like opened out...
Odd, eh! It's reversible and double thick when worn. You just push one colour inside the other to wear it. Below is my 9 year old son modelling it with a goofy face - it's a bit small for him though. The circumference is 19 inches and the depth is 6.5 inches.
Here's the pattern - I made it up so there are no copyright issues!
TLC Wiggles (acrylic) yarn, two colours, one ball of each
US #6 or 4mm circulars (16 inch length) and dpns
My gauge was 5 stitches/inch
Cast 90 stitches (using the long tail method) on to the circular needles, join and knit in the round until your work measures 5 inches. I use the position of the yarn tail hanging off the bottom of my work to keep track of complete rounds, but it might be a good idea to place a marker at the beginning of the round for the decreasing part. Change to double pointeds when there aren't enough stitches to fit comfortably on the circulars.
Decrease for crown -
*K8, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K7, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K6, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K5, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K4, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K3, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K2, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K1, K2tog; rep from * to end of round
*K2tog; rep from * to end of round
Cut the yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail, thread it onto a blunt darning needle, run the needle through all the stitches clockwise, pull up, take the needle down through the centre and knot off on the inside.
Now using the second colour, go to your cast on edge and pick up 90 stitches all around. This is done by inserting the tip of the circular needle under the two strands of the cast on, wrapping the yarn around and proceeding as if to knit. Make sure you go into every stitch (with hindsight, it might be better to knit with the lighter coloured yarn first to make it easier to pick up for the second half of the hat).
Continue to knit all stitches until you have 5 inches in the second colour. Then decrease for the crown exactly as before and fasten off. Hide the yarn tail inside.
This is a great way to make a warm hat which is neatly finished, as the yarn tails and wrong side of your work are completely hidden!
Friday, 29 June 2007
The roses above are probably my favourites - despite the fact the background canvas was never stitched in. I imagine this piece was destined to become a chair cushion, like many others she had done in needlepoint.
This vibrant piece awaits a frame as I intend to honour her memory by displaying her handiwork and enjoying such reminders of her.
This windmill scene makes me laugh, because it is so like Gram. I think I've seen this same scene in a oil paint-by-numbers kit she did. I'm not quite sure what the attraction was to this particular scene with its simplistic palette and rendering. It does make me smile though.
This kit was one of Gram's unfinished ones that I undertook to complete. It was part of a set, with the other being roses which I also completed. I had my husband build a frame for the rose piece and gave it as a gift to his grandma Rose, at least a decade ago. I guess I should do the background on this piece so that I can either frame it or turn it into a pillow.
I have other meaningful pieces to share with you another time. (Hoping I haven't bored you to tears with my trip down memory lane...) I am so happy to have the memories and mementos from a woman who meant so very much to me.
Thursday, 28 June 2007
This is it all, excluding the bits left over from previous projects and the yarn currently being used in WIPs. Some of the yarn has a project in mind (like the sock yarn and the white wool for a sweater), other yarn is just waiting for me to be inspired.
And here is my fabric stash. This old shelf was destined to the garage until I thought that maybe displaying my fabric might motivate and inspire me (and it looks so pretty!!)
Here is a picture of the chair. My grandma had one of these (but brown upholstery) that I used to use to stand on to cook at her house and sometimes to sit at the "adult" table for meals. I loved it because I could rest my feet on the steps. It is just right for little ones and I think E will enjoy using it for cooking too. The lady I bought it from (who I found out used to play in the playhouse in our yard when she was little) told me she used to get her hair cut while sitting on it. That seems like a pretty good idea to me as it will get the boys up to a better height for me to cut their hair. This is the quilt, not too fancy but what I really like about it is the fabric used on the back. It will go on its first camping trip with us this weekend, we are heading to the mountains.And a picture of the blueberries which will start disappearing quickly now. They are barely ripe but E can't resist.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
These were the first cherries off our tree this summer. Maybe not quite as ripe as they could have been, but I'm impatient. The rest I will leave until they are a deeper shade of red, almost black.
Today I went to one of the U-pick places in town for strawberries. Now I think I am quite an organised person - I made soup and bread in the morning because I knew I would be out late, I washed and dried the taekwondo uniforms so that we would be prepared to go straight to a class after youngest son went to a birthday party, I had buckets ready for filling with strawberries. However, two thoughts belatedly hit me this afternoon which could have ruined my plans - first, were they open for picking, and second, did I have enough cash? Thankfully, they were open, and I checked my purse for cash and found about $7 in there. Hmm, at 99 cents a pound, that wasn't going to buy a huge quantity of strawberries. Oh well, I just decided to fill up one bucket, estimating that it might hold about 5 pounds. My guess was about right - the fruit and bucket weighed about 6 pounds, for which I was charged $5.50 to allow for the weight of the bucket. K and I probably wouldn't have had Heather's stamina at picking strawberries anyway - we quickly tired of bending and sweating over those strawberry plants - but we have enjoyed eating some of the strawberries this evening. SO much better than the hard tasteless imports.
Spanikopitas, brown rice cooked in a veggie broth, and lemon potatoes are what is pictured but you could also serve pita with tzatziki or hummus and a Greek salad (this meal is actually from the winter so tomatoes and cucumbers at that time are very pricey and not so tasty!)
Another favourite dinner is pizza!! The rest of my family chooses to throw some cheese on theirs but I don't eat dairy anymore and I don't want to use soy or rice cheese. Honestly, I don't miss the cheese at all.
Monday, 25 June 2007
Sunday, 24 June 2007
This picture is from last weekend's walk...that bag I am carrying isn't my lunch, it is the garbage that we collected along the way. The boys ask me each time why people would throw their garbage out and I never know exactly how to answer. I want to say that it must be because they are pigs, filthy pigs who have no regard for nature and should not be allowed to use it...but I don't say that. (well, not out loud anyway) I do talk to them about how for someone to have so little respect for nature they must have no respect for themselves, we talk about what that must be like and why someone might be like that, how important we think it is to treat nature with respect, why we should pick up other's garbage, etc. More importantly, we take the time to notice nature in all her beauty by appreciating all the things she shows us such as this Mountain lady slipper pictured below.
Saturday, 23 June 2007
Late this afternoon I could hear the repeated cries of quail sounding distressed coming from the backyard. Looking out the window we could see what the commotion was all about. A family of quail had been out foraging and the parents had taken their 5 very young chicks down into our now half filled with sand, man made water pond to explore. When the parents left and the chicks tried to follow they couldn't climb the sides to reach ground level. The parents were calling their young ones, but try as they might, the chicks were just too little to make it out. The parents were getting distraught.
We decided to help the babies out before the neighbour's cat came to check things out. Happy to say that all the chicks were reunited with their parents after we scooped them up. Here's a close up of one of the chicks held in my hubby's hands.
Now onto the berry part of this post. I picked some of these fresh off the bushes that grow over the back fence in our yard. Now as tasty as these berries may look, they are not favourites in our household for fresh eating as all other berries are. So, I used them to make some Kamut/Cornmeal and Saskatoon Berry pancakes for supper. Yum!
These berries are a bit nostalgic for me as I spent part of my youth in Saskatchewan where these berries are picked by the bucketful. I spent many an hour doing just that so that we could enjoy the berries baked into pies or made into jam. If you've ever tried these berries you know that they only resemble blueberries in looks. Saskatoon berries or service berries are quite seedy and nowhere near as soft and juicy as a blueberry. As a kid, I loved these berries, probably in part because I never tasted a fresh blueberry until we moved to BC. My boys don't understand how I could want to eat fresh Saskatoons at all - they say these berries are bird feed! (They have a point as all manner of birds can be found feasting on Saskatoons in our backyard presently).
It's so hard for me to choose which flowers are my favourites so it usually just ends up that whatever is currently in bloom is my favourite. Here are some pics of the roses that we are enjoying right now. Anybody else remember that song I Never Promised You a Rose Garden? That's what I was humming this morning as I was weeding up front by these beauties.
After all the reading I have been doing lately about eating locally and seasonally I have been paying more attention to what we are eating, and I am quite pleased to note that we already do eat that way much of the time. This was part of our dinner last night, a spinach and strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing, even the poppy seeds were from our garden and the walnuts from our trees.
Friday, 22 June 2007
You could call this environmentally friendly playdough - no plastics offgassing here! This is a selection of bread "rolls" that you will never find at a commercial bakery! There are bagels, a candy cane, a snowman, knots, several unusual and unidentifiable shapes and, the favourite, dog poo! I'm sure they'll taste great.
Here's my finished shawl made from three skeins of James C Brett Marble. I just kept going until it was nearly all used up. Now I'd like to find a shawl pin to go with it, either new or thrifted, and send it to my mum. The next decision will be whether to send it airmail or surface - one week and lots of money, six weeks and a lot less money! She won't need it yet, but I get nervous when the things that I mail are tied up in the system for a long time.
We have also been enjoying a whole mess of peas, the only way we eat them is standing right in the garden munching away. I don't think I've ever cooked them....they never seem to make it out of the garden.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
I did two loads of laundry and hung them out on my rotary clothes line. It was very peaceful out in the backyard, shaded by my huge walnut tree as I hung out the fresh-smelling clothes. I don't take a peaceful neighbourhood for granted these days. Last year, I had a problem with one of my neighbours. Their 9 year old son was using their backyard, which is right next to ours, as a dirt bike circuit and the noise was driving me crazy. A couple of calls to the appropriate authority resulted in a visit and (touch wood) that annoying habit seems to have stopped. Funny how my family tell me my hearing isn't that good but repetitive noise just gets me irritable or even angry very quickly.
Later that morning, I finished making and baking the bread and also made soup for dinner, as I was going to be out all afternoon and needed to have something prepared in advance. The soup was a recipe I invented and it's rather good - it reminds me of canned Heinz tomato soup that I had as a child - tasty and thick - but without the excess salt etc that they no doubt put in it.
Toss into a pan or pressure cooker:
one large can crushed tomatoes
6 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 chopped carrots
half a cup of red lentils
Cook until the carrots are soft and blend it up so the kids can't see the vegetables and you're done!
I almost forgot to mention that I had a visit from a member of a certain religious organisation this morning and I finally found the assertiveness I needed to say, "No thank you" to their leaflet. (Funny, we were discussing this very thing at our girls night last week.) It occurred to me that by refusing the leaflet, I am reducing the paper that will be going into my recycling bin, which is a good thing!
This afternoon, our homeschool support group met at a friend's mum's house. She lives in a beautiful area of the city and has a backyard pool, and we spent a few happy hours there enjoying the company of our friends. I wish I had photos to show you, but the batteries in my digital camera obviously had so little power that it couldn't even tell me to "Change the Batteries".
After arriving home from that outing and eating our tomato soup and fresh bread and salad, K and I had to go out once again for our Taekwondo class. It was a challenging class, partly because two teens were there who are ready to move up to black belt and the instructor was making us do all our patterns so that he could assess the two boys, followed by some hot and heavy sparring at the end of which we were all dripping!
At the end of the class, the two boys stayed on to complete the requirements for junior black belt, first Dan. They had to answer a number of questions related to the history of Taekwondo, the meanings of patterns, the student/instructor relationship, etc. They had to demonstrate all their kicks and other techniques that they've learned since white belt. And the part we were all looking forward to - the board-breaking.
Only teens and adults, green belt and above, break boards. I have broken one at a time myself with a palm strike, knifehand and various kicks. It gives you an amazing sense of power! These two guys were faced with stacks of two and three boards this evening. One of the kicks was a flying side kick over a line of pads. Whilst I felt some sympathy for the boys doing the kicking, especially when they failed to break the boards and the pain and frustration was obvious, I also felt for the guys who had to hold the boards! More than once, someone's fingers were smushed! I don't know whether those boys passed their test - they won't find out until later - but watching them really motivated me to work hard in the next year so that when I face the same test I will be ready, all of the information in my head and the physical ability to do everything that I need to do.
In the meantime, K and I test next Thursday for our black stripe so it's back to the manual for some studying.
And finally (because it's getting late and this is a really long post) my latest Ecoholic action plan is to make myself some cloth menstrual pads. I have been using a Keeper for years but continued using those thin little pads for heavy days...well, I intend to stop buying them...another little action to cut down on the pollution of the planet!
Here is a shot I just managed to catch of a doe. Can you see her hiding? My husband was further ahead on the trail which clings to the side of a steep grade and while he cruised along he startled this creature down the in the valley to run towards the direction we had biked from. She came bounding along and I barely managed to extract my camera from the pack in time. Thankfully, she finally stopped to take a look back at me and I got this photo.
Here's my man as we pause for the homeward descent after a great ride. I never tire of looking out onto Okanagan Lake from the vantage point of the hills. It's just so beautiful.
I'm always so happy when we take the time to get outdoors for a bit of exercise. The beauty of where we live in the world often just takes my breath away.
And here is the same pupal case yesterday, but empty now, with a new ladybug underneath the leaf.
This one has been out for awhile because you can see its shell is orange now, getting more red.
This one is newly emerged and you can see the colour of it well. E found this one and wanted to take a pic of it. Now, let's hope that they get to work again and start eating all the aphids on my roses.
First up is a pair of socks I've knitted. I really wanted to post a picture of beautifully finished socks. But. No. It seems that's not the case. So here they are - shown as my recent frustration.
I faced several setbacks with these babies. The biggest, as always, is my lack of knitting experience. Which leads to many beginner mistakes made continually. I want to say here, that I think I should receive some credit for even continuing to attempt any knitting projects due to this handicap ;o) Anyways. I did finally get the socks knitted - after unravelling them to correct the infamous pointy toe mistake, oh and ah, to add to the foot length (yes, there was lots of unravelling, let me tell you). Now after sticking with it to make it through those mistakes I have to face the final step. Grafting the toe. Arrrrgh. I'm gonna say right up front - I like knitting, but I HATE grafting. This hate is directly in proportion to how ugly my finished project looks. All due to the crappy kitchener stitches I seem to make (see above photo). sigh. Now I've read how to make these stitches in the knitting books. I have seen them done online. I have even had kind, dear, sweet Nicola show me how to make these stitches. And yet. Well... Mine still don't turn out worth a hoot. I am not sure why this simple stitch evades my mastery. I am this close to just sticking those socks under the needle of my sewing machine or better yet, serging the suckers! Ha! Let's see them unravel from that!
Seriously, I know I won't be satisfied until I master this stitch. It's challenging me, and frustrating me. So, I'm setting those socks aside once again while I regroup.
Hey, I don't need those wool socks for another few months anyways, right?
Next project to share with you is faring somewhat better at the moment. This is a quilt I designed and am making for my youngest son (blame his taste for the super bright fabrics). I'm turning my efforts back into finishing this project after figuring out how to deal with the challenge I faced with it.
Everything went along fairly smoothly initially in assembling this - right up to the point where I was machine quilting it. I thought I was just kicking butt with my freehand machine quilting ( note the danger when you get too self assured with any kind of handiwork) and it wasn't until I had used a full bobbin of thread that I took the time to fip the quilt over to check thoroughly for problems. *Now unless you think I never check to see how my stitiches are on the underside, well, I actually do - but I missed seeing the tiny wrinkles with this project - the stitches were fine though*.
Okay, you know what I'm going to tell you, right. Uh-huh. There were problems. Lots. The wrinkles I'd quilted into the back were tiny and if there had been only a couple of them, I would've carried on. There wasn't just a couple though. The next course of action involved the seam ripper. Now here's the part I HATE about sewing. Picking my stitches out. I believe this is because I see myself as more of a going forward kind of stitcher. So, I really don't enjoy going backwards, so to speak, which is what you're doing when you have to remove all your stitches. I spent a lot more time picking those stitches out than it took for me to put them there to begin with. That done, I set this project aside until I figured out how to prevent this situation from happening again.
I think I've got the challenge dealt with and now I'm back to being inspired to carry on and finish this quilt. The above photo shows the quilt awaiting my machine quilting. (This made possible only after all that stitch removal, re-ironing the backing and the quilt top separately, and then going through the whole centering and pinning process all for a second time...)
Funny, but it seems like whenever a project frustrates me and then I figure it out - well, that project just inspires me to tackle more projects and um, er, while frustrated on at least one project, I always have something else to work away on. Hmmmm... sounds like I have a project formula here: Inspired=Frustrated+Challenged
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Here it is, takes about ten minutes to make. This is my first try, I am thinking that next time I will add some big front pockets for holding assorted gardening odds and ends and I will also use the pillow seam as the back of the skirt so that it can have a slit for more leg room. This is my kind of sewing, all I had to do was to sew a casing for the elastic waist. That's it. The hem of the pillow case became the hem of the skirt.(you getting a good laugh here, K?) Now I will be on the lookout for pillow cases whenever I go thrifting. Hey Katherine and Samantha, did you know we are getting our own Sally Ann on this side of the bridge?