Tuesday, 27 February 2007

FFO (Finally Finished Object)

Here is a project that has taken me.....oh, about 10 months to get around to completing. The funny part is once I got going on it yesterday, it went together so quickly. That is pretty typical of most things in life, I think, once you just decide to do it and get on with it, it doesn't take long at all.

When I saw the felted knitting needle holder in this book, I knew I wanted to make it. I had the perfect fabric in mind that I had found at one of our local thrift stores some time back that had been sitting on my shelf since then. Some of the yarn is thrifted and some is leftover bits from last year's felted bags that I made for gifts for all the women in my family. The sewing machine that I used ( that I finally took the time to get working yesterday) is a freebie that was given to my mom - in case she knew anyone who could use it ( which she did) - and then passed onto me. So now that I have one machine that works like a dream it makes it easier to get rid of at least 2 of the other 3 that I have languishing in the laundry room in varying states of not-workingness. Anyway, this is my favourite kind of project - taking bits and pieces of second hand stuff and making it into something useful - I use up some of my clutter and get something useful in return - even the knitting needles that will go in it are thrifted.

(pre-felting and post-felting)

I didn't quite follow the pattern ( again ladies, I can almost hear you guffawing at that). I didn't have the size needle called for and since it was to be felted I figured how much could it really matter. I also wasn't using 100% wool for part of it and I wanted to use double strands to get the mix of colour I wanted so, basically I guess I didn't follow it at all. I realized, when I was thinking about this, that I am a real "slap-dasher" - that sounds rather like an English term for someone dirty, doesn't it... a scoundrel, a blackguard, a bounder, a real slap-dasher... not quite what I was meaning...I like it though - I tend to like to follow my own ideas and I also like to get things done quickly (once I decide to do them). This can make for some....uh, interesting outcomes, but it works well for me. My friends know that I am a slap-dasher extraordinaire when it comes to cooking, I just find it soooo hard to follow a recipe. This can make it hard when someone asks me for a recipe, especially if they have some reasonable expectation of actual measurements. Don't even get me started on my gardening methods, they're enough to give my husband ( who makes a living running a landscape company ) nightmares.

So, here it is, all rolled up, with my needles stashed inside - ready for Nicola's next knitting night. Now I just need to find a ribbon to tie it closed with.

On another note, the boys and I have been enjoying listening to Terry Deary's Horrible Histories on CD. These are very funny tales presented by the BBC. W has always loved these books, and we are finding the CDs hilarious. If you love British accents and have a bit of a warped sense of humour (yes on both counts for me) then I think you would really enjoy these tales too. We got a stack from our library to listen to, we are listening to the Groovy Greeks right now. Still to come: The Terrible Tudors, The Savage Stone Age, The Vile Victorians, and The Measly Middle Ages. Hilarious!

Monday, 26 February 2007

Sewing for Girls

Dollies for my nieces' birthdays last year. I was happy to find a pattern in a library book that reminded me of my favourite cloth doll from childhood - Holly Hobbie. So I set out to recapture that idea by using muslin for the doll's head and body and yarn (thanks Samantha!) for their hair. I struggled for awhile trying to come up with suitable eyes for their faces, as my nieces are still young enough that anything protruding would be picked at and if removed, likely swallowed. When I found the facial iron- on transfers at Michael's, I knew that my search was over. The hair was a total success in looks due to the texture of the yarn. Of course it was a lot of hand sewing and this took the most time in completing because I wanted to make sure it was secured. It was great fun making these and a little hard to give them away. My hope is that they will be as cherished as my own special Holly Hobbie doll was.

This is a gift set consisting of a dress, sun hat and plush bunny I sewed for the first baby of close friends. I always look forward to getting to make little girl things as I have sons and seem to have spent more hours making boys' stuff. I wanted to sew an outfit with lots of frills and then got inspired to sew the chenille bunny along with a matching dress. I originally was wanting to sew the dress in pink... but when asking for input, the boys chorused "NO Pink!" I thought this fabric and dress style satisfied my desire for something feminine along with their request for any colour but pink. Even though the style looks a bit fussy, it's deceiving because I made the collar separate from the dress. Now there's no need to worry about the collar being in the way for baby's meals or naps and without the ruffled collar the dress is more casual looking. Besides, a girl is never to young to want some versatile pieces in her wardrobe!

Sunday, 25 February 2007


I was irritable this morning. I could blame a number of things - could be PMS (though that would be a bit early), perimenopause (hormones could be declining), sniffing children (one of my pet hates, listening to someone sniff - like fingernails on a chalkboard!), resentment that my children are not pulling their weight in the kitchen and helping with dishes, tiredness from a late night. Maybe I need a holiday, to get away from the routine of cooking and cleaning, or maybe it's the pull of "home", that little island where I grew up. Most of the time I don't think about it, but about every three years I get the itch - to go back and visit my parents, sister, niece, nephew and the in-laws' side of the family.

R and I have parents in their 70s. As I mentioned in a previous post, my mother-in-law is going through a period of confusion and having her medication changed around and it is worrying. She has dementia-type symptoms, with short-term memory loss. R and I have done some research - we know she was very low in sodium and have discovered that this can cause confusion. R has spoken to his dad on the phone and suggested electrolyte drinks, green vegetables such as kale which are high in potassium, and B12 shots, all of which could help her recover.

It is scary to think of how fast things can change. One day, all is well, the next - well, who knows? My in-laws have two holidays planned - one to Switzerland in April and one to the Grand Canyon in September, following which they will fly to Canada to spend time with us. We have to have faith that she will recover from this mental fog she's in right now and be back to normal soon.

Anyway, whatever the cause of my irritability, I found an oasis of calm quite unexpectedly. I was sitting at the dining room table - so was K, aged 11. He started colouring in a colour-by-numbers crocodile on the cardboard pack containing the markers on the table. He took a lot of care over it, using some vibrant colours - fuchsia, turquoise, lime green, red - and just sitting and watching him I was aware of myself relaxing completely and just enjoying the moment.

I remembered to feel gratitude for what I have, and instead of holding on to my grumpiness and letting it escalate, I let it go and had a pleasant afternoon.

Can't stop making Barbie clothes.....

This is too much fun. I thought I was going to make a dress but as I was knitting I decided to do a skirt. I really like the way the skirt turned out, it reminds me of those old wool flat front skirts with the pleated bottoms - the kind my grade 12 English teacher always wore. I'm not entirely pleased with the top, the problem is that you have to make the armholes big enough that you can get it onto Barbie's body but you don't want it so big that Barbie's breasts are exposed. Actually that isn't the problem, that is just my excuse. The problem is that I've no idea what I am doing, I'm sure a more experienced knitter (AKA Nicola) would have no problem with the tank top straps and would have grafted them nicely so that they wouldn't be lumpy like mine. See Nicola, I'm learning, at least I know what I should've done. I actually did think of that while I was knitting it but the problem, you see, is that I was watching the Alan Rickman movie - er, I mean Blow Dry- and I needed to give it my full attention. I still need to follow step-by-step instructions when I am doing the Kitchener stitch so it was either miss Alan and have nice flat seams, or see Alan and have bumpy seams - poor Barbie, she didn't have a chance.

E decided this morning that Barbie should have some jewellery so he went to make some and W joined him. The tiara is done by E and the necklace and bracelet are done by W. I love that the boys enjoy doing stuff like this, that they don't think it too "girly" for boys to do.

Oh yes, and we found the one and only Barbie that I have left that my brother did not torment when we little. She has all her limbs as well as her head, amazing really.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Who could resist?

Yesterday at skating a lovely young friend of mine happened to mention that her Barbie had no clothes. Well....who could resist this...not a person who likes to make things....and certainly not a person who likes to make things and has no little girl of her own. So when I got home I thought I would try my hand at knitting Barbie a skirt, seemed to me that a tube skirt would be a simple sort of thing to start with. Right?

Well, you know how sometimes in your mind you get this great idea, and it seems like it will look pretty cool and then when you try and do it....well, not so much. In my head lots of different colour stripes would look really great for a Barbie skirt, and interesting textured yarns would be even better. After a couple of attempts at figuring out how many stitches she would need to fit around her body I started adding in different colours and yarns until I figured out that a Barbie skirt is pretty tiny and, with the way I knit, there isn't a lot of room for all that. At any rate, Barbie ended up with a dress instead, and I am fairly pleased with how it turned out for my first attempt.

Notes to self for next time - smaller needles, less colours, use one kind of yarn, don't use yarn with lots of bits that hang off it and get tangled in so you can't tell what is a stitch and what is a bit, and maybe even see if anyone has some sort of pattern that you could use.

Here is a close up with the flower snap I put on:

This is the whole dress:

What's that? She'd work much better with two legs, you say! Yes, I know, where were you to tell that to my nasty big brother 30-odd years ago. Anyway, she worked well enough as a model to give me an idea of where to start. Now I am ready to try some more creations.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Sweater is finished at last

Done! And I'm pleased with the fit. It's not too big (a mistake I have made with previous sweaters, which just make me look huge) and not too small. This has been a learning curve, following Elizabeth Zimmermann's non-standard methods. The first time I reached the neck, I tried the sweater on and found it too short. I ripped back all the way to the armholes and reknitted the yoke. I then knitted 6 inches of K2 P2 rib for a turtleneck, but when I bound off I found the edge too tight. I decided to rip back and leave 2 inches of ribbing, then bound off again VERY loosely. The most time-consuming part of ripping back is picking up the @#$% stitches - they tend to be very evasive, especially in rib, as the stitches are all over the place!

If I make another seamless raglan, I would probably not bother with the extra short rows across the back - they seem to make the knitting less smooth at the side where the wraps are. And I would probably make the sleeves a smidgeon longer and the neck a little looser, maybe keeping to 40% of the body stitches as a minimum for the neck opening, as per EZ's percentage system for her yoke sweaters.

I finished this yesterday and immediately cast on for another project (I can't possibly be without something on the needles). I have some Lion Suede from a ripped out sleeveless top that I made from The Knitting Experience - The Purl Stitch (didn't like the fit) so have started a backpack from Melanie Falick's Kids Knitting. This is a book I'd recommend to anyone starting out, not just kids!

Something New from Something Old

Here are a couple of projects I recently made using either fabric scraps or recycled clothing. The red table runner was sewn from the leftovers I had from sewing my oldest son a log cabin quilt for his bed. This meant the red fabric was already cut into strips, so all I needed to do is add the center white squares and then get sewing! The tote bag is made from two pairs of worn out men's jeans along with using a printed cotton skirt for the lining. The straps of the tote are the waistbands (including the button and button holes) from the jeans. I sewed half inch seams and then snipped the seam allowances in intervals of a half inch so that I could get the raggy effect after washing and drying the tote when it was completed. The tote was quilted with a cotton batting between the fabric layers - with the batting not extending into the seam allowances (you don't want the batting in the raggy part). The inspiration behind both these projects is from the book A Passion for Patchwork by Lise Bergene.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Let's Get Off Our Arses.....

I consider our family to be fairly environmentally conscious, quite earth friendly. We have, over the last 11 years, paid close attention to the way that we live and have done our best to make less of an impact on the earth. Yes, there is still much more that we could do, there always will be, but feeling overwhelmed by the direness of the situation is no excuse not to make a start, to do something. If you aren't appalled by the lack of concern and the lack of real action taken by the leaders and by most people in North America then clearly you are not paying attention. We really must step up and make reducing our impact on the Earth a priority. I believe that by teaching my children how easy it is to live happily and meaningfully, in a way that respects the earth, that I am giving them one of the most important lessons they will ever have, and one of the most important skills they will ever need. We all gain from working towards living in a more sustainable way.

In the last couple years my oldest son, W, has begun taking a more personal interest in the environment and has started writing letters to the Mayor and City Council about issues that concern him. When he wrote his last letter I thought perhaps it wouldn't hurt for us to discuss some writing skills, particularly skills pertaining to writing a compelling argument, and so we talked about logic - premises, valid syllogism, conclusions and sound arguments. We also talked about having a "call for action" in his letters and how this is so very important. He seems to do this naturally anyway but I wanted him to know about these terms and why this works well.

Yesterday, I was reading this passionate post, written by Mary-Sue - you really must read it- and I was chuckling to myself over her point, "We keep sitting on our fat asses waiting for someone ELSE to wake up and save the planet for us." (Isn't that great? Please go read it, I think you will love it) And I thought "Yes! Yes! Yes!" here is someone who cares deeply enough that she is willing to ruffle some feathers; someone willing to get her own arse into gear and not only do all that she can to minimize her family's impact but also to take the time to beseech others to do the same. I don't know Mary-sue, but I can tell you that I like her very much already.

I am hard-pressed to imagine a more apt call to action than to 'get off our fat asses and do something", really, it is succinct, compelling... what more could you want? Will my son include it in his next letter to the mayor? Likely not, but it might cause some people to sit up and take notice, don't you think?

I realize that many of us are doing many things to lessen our impact, I realize that we all know some wankers that are doing nothing, and that that can be very frustrating sometimes. I guess what I am thinking about now - especially after reading Mary-Sue's post- and what I would like other people to think, is what more can I do, because we all know that there is always something more, and then let's get to it.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Just say NO to drugs...

Do you know what the Number One killer is in this country? It's not heart disease or cancer or car accidents - it's pharmaceutical drugs. Thousands of people die from taking their medication - it might be the wrong one for them, they may have been prescribed the wrong dosage, they may be taking two or more that interact dangerously, they may have misread the tiny print on the label...

Just in the last couple of weeks, my aunt and my mother-in-law have been in hospital in the UK. My aunt collapsed, managed to call an ambulance, and while in the hospital had her medication dose halved. My mother-in-law had a virus, then started vomiting even after liquids, was taken to hospital where they changed her medication because it was causing more problems than it solved. After 5 days she was sent home, but is still in bed, "listless" according to her husband.

I used to joke that my mother-in-law rattled - when she'd come for a visit, she'd be taking pills for high blood pressure, diuretic pills, aspirin to "thin her blood" and god knows what else. Unfortunately, it's no joke.

Have you seen those ads in magazines where they tell you about a new miracle drug that'll "cure" some symptom - which is followed by two pages of miniscule print telling you all the side effects that you MIGHT suffer if you take that drug. In my opinion, it's not worth the risk.

Why do people put so much faith in doctors? They go to the doctor, complain about a symptom, the doctor gives them a pill. They take the pill, the symptom goes away and they think they are cured. Ah, but then they start suffering from something else, and they need another pill. There's one major problem with this - the pill only covers up the symptom and doesn't treat the underlying cause.

My father is another example. He had "high blood pressure" for which he was prescribed a drug to lower his blood pressure. Years later, he is told he is diabetic - and that the drugs he's been taking are now known to CAUSE diabetes.

The only way to get well is to find out WHY you're ill in the first place. Do doctors spend time with you asking lots of questions about your lifestyle? NO. They just give you drugs.

Last year, I went to see a naturopath. I was having some mid-cycle bleeding that was becoming a concern. I was asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire and she spent an HOUR with me talking about my health. A liver cleanse was suggested, so I spent a month taking herbal capsules and eating a raw food diet and I haven't had any such bleeding since. What would a GP have recommended in the five minutes he or she would have spent with me? Probably something drastic that involved drugs or surgery.

We HAVE to take responsibility for our own health. If we put crap in our bodies, then we're going to feel like crap. If we drink soda or chlorinated or fluoridated water, eat white bread, white sugar, fried foods, candy, artificial additives and the other packaged garbage that passes for food these days, we're going to get sick. If your body is telling you that something is wrong, start with the obvious. Think about what you eat and drink, do something about your stress, and get active. Going to the doctor would be, for me, A LAST RESORT.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

My Kind of Workout

Inspired by Katherine and Nicola I recently decided to dust off my weights and get back to doing some weight training. ( A year or so back I got into the habit of doing this and, once I got past my utter boredom with the repetitiveness of it, was quite pleased with the results - well, mostly the feeling of virtuousness that came along with having stuck to my goal. ) At any rate, on a few days last week I worked through some upper body routines and was, again, feeling very pleased with myself. This morning in the shower I realized that my arm and leg muscles were pleasantly sore - the kind of sore that comes from working underused muscles. Wondering why that might be - as I hadn't been back to the weights for several days - I thought about my activities the previous day and realized I had inadvertently come upon an excellent training program. Since I believe -due to the soreness of my legs and arms - that it works very well, I will share it with you in case you too care to torture yourself in this manner.

Step one: Using leg muscles, climb chosen apple or pear tree. Hang precariously from chosen limb, begin pruning back hard.
Step two: Stretch beyond the point of good judgement while holding, above your head, very sharp and pointy ( and heavy, by this point) loppers. Cut all water shoots.
Step three: Change positions to more precarious one, halfway out on thin limb, to reach the last bits rather than using a ladder like any sane person would do.
Step four: Climb down, get smaller pruners, climb up onto other limb, repeat process.
Step five: Climb down, get saw, climb up, repeat process.
Do 4 sets of 12 repetitions until your trees are looking rather sad and bald. Mind the branches that fall down and smash you on the bridge of your nose. Step back, admire your work, but don't get too pleased with yourself, you've still the branches to pick up ( great for the leg muscles).
Now continue this program through the cherry, walnut, hazelnut, peach, plum, apricot and various ornamental trees, not to mention the unruly grape vines and you have a workout worthy of Hercules.

Honestly, the excuses some people will come up with to avoid weight training, heh?

Friday, 16 February 2007

Saying the words

Thinking about what Heather posted about the importance of keeping connected to others, specifically the role that spending time with friends has in enriching our lives brought a point to mind. The value of telling others how much they mean to me, because they may not know it. Sounds simple, but I know how the words need to be said, not just thought and at least for me, I need to say the words more often. I want to echoe Heather's lead in especially thanking the wonderful families I've met through our home learning years. The friends I had made have enriched my life and my family's beyond measure. I want to make sure I don't let time pass without saying the words, "Thank you, my friends. With all my heart".

Thursday, 15 February 2007

A Little Help From My Friends...

Yesterday I was sitting around a table with six other homelearning moms, chatting about all kinds of things besides our kids. Towards the end of the afternoon, and again that evening, I was thinking about how important this weekly gathering is to me, and to my ability to nurture my children. I really cannot overemphasis just how vital I believe this connection to other homelearning families to be. Not only does it give my children and I a sense of community, a feeling of inclusion, it gives me a place to ask and answer questions, to share ideas and resources, to talk about the good and the not-so-good things going on in our lives and our world. It gives us a place to complain if we have hit a rough spot in our homelearning journey, without the fear that the person we are complaining to will be thinking that the solution would be to just put the children in school. It is a very good feeling to be surrounded by people who understand what you are doing and why, even though their reasons for learning at home may be very different from yours.
Sometimes I wonder how different this journey would be for my family if I didn't have these people in my life and I just cannot imagine it, it has made a huge difference in my life over the last seven years. It isn't that I couldn't do it, I consider myself a very strong and independent individual, it is just that it is so much better, much richer and fuller with all these wonderful people surrounding me. So, I would encourage any families new to homelearning to seek out support groups, or any mothers who are feeling alone, misunderstood or unsupported to get in touch with other homelearning mothers. The women in our group are all very different, we all have very different ideas on how our children will learn best but I think we all come away from our get-together feeling more whole and filled-up, more connected, and I think this feeling is passed on directly to our children. I know that this is how it works in my family and so I thank-you, all of you, I am so glad to have you in our lives.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Here Comes the Sun....

Sing it with me.....

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
Little darlin' it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darlin' it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
Little darlin' the smiles returning to their faces
Little darlin' it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Little darlin' I feel the ice is slowly meltin'
Little darlin' it seems like years since it's been clear
Here come the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
Here come the sun, here comes the sun
It's all right, it's all right (George Harrison)

And it really is all right, it has been about 3 months since we have had the sun at our home and today was the long awaited day.....
After singing Sunshine On My Shoulders (really badly, sorry John!) for quite a while I took pity on the boys and we listened to Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles instead. As much as I would rather we had the sun shining all year at our house, I have to say that we have developed a huge, huge appreciation for it in the years we have lived here. We know when it will disappear, when it will come back and at about what time and for how long in the beginning. We miss it while it is gone and are thrilled when it comes back. Now I just need to clean the outside of my windows. ;-)

An actual finished project!

I would like to present my second completed pair of felted clogs. Please ignore the fact that it is mid-February and let us rejoice in the fact that I have finally finished knitting all my Christmas presents for 2006! They have dried and are ready for delivery to my ever patient sister in law.
I am almost completed sock number 2 (yay!) However, I have decided that five inches is just too short and will be partially frogging sock number 1 (boooo!) and re-knitting it to a more desirable six inches - mind out of the gutters ladies. Hopefully by early next week I will be posting completed socks and be ready to move onto um... another pair of socks.
Lastly, I'd like to send my love to Ben the mailman, who is embarking on an adventurous and most exciting journey.

Monday, 12 February 2007

"Ripit, Ripit"

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that last night I reached the neck of my sweater and was really pleased with how the yoke looked. I tried it on and the fit around the shoulders is perfect. Here's the bad news - the body is too short. I could leave it and wear it and put up with it, but I know I'm more likely to enjoy wearing it if I make it longer. So it's time for frogging back down to the point where the sleeves and body were united so I can add a couple of inches to the length, then redo the yoke. It's not that bad - the yoke seemed to knit up surprisingly quickly - and I did make a mistake in the decreasing, missing a pair of increases in one place, which left me with a couple of extra stitches by the time I reached the neck.

Heather's idea of getting the spring cleaning done early is a good one, as she spends hours and hours in her yard every spring. Me, I love the winter, because I don't feel obliged to think about my garden at all! I like seeing the house clean and tidy and I love eating the produce from the garden, but I wish it could all happen without any effort from me!!

My son L has a library book called That Book of Perfectly Useless Information by Mitchell Symons, so I am going to pull out a snippet of perfectly useless information with which to end my post......

Did you know that there is a French red wine called Grand Dick and a French deodorant called Cock???

Things I Learned This Weekend...

Here's a little, er...better make that a big, tidbit for you to share with your friends ... male barnacles have a, um, member that is many times the size of its owner. Indeed, its penis is "proportionally the longest possessed by any animal." So, comparatively the barnacle has got everyone beat. It is so, David Attenborough says so and I certainly believe him. So there you are, share that at the next potluck you go to and see what the men have got to say. ;-)

I also learned that I actually like a bit of a challenge now when knitting. I know, who'd've thought it, you can stop snorting and guffawing now ladies. It is true. I am almost done my fifth ball of yarn on my Einstein coat - that is 5 balls of garter stitch, garter stitch and more garter stitch, about 32 inches of same old, same old. Ugh! I am only up to one hundred and some ridges, so around 50 more ridges to make still, and that is just for the coat bottom. I've decided to cast on something else - more baby hats likely, so that I can have something to break up the monotony. I'd better quit my complaining though because I found a lovely shawl in Greetings From the Knit Cafe that I really would love to make and it looks like it's all stockinette stitch.

Just last night I learned that Bill Bryson (one of my favourite authors simply because he makes me laugh so hard I have to make sure I am never drinking tea when I read his books for fear of spewing tea on the library book) also likes to rant about American TV. He has written in his book, Notes From a Big Country , that "you don't watch television here to see what is on, you watch it to see what else is on" and I think this is very true. I have seen many a channel flipper in my time, always searching for something, always thinking - there must be something on we've got 78 channels for pity sake. Don't you believe it, by the time you work your way round through all those channels, it will be the beginning of the next hour and you will have to start all over. In this way you will pass many an evening without even your hands free to knit. Now that is a pity.

And finally, I think that I am really onto something here, why wait 'til Spring to do Spring cleaning? OK, other than the fact that it is much more pleasant to open doors and windows for fresh air then. I started my cleaning now, this way when it finally gets to be Spring and the weather is lovely, I will be out in the garden enjoying the weather. Now, when it is lousy and I am inside anyway, mightn't I be better off doing my cleaning now? Please tell me if I am missing something really obvious here otherwise I will continue on, feeling quite pleased with myself and looking forward to my extra pottering in the garden time.

Friday, 9 February 2007


This photo was taken a few days ago - the sleeves and body have been united on the needles ready for the raglan decreasing up to the neck. I've knitted about 4 inches since then. I put my work onto three Denise cables so I could flatten it out. I went through a period of anxiety when I thought my slightly wider sleeves would result in a sweater which was too wide around the shoulders, but I have tried it on and it seems okay. The body is a little narrower than I wanted, but hopefully it will look fine once finished and washed. Of course, the effect of the variegated yarn changes depending on the width of the knitting - the sleeves have wider bands of colour than the body.

The skin on my index fingers is actually cracking under the strain (I knit the continental way) but I can't knit with a band aid on my finger so I have had to be careful not to poke my needle tips into the sore bits!

At the widest point, there were about 280 stitches on the needles, but with the decreasing of 8 stitches every other row the rounds are going faster and faster.

When I have some time to myself, I have to decide whether to knit or to read Voyager (Diana Gabaldon) or to do both at the same time and figure out how to wedge the book open on my lap!

A Little Extra You Say......

When W was a few years old we got a Peter Alsop cassette from the library [ no colorful dinosaur songs for my kid, I'd decided]. He loved the songs and so did I. They were funny but some were also poignant to me. This is one of the funny ones that always stuck in my head and I would find myself humming. After our recent exposure to T.V [ that I have already ranted about here ] I was reminded of this song. Unfortunately the library no longer has it but I have requested that they purchase the CD so we will wait and see if they get it. Hopefully you will get a chuckle out of the lyrics to his song below. If you are interested in his other songs check out his website.


You get a little extra when you watch T.V.
Ain't that ducky!
Well you're lucky if you see that
You get a little extra when you watch T.V.!

You sit too close and you get a big surprise
Lots of radiation in your body and your eyes
Your eardrums hum when someone turns it up too high,
When you watch T.V.!

We learn lots about our bodies and our aches and pains,
Headaches, hemorrhoids, heartburn, diarrhea, denture stains
Gotta buy more drugs t'stop your stresses and your strains
When you watch T.V. !


When someone in an advertisement tells me lies
I jump up and switch the channels, and I get some exercise
So my body's getting healthy and my mind is getting wise
When I watch T.V.!

Daddies only love the Mommies when the dirt's all gone
From their shirts and shiny floors, the coffee has t'be right on,
I'm so glad my Dad's not fussy, cause he'd leave my Mom,
If he watched T.V.!


In real life it never works when people go
And hit and kick and punch and smash each other's heads and toes
But it always solves the problems on the cartoon shows
When you watch T.V.!

Last night on the highway when our car got stalled
We saw a bloody accident with bodies that were mauled
Though my folks got sick, it didn't bother me at all.
Cause I watch T.V.!


If you think that I am lazy, don't you call me names
I have learned important skills from playing video games
If a spaceship should attack me I could shoot 'em down in flames,
Cause I watch T.V.!

And a big T.V. can really give you quite a rest
If you get one near your bed, you've got no reason to get dressed
You never have to talk to anyone, your life is a success
When you watch T.V.!

Written by Peter Alsop, ©1983, Moose School Music (BMI)

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Felted Knitting Project Bag

These are photos showing before and after felting. It started out looking so huge, but did felt down into a manageable size for a shoulder sized tote. I lined the inside with 100% cotton print fabric and added a special buckle to the strap. The buckle belonged to my paternal great grandmother and the woman I credit with planting and nurturing the seeds of creativity in me from a very early age. I'm happy with the results of my first large felting project and just couldn't help sharing.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Not Bleah, Mmmm!

So, W has succumbed to the cold he was fighting. I guess the 3 flights [with germ laden air] to get home, the lack of sleep and the change in climate were just a little too much for his immune system - possibly the sugar in his little brother's birthday cake didn't help either. He is down for the count on the couch and I have been topping him up with garlic tea to help with his throat - "garlic tea, bleah," you say but don't knock it 'til you try it, it is actually quite delicious.

Good and Good For You Garlic Tea

Cut 1 good sized clove of garlic into pieces and put into tea cup
Pour boiling water over and steep at least 5 minutes (I cover mine with a plate to keep in all the good stuff)
Add a dollop of honey ( or maple syrup for vegans)
Add juice from half a lemon or a few spoonfuls of bottled lemon juice

Drink up - you could choose to eat the garlic too if you are really keen otherwise just leave it at the bottom of the mug and enjoy the tea

At any rate, not a lot going on around here today for any organized learning type activity so I am using the time to get to some looong put off jobs. I actually have been putting all the scraps of recipes, culled from magazines, newspapers and various other sources, into my "recipe" binder. This is a binder that has sat around for, oooh, maybe 8 years now with a lovely cover titled Heather's Recipes [made by my S-I-L] but filled only with poor, sad blank pages with no recipes inside - O.K, actually not true, it was filled with great wads of torn pages waiting to be nicely cut to size and glued to paper. So with a little help from the boys and their gluesticks I did some cutty, cutty, paste, paste [why did we used to call it that?] and there you have it, a freshly organized binder. I think it took all of 20 minutes while listening to Jim Weiss tell the tale of Theseus - can anyone listen to the ending of this and not want to cry?. A good start all in all, now I just need to find the other binder full of recipes that I moved when we remodelled the kitchen and get it done once and for all. Maybe if I can find the knitting binder I just started I can get that caught up too, seems like a good time of year for a bit of organizing.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Pointy hats!

Once my Elizabeth Zimmermann books arrived, I was itching to knit something. I chose the Ganomy (gnome) Hat from Knitter’s Almanac and cast on in the afternoon and knitted until I just had to get up from the couch to make dinner. I continued in the evening and finished it before bed! I didn’t match Elizabeth’s gauge - she tells you to get 4 stitches to the inch, I had 5, but as I wasn’t knitting it for anyone in particular I didn’t mind. I used a ball of dark blue Bernat Satin and US#8/5mm needles.

It’s a cute hat - probably best made for a younger child - I put it on my 8 year old and he called it an elf hat. It was a little tight on him so I shall have to find a small friend to give it to. It comes to a point at the top - Elizabeth suggests putting a ping pong ball in the top and winding yarn around underneath so your hat will float if it falls in water, but I just used a little ball of yarn.

The clever shaping with increases and decreases creates a hat that comes down lower over the ears to keep them warm - typical Elizabeth inventiveness!

Yesterday, somewhat bored with the endless rounds of my sweater, I dug out some black Lion Brand Homespun and grey Bernat Softee Chunky, and used them together to make a Maltese Fisherman’s hat. I used 6mm needles, as those were the largest dpns I had, but it would have been easier on the hands to use 8mm. Again, this hat came out about a 4 - 6 year old size.

This would be a very warm hat (it covers the ears and neck beautifully) and it is tempting to make a bigger one for myself, though I think it might cause a few smirks! ;o)
Here, my goofy kids model the hats!

That's how much all this yarn cost me. 4 skeins of rowan wool, 12 balls of beautiful silk/wool yarn that I will use for making an Einstein coat, 4 balls of a lovely shade of blue wool for felting, I ball of a lavender color mohair, and 8 balls of soft cottons for baby hats. That is why I love thrift stores, at a regular store I would only be able to get 4 or 5 balls of wool for that and I got 29 balls altogether. That's some bang for your knitting buck. Sooo, now I am thinking that I need to get going on some of this as I got it in December and haven't had time to knit much since(other than holiday gifts). I started an Einstein coat from this wonderful book that Nicola lent to me. It is a nice pattern that I can do while I chat, perfect for knitting nights and play days. I have had my eye on this pattern for a year or maybe two but thought I would never spend what it takes to get enough wool to make one. Well now I have no excuse. Here is how it look so far.

I also need to do some knitting for 5 babies that will be arriving soon - just found out from my M-I-L that 2 of my husband's cousins are having babies, one of them any day now and I had no idea - aargh why do men never remember to tell you the important stuff - babies to knit for, for pity sake- that is important.

This is a hat from some sock yarn that I had. I think newborn hats are supposed to be grapefruit size but since we haven't done a big grocery shop yet I am modelling it on an onion - my youngest son's idea.

So since gardening days are on the horizon my knitting days are likely drawing to a close and it is time to get a move on. Guess we need to have more knitting get-togethers for motivation ladies. How does Friday sound?

Saturday, 3 February 2007


My first finished object of the year! I've started my second sock and it is coming along pretty quickly (thanks to our Wednesday knit and gab and play day!) It feels very nice on although I think I could have made it a wee bit longer in the foot. I could make the second one a tiny bit longer or I could do it the same length and pass it onto someone with a slightly smaller foot then me. Either way, I'm very pleased to have finished my first sock!

Friday, 2 February 2007

Can't help it...must rant about T.V.

So it probably isn't a great idea to make my first post a rant but there you have it, I can't help myself. I promise my next one will be about something nice, like our recent trip to Maui or knitting, I'll even include some pics of sea turtles or the little baby hat I knit.

Just back from a holiday where we had access to the telly. Having disconnected our cable over 11 years ago, when we had our first son, my contact with cable has been limited to occasional visits to my folks ( and even then we usually only watch the travel channel - because I do enjoy Pilot Guides). Well, I already believe that most television is, quite frankly, Crap - with a capital C but even I was stunned by the stupidity of what is now on cable. Heck, even my husband (who would probably actually not mind having cable sometimes) thought it was incredible how lousy the stuff is that is on the tube.

Most of what was on seemed to be some sort of reality T.V., filled with wanna-be actors disclosing all the details of their lives - I can't think of a suitable adjective for details so I'll leave that to you to fill in as you will, actually, nauseating would work now that I think of it. A ton of it seemed to be make-over shows, either of the body, house or wardrobe, with a good portion of plastic surgery shows thrown in. There was actually a soap opera channel - all soaps, all the time. There was a show about living in the playboy mansion, this was on during a time when many kids would still be awake. I shudder to think about the message this gives young minds. There were loads of shopping channels, there was even a game show channel. How many games shows can a person stand? Apparently quite a few. And to top it all off, everything on the air seemed to have women in barely-there clothing. What gives?

My son wanted to watch a show called Overhaulin' that he has seen before at my folks but it seems now to consist mostly of commercials, the "hosts" acting like idiots and a lot of repetition of the ploy that they used to get the car. He just wanted to see them work on the car, not all the other nonsense. And what is with the constant repetition - did they think we forgot how they stole the car during the incessant commercial breaks. He couldn't be bothered to watch it again. He also was watching a show about tsunamis on the discovery channel and a break came on where they showed what was "coming up soon" - a show about what "really goes on in women's prisons." Do you know what? He doesn't need to know, I don't want him to know, I don't even want to know. Why would that be shown during a time that many children would be watching? We just kept wondering who watches all this stuff....and why?

I actually find it, not only very disheartening, but truly scary. If this is what this generation is being brought up with what will become of them? I know, I know, it sounds like an overreaction from a crazy woman but I don't think so. I think it is one of those things like the frog in the boiling water. If you have been consistently exposed to the general worsening of T.V. you might not think it so bad, you have slowly grown accustomed to the nonsense, but I have been out of it for long enough that when I see it now it really is like being thrown into boiling water and it just kills me to see how bad it is and to know that so many people are spending their time, their lives really, watching such trash. For example, what will a young girl who grows up watching shows where all the women have "man-made" bodies think? I suppose she will just assume it is the done thing to be made-over. What will she think when she sees all these "beautiful " girls living in Hugh Heffner's mansion and the fuss being made over their lifestyles. Is this the kind of lifestyle that should have a show made about it, that should be applauded? What will she think when she watches families spewing their problems out to any willing member of the television audience instead of working together to solve things? What will she think if her nose, breasts, stomach or what have you aren't the "right" size? That she should have surgery to "fix" it? What will she think? What will she think?

I won't even start on all the commercials for every kind of drug to fix every kind of problem. Maybe there are some good shows, maybe even some good channels but we could not find them. It just left me feeling very sad, really. I don't know the solution for something that most people would not even see as a problem but I do believe, with all my heart, that it is a very serious problem indeed. For our family the solution will continue to be no cable and minimum access to the television other than DVD's that we have chosen to watch. We have had many, many discussions with the boys about commercials and the effect they have on people, about how we choose to spend our limited time on this earth and if we want it to be spent on television viewing and about the many consequences of T.V watching. I believe that this will be something that will stay with them forever and that they will never want to waste much of their time on this habit. I hope I am right.