Wednesday, December 30, 2009

stripes for sadie

There's always a crafting blackout before Christmas because I can't show any photos of what I'm working on, and I often give away the gifts before remembering to take pictures (2 pairs of wristwarmers suffered that fate this week). But luckily I have these legwarmers to show and I even had a willing model.

Inspired by Alana Dakos "Legwarmies" pattern, I chose these two colours from the machine washable Zealana Kia Ora Kauri line to make some stripey goodness. Their palette is great and it was hard to choose a colour combo. Since Sadie is all about wearing as many colours as she can, the purple and orange pairing suits her just fine. They look especially good with her new sparkly shoes and the often-photographed grizzly bear tights. Truthfully, the legwarmers aren't even in focus in the last photo but I couldn't resist Sadie's fashion shot - right down to the twisted buns in her hair. You can see how legwarmers are a real wardrobe staple for this girl's fashion sense. How does she channel the 80's when she doesn't even know what that means?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

pompom fun

There was a time when I thought you required Buddhist patience to make pompoms. The whole 'cut two cardboard circles and thread massive amounts of yarn through the center' idea seemed simply ludicrous. Then one magical day I saw the Clover pompom makers and I laughed at my naivete (it was like the day I found out that a sewing machine could wind a bobbin BY ITSELF, bringing an end to years of winding them by hand with a pencil). But I hadn't really sat down and made a few until this week, and now I can't stop.

I'll have to thank the friend who needed 3 pompoms for a craft she's working on because that is what started my mini-addiction. And it's not just me - Sadie thinks these are great fun and she has the patience to sit and wind the yarn, and even cut them open (with supervision, of course). We decorated our gifts with them, hung them on the tree - I mean, bucket of dead branches - and I know we need to put some on hats next. Or a bunting style garland out of them. So many options. And it turns out they are a great way to pass the time at 3am when your teething, I'm-almost-crawling baby just won't sleep, not to mention being a perfect way to use up leftover balls of yarn. See? Totally addicted.

Hope all your holidays are merry and bright!

Monday, December 21, 2009


A minute ago Milo was a newborn. A squishy, helpless, lovable newborn. And then today he turned 6 months old.

I quite dislike how fast this is all going (I mean, I'm also halfway through my mat leave, and at this point I start the inevitable countdown) but I wholeheartedly adore watching this little guy grow. Now he is extra squishy, not at all helpless, and he's the loveliest little baby boy I know.

Apologies for the indulgent baby post. The mommy in me just couldn't help herself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

sweet magic

Gosh, swaps are fun. I just received a box at my door, all the way from the UK. Thank you, thank you to Linda of Queen of the Froggers for the beautiful Magic Yarn Ball! I am desperately trying to squash the desire to unravel it right now to find all the little treasures inside, but that wouldn't be nearly as magical as discovering each item as I knit. For now I can see some lovely buttons and the wool is scrumptious!

Extra special thanks to T Does Wool for having this great idea and organizing the swap. And Linda - I promise yours will be in the mail soon too!

Monday, December 14, 2009

matching feet

For some reason I keep buying variegated yarn even though I am disappointed 99% of the time. I picked up this Koigu Merino Crepe to make a hat for myself but quickly disliked the way the colour was coming out even though I was alternating between two balls. This yarn is rather pricey though so I didn't want to just pretend I never bought it. Which led me to making two pairs of socks for my two little favourite people. And being my favourite people, they (okay, mainly Sadie) love them and have been wearing them non-stop.

I used Debbie Bliss' Two Tone Socks pattern and made adjustments for Sadie's feet. The yarn is thicker than called for, but with subtle modifications both pairs fit well. And now I don't have to worry about this yarn again, but please, someone, remind me to never buy variegated wool again. As it is, I'm still sitting on some Dream in Colour Classy that I'll never use.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

creamy white won

No more painting. White was the right choice after all, and we love, love, love it. Suddenly the kitchen feels bigger and brighter.

Baking will commence immediately.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

colour conundrum

Nature always gets it right, and I always get it wrong. On the first try anyway.

I am trying to paint our kitchen now that the appliances, counter and backsplash have all changed. Long ago it was a creamy white (like the cupboards) and then a dark charcoal gray. Last week I picked a taupe with a green undertone thinking that it would work with the glass tiles, which although they are frosted and backed with a taupe paper, still cast a green tint because of the nature of glass. Two coats of that paint and I felt we were living in a hospital. So then I tried the taupe (Para's "Stoneware") which is all through our house because I know I like it. But one coat of that and it looks more brown than it does in the rest of the place. My revelation while falling asleep - and believe me, thinking of paint keeps me awake at night when Milo doesn't - is that I should probably go back to white, even though it feels like a lost opportunity to add colour. When we got up I decided to take one more trip to the paint store (walking distance, thank goodness) and came home with tester pots of two whites that are not my trim/cupboard white. Now I'm sitting waiting for the patches to dry but I think I already know the inevitable. The kitchen is trying to tell me it wants to be the original white. After finally getting the perfect appliances, I am painting the walls the very same colour they are. Can you say "tired of painting"? And "tired of frozen dinners"?

Oh nature. I wish you could be my interior designer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

x love

Another hobby? Oh, of course. I can hardly find the time for all the others I have, but you can always use just one more. And it involves a needle, so it's more like half of a new hobby.

I had so much fun with my art show samplers that it was simply a matter of time before I imagined other things to do with little xs (x's? exes? x-es?) This bird is my first step beyond text, though I'm still very fond of cross stitched words. Actually, I just finished a sampler for Ragdoll, but I don't think I'll be sharing it here...I'm even more shy about what this one says. Let's just say it follows the same theme I started in the spring. But back to cleaner subjects, like this bird. Instead of using up pages of graph paper I downloaded a demo version of MacStitch and I can see how this might change my world. Sadie loved it too - we drew birds, tigers and some freehand words and you can immediately preview how it will look on fabric. Perhaps it's cheating a bit, but wow, is it fun. And it saves time, so overall it's win-win. The only thing the software can't account for is the wonky weave I use (instead of Aida cloth or even-weave linen, I use raw silk because, well, raw silk is wonderfully soft and beautiful). But I think I'll still buy the software. The text feature is very cool and I'll soon grow tired of drawing out the pattern on graph paper before shutting down the laptop (the "save" and "print" functions are disabled in the demo version).

So cross stitch projects are now officially added to my very long to-do list. Perfect.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Another vest in the spirit of all things academic. I can't help myself - vests are just way too cute on baby boys. I wrote the pattern up, but I think I'll try a second version at a larger size before sharing it (Milo is I think I'll work with 12 months sizing next). I also want to slightly modify the neckline. I like the seed stitch border on the outer edge and I think repeating it on the inside (therefore making the center panel a bit wider) will just "neaten" the overall look. I can admit it - selvedges are just one of those things I care WAY too much about.

Anyone out there interested in this pattern? Is a 12 month size something you're looking for?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

decision maker

I think the first comment I ever left on a blog was in response to something Lyn at Mollychicken wrote. Her daughter was five and no longer would wear dresses - or at least, dresses of Lyn's choosing. Sadie was only a few months old at the time and even though 5 years old seemed far away, I was surprised at how quickly Lyn's daughter was making her own decisions.

Sadie is now 5. And truthfully, she has been making fashion decisions for some time now, much to my entertainment (and I hope her teacher's). Most days it involves headbands with "stuff" attached, and there's a strong trend of layering different socks over leggings and shorts. Nothing ever matches and no matter how hard I try, I could never come up with the combinations she does. So when I got the Playdate Dress pattern from Oliver + S, I knew Sadie would have to choose the fabric or she would never wear it. And as we sifted through the options at FatQuarterShop, I was totally surprised at her choice. I was expecting her to choose something pink and girly, but she loved this holiday fabric and went for a real red-and-green theme. I didn't even get any say with the buttons. So in the end the dress is nothing like what I would have imagined, but it is utterly and absolutely Sadie (as is pairing the dress with grizzly bear tights).

Speaking of making decisions, Sadie also talked me into cutting her hair. I kept putting it off but she was determined. I shed a few tears when I did it - seriously - but it suits her. And as an added bonus, she looks younger now which helps me when I dwell on how fast this girl is growing up. Insert great big sigh here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

big headed

A little knitting for me and my gigantic head. The pattern called to cast 70 stitches, and I had to do 90 and the final hat is still a wee bit snug. However, I quite like the hat and I may try it again (minus the striping and with a few more increases - this hat is meant to slouch). I found the pattern on Ravelry and it's called the Felicity Hat. It's easy and quick - perfect for fitting in around Hallowe'en preparations, kitchen craziness (our counter is being installed tomorrow and we're ready to tile!) and general baby raising. I used more Sublime Organic Merino and again, I don't love knitting with it but the final product is lovely.

P.S. I've realized that I'm not too far off of Sadie's habit of drawing Milo into every picture - clearly I work his little face into almost every post. It's pure, unadulterated Mommy love. And speaking of Milo (did I mention Milo?), he has just mastered rolling from his back to his belly and back again, at the all-too-young-age of 4 months. So unlike Sadie who was relaxed and didn't care to roll and crawl until she was 8 months old, this guy is ready to go. A sign of things to come?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


First let me say that getting new appliances is really not our style. Big purchases in general are not our style. But we've been in this house for 7 years and I've been drooling over a magazine clipping of this fridge the whole time and we finally just bit the bullet. I spend so much of my time at home in the kitchen and since I'm not entirely happy about that fact, I would like it to be the one room I love the most.

Speaking of love, I heart these appliances. The enamel finish is perfect, and they have totally transformed the room. Our fridge, which stands on its own, is now like a piece of sculpture that we're happy to see from the living room. And while I may not understand how to use a ceramic cooktop yet, or know why the cooling fan goes on while I use the oven, gosh is the stove pretty. When they unwrapped it on the front sidewalk I thought about the neighbours wondering where the Betty Crocker stove came from, because Betty Crocker it is.

And now it's time to go bake something. Thank you Northstar. We'll be using these appliances for the next 30 years or so.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A certain very special girl turned 5 last week (insert heartbroken sigh here). Like every year before, we chose to have a party with Sadie's grandparents and uncles with a solemn promise that next year she can have a kids party. But to help make this year's party more fun we figured we could introduce games. Sadie and I came up with this bingo idea and we really enjoyed putting it together. She drew all the animals and watched while I scanned them (which was an interesting lesson - I could literally see her processing the info). Then I showed her as I set the cards up in Photoshop. I went to a print shop and had the cards printed on cardstock and voila - Sadie's very own bingo game. Her grandparents and uncles loved it and now she can play it with any group of kids (or adults) we have over.

I have a hard time choosing my favourite drawing, but the giraffe in the second photo is pretty awesome...I mean, check out the little boy on the giraffe's back. In true Sadie fashion, Milo had to make an appearance, even in Bingo.

Monday, October 05, 2009

whistling pixie

Okay - this is the cutest hat ever. It's an easy pattern and I finished it in 2 days (yay for quick projects!) I found it through Ravelry after spying Soulemama's adorable son wearing one, and you can find the pattern, called the Pixie Hat, here. The wool I used is Sublime Organic Merino DK and it feels lovely once knit though it wasn't my favourite to knit with. It isn't really spun, so it's easy to miss part of the ply with your needles. But the ribbing is really soft and squishy and I think I'll use the rest to make a hat for myself soon. Obviously Milo is the recipient of all my knitting these days.

Lucky little gnome, isn't he?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

baby t-shirt vest

After a few adjustments I think the pattern is ready! Milo wore the vest all day after our wee photo shoot and it was perfect for this weather plus it really stayed in place. Vests are great over onesies and add that extra bit of warmth without bulk. I don't think the pattern is hard but you do need to be familiar with working in the round and raglan increases. I'm a lazy knitter and don't like seaming. Also working in the round allows you to size as you go - for instance, you can make the body as long as you want here (we all know some babies have long torsos, or tire-sized bellies like my guy). The pattern would be a lot easier if there wasn't a buttoned shoulder, but at this age I like the extra space for getting clothes over a tender noggin'. I've tried to be as clear as possible, but if anyone has questions or suggestions or finds a mistake, please let me know!

Baby T-Shirt Vest

You will need:
DK wool, approx 130yds (I used 1 skein of Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Tweed)
4.5mm needles (16” circ and DPNs)
8 stitch markers ("pm" in pattern stands for place marker)
3 lengths of scrap yarn (for holding stitches)
2 buttons

Gauge 20 stitches over 32 rows = 4” square
Size is roughly 6-9 months, finished dimensions are: 9″ wide, 10” long (or longer – the body is up to you!)

CO 68
R1: K8, pm, K1, pm, K18, pm, K1, pm, K12, pm, K1, pm, K18, pm, K1, pm, K8
R2: (increase row) *K to 1 stitch before marker, KFB into this stitch, slip marker, K1, slip marker, KFB into next stitch* repeat until last marker, slip marker, KFB into next stitch, K to end
R3: K all stitches
R4: (increase row) *K to 1 stitch before marker, KFB into this stitch, slip marker, K1, slip marker, KFB into next stitch* repeat until last marker, slip marker, KFB into next stitch, K to end
R5: K all stitches
R6: K4, P until 4 stitches remain, K4
R7: (increase row with buttonhole) K1, K2tog, yo *K to 1 stitch before marker, KFB into this stitch, slip marker, K1, slip marker, KFB into next stitch* repeat until last marker, slip marker, KFB into next stitch, K to end
R8, R10, R12: K4, P until 4 stitches remain, K4
R9, R11, R13: (increase row) *K to 1 stitch before marker, KFB into this stitch, slip marker, K1, slip marker, KFB into next stitch* repeat until last marker, slip marker, KFB into next stitch, K to end
R14: (buttonhole row) K4, P until 4 stitches remain, K1, yo, K2tog, K1
R15: (increase row) *K to 1 stitch before marker, KFB into this stitch, slip marker, K1, slip marker, KFB into next stitch* repeat until last marker, slip marker, KFB into next stitch, K to end
R16: K4, P until 4 stitches remain, K4
Break yarn (you have ended on WS). 124 st.

Next step, joining in the round. This looks tricky, but essentially the stitches on scrap yarn are the tops of the armholes and the CO stitches are the bottoms, which along with the regular stitches create the body of the vest. Once you join, you get to do some mindless knitting in the round – perfect for watching a movie with!

Here’s the set-up:
Place the first 16 stitches on scrap yarn. Start with vest yarn again and K32, turn work and continue in st st for 6 more rows (ending on the right side). Break yarn. Place the next 28 stitches on scrap yarn. Start with vest yarn again and K32, turn work and continue in st st for 6 more rows. DO NOT break yarn, but place the remaining 16 stitches on scrap yarn. With your vest yarn (that you have not broken!) CO15 stitches and continue knitting across the next 32, CO 15, and knit across the next 32. You have now joined the body and can keep knitting. For this size, I knit about 6” of st st before I started the bottom band.

If you haven’t CO stitches in the middle of a project before, there is a good tutorial here.

When you are ready to start the band, remember that you are knitting in the round and will need to alternate purl and knit rows. You may want to place a marker to remind you where to switch. Do at least 8 rows of purl and knit and bind off purlwise.

LEFT ARMHOLE (the buttoned/open side)
Transfer first 16 stitches on scrap yarn onto your needle, using vest yarn pick up 12 stitiches to get you to the middle of the armhole, pm, pick up another 12 stitches (24 stitches in total) and break yarn. Transfer the remaining 16 stitches from scrap yarn onto your needle – you now have 56 stitches on your needle.

With the wrong side facing you, join yarn.
R1: knit.
R2: knit to 3 stitches before marker, K2tog, KI, slip marker, K1, K2tog, knit to end.
R3: knit.
R4: knit to 4 stitches before marker, K2tog, K2, slip marker, K2, K2tog, knit to end.
R5: BO all stitches.

RIGHT ARMHOLE (knit in the round)
Place all 28 stitches from scrap yarn onto 2 DPNs. Determine the bottom center of the armhole and start picking up 12 stitches from this point until you reach the first DPN. Knit across all 28 stitches and then pick up another 12 until you meet up with where you started. PM.
R1: purl.
R2: K1, K2tog and knit to 3 stitches before marker, K2tog, KI.
R3: purl.
R4: K2, K2tog and knit to 4 stitches before marker, K2tog, K2.
R5: BO all stitches purlwise.

Weave in the loose ends and you’re done. No seams to finish, hooray!

Monday, September 28, 2009

brother love

Sadie is back to school and she comes home with a new drawing every day. The truly fantastic thing is that she puts Milo in each one! In the masterpiece above, she is a ballerina (of course) and when I asked what was on Milo's head, she matter-of-factly replied, "Mama, he's a cowboy". Well, of course - how couldn't I see that? I don't know why the arrows, the raining hearts, or the red clouds but I'm framing this one. It makes my heart explode.

Oh, and she also brought home from school a wicked cold which has chosen Milo and I as its current hosts. All crafting has been put on hold until I can distance myself from a kleenex box.

Friday, September 18, 2009

crafter's ADD

I've come down with WIP-itus. Starting everything all at once and not quite finishing anything substantial (the head kerchief was a much-needed fix to feel like I was completing something). In order: 1) a quilt top in crib dimensions, but mainly to be used on the sofa to save the slipcover from endless washings (Milo is a bit of a spitter); 2) the second t-shirt vest to test the pattern (and I've made an adjustment to allow for deeper armholes); 3) head kerchief to help with no-time-to-blow-dry hair days and 4) paint chips for repainting the kitchen. As for the paint, Sadie and I are leaning to the second from the top chip, called "mountain air" (we visited Ragdoll's BEAUTIFULLY renovated home and this colour graces her main floor - and we both thought it was lovely. Sadie talks very seriously about colour with me. She is definitely my girl.) Lots to finish and do - I mean, how does one paint with two small children around? Or baste a quilt?

Perhaps it's time to call in reinforcements.

Friday, September 11, 2009

operation: hide belly

I'm rather self-conscious about my belly these days. I admit, I was very lucky after having Sadie because my normal body returned quickly. This time...not so much. For example, I'm discreetly still wearing my maternity jeans. And it turns out that every non-maternity shirt I own is fitted, so unless I want another Old Navy salesperson describing me to my husband as "the pregnant lady", I'm not wearing them. Sewing machine to the rescue.

Both of these shirts are from the same Simplicity pattern (3790). I prefer the top one for the yoke, but the bottom one is getting worn more often. Also it's made from hemp jersey that I ordered from Gaia Fabrics, and I'm really happy with the fabric. It's a Canadian company and the colour is dyed to order (I chose "bark"). I'd like to order their heavy hemp jersey next, and perhaps some muslin for quilting (I'm only struggling with which colour to order). The other shirt is linen, also nice, and I went bias tape crazy after watching Angry Chicken's tutorial. Next on my sewing to-do list is a dress for Sadie for her birthday. How is it possible that she's turning 5? But hopefully by the time I get back to sewing for myself I'll be less worried about my belly. Meaning: time for the less-baking-more-exercise regime to begin. Bleck.

(P.S. the Baby T-Shirt Vest pattern is being written - I promise. I started over-thinking garment sizing, but I'm just going to post the 6-month size for now and work on other sizes after.)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

have boy, will knit

Milo sure has become my little model. Suddenly I'm knitting way more for a boy than I ever did for Sadie as a baby - I think hearing that patterns for boys were harder to come by has challenged me deep down and I'm getting obsessed with what I can make for him. This vest idea has been in my head for a while and this time I actually kept track of what I did. I wanted it to have t-shirt styling and - of course - raglan seams. I'm pretty happy with it, though Milo needs a little more growing before he can wear it.

My big question is: would anyone be interested in the pattern? I'm going to try it once more with a different wool and needle size, and possibly ribbed edges, but my plan is to write up the pattern and make it available. Is it the kind of vest little girls and boys out there would like?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

more raglan love

Yellow cardigan finished! I was inspired by Louisa Harding's "Geordie Stripe Yoke Jacket", but thanks to my baby brain, I didn't have the focus to follow the pieced pattern instructions. Enter the reliable raglan shaped, top-down method of knitting: I didn't have to think once the stitches were calculated, and it was very easy to pick up for a minute here and there. The yarn is Lion Brand Cotton Ease in soft yellow and gray. I know I can be a yarn snob, but this yarn is so practical and soft, plus it's really inexpensive. The palette is quite nice too, which makes it a great choice for baby items. The sweater is a little big for Milo now, but should fit him fine when the cool weather hits. And I think it is screaming for a matching hat...the kind with ear flaps and ties under the chin. This one perhaps? Or this?

Monday, August 24, 2009

t-shirt recycling

As soon as we knew our baby was a boy, Jay handed me some t-shirts to turn into onesies (to be fair, I had suggested the idea to him but the whole "boy" thing made it an instant good idea). I've been having a hard time getting into the sewing room, but over at least six 10-15 minute sessions, I finally got one done.

This t-shirt had already been cut down into the graphics from the front and back so I had to use other jersey to make the shorts and edging. I left the connection at the waist rough because it seemed to suit the shirt's style. And I tried to maximize the "Groo" graphics as much as I could, working some into a sleeve too. The onesie fits Milo really well and I agree with Jay - it's totally his coolest outfit. Now, only 3 more t-shirts to go!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

road tripping

It wasn't anything like our vacation last summer, but road trips are always fun. And I can say this even with an 8 week-old and a car that seems no bigger than a Radio Flyer wagon.

For 3 days and 2 nights we covered a lot of Ontario ground, though it's pretty funny where we spent our nights. Yes, we live in Toronto, and yes, we stayed at a hotel in Kitchener. But they had an awesome saltwater pool and in-room movies, plus we didn't have to clean up after ourselves...which helped with the whole faux-vacation vibe.

As for the ground we covered: we checked out the Aberfoyle Market near Guelph, the undeveloped beaches and Heritage Main Street in Bayfield, the Bayfield Berry Farm, the manicured beaches and hexagon-shaped downtown of Goderich, the amazing Farmer's Market in St. Jacobs, the covered bridge in West Montrose, and we drove through the cute towns of Elmira, Elora and Fergus. We stopped at a few thrift stores, random antique shops and made the one stop that sent us on this journey in the first place - Elmira Stoveworks (we wanted to check out the retro fridge we've been debating for over a year). With all these stops it felt like we'd been gone for days.

Oh, and don't let the photo fool you - both kids had a great time. I think.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Eight weeks has already gone by and like every mother before me, I wonder where the time has gone. Milo is wearing 6 month size clothes and is a solid, happy guy. Sadie is home with us full time and I'm slowly learning how to manage Milo's naps. But somehow this is all that I do, if you throw in a load of laundry a day and making sure we're all fed. Nothing else is getting done and I'm really itching to be creative.

Don't get me wrong - I'm savouring every moment of this babyhood, and I'm so much more relaxed this time around. And I love the funny little moments with a baby, like when Milo finishes eating and uses my boob as a pillow (officially the best use of a boob, second only to actually feeding offspring). I haven't had blue days or any sleep anxiety, I simply wish I could knit a little more. Sew a bit. Read something. Write thank you cards. That sort of thing.

Admittedly a tiny bit of knitting is happening, thanks to some car rides. The proof is in the final photo, and I really hope to have this cardigan finished tomorrow. I don't intend for the blog to become all about my kids (oh my god, I have "kids") so a finished project would be nice. As an added bonus, it also means I get to start something new.