Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fear of the mommy blog

     It appears I have a strong fear of conventionality, or at the very least, conventional titles.  When I was engaged, I would rather gag than refer to my guy as my "fiance". From this I graduated to giggling every time I used the word "husband" and rolling my eyes every time my post-nuptials vacation was labeled a "honeymoon".  Now I find myself just days (probably) away from becoming someone's mother and perhaps it's time to get over it?
     This blog has not been stalled for lack of content. As a matter of fact, I have oodles of things to show you and talk about.  No, dear reader, this blog has been stalled by fear.  Fear of the "mommy blog"! Here I go again with my labeling issues.  There's something about adding the word "mommy" to things that I just find so off-putting. Mommy-and-me swim time!  Mommies in motion exercise class!  Mommy sing-along group!  I could get into a whole feminist rant about how the title "mommy" reduces a woman to a singular role, de-sexualized and one-dimensional, but I think the ladies of SNL put it best:

     Now hey, don't get me wrong. I don't think the instant I give birth I'm going to develop a penchant for wearing pleated jeans (I made that mistake in 1990 and I'm never going back). I just don't want my blog to go from cool crafty content to; "Guess who pooped in the potty today?!".  

     The thing is, being pregnant for 10 months (Yes 10. 9 months is a lie. It's actually 40 weeks!) keeps baby thoughts at the forefront of your mind.  And what knitter/sewer/crafter/generally artsy kinda gal isn't going to create stuff for their baby-to-be?  

     To make a long story short, in order to show you all the crafty goodness I've been up to, I run the risk of turning this into a (shudder) "mommy blog"!  So let's throw caution to the wind and look at some baby crap!

Tiny dresses!

Formerly a Liberty of London for Target scarf

     Converting my "studio" into a baby room (I also hate the word "nursery". Seriously, what's wrong with me?) required a pretty ruthless purge of my fabric, yarn and craft supplies.  While a lot went out the door, suddenly those little bits of nice fabric I thought too small to really be much use became incredibly useful - baby dresses!

     My fabric purge had me assign projects to anything I wanted to keep, which really gets you motivated to turn raw materials into finished goods!  I made both of these dresses from a free pattern I found on Pinterest (hallowed be thy name) - you can find it here .

A use for that rick-rack I can never seem to part with!
     The pattern is really quick and easy.  My only concern is the tiny sleeves.  I opted not to add the elastic to the sleeves as suggested in the pattern after noticing how teeny the openings were.  We've all seen those chubby little arms and legs with the extra rolls and folds only the under-3 set can get away with, right?  I certainly don't want a skinny baby (so wrong!), but I hope her little arms will fit in these dresses!

     So there you have it. Running the risk of mommy-blogdom, I'll be posting much more baby content to come. Bear with me and my neuroses.  I didn't even get into my tormented decision to by Birkenstocks for my swollen feet!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Circle in the Square goes round n' round

     One of the advantages of taking an extended break from blogging, is having a plethora of finished craft projects pile up to talk about. Rather than unveil the project I finished first, I'd like to revisit the project I started first:

     This is the first afghan I've ever made.  I was beginning to wonder if I would ever finish it.  Funny thing is, the very thing that put a wrench in the project in the first place is what ended up helping me in the home stretch: injury.

     The first time I took a hiatus from this blanket I was forced to do so because of an achy wrist.  At that same time, I sprained my ankle running for the streetcar.  It was an achy-breaky time not suitable for crocheting.  In the time since, I've picked up the project here and there but never spent any "quality time" with it. What brought me back?  Another injury. Yes, apparently I'm teetering around on ankles made of glass.

     A couple of weeks ago I was stepping off the bus, rolled my ankle, and before I knew it I was laid up on my couch, ankle elevated and ice-packed. (Yes, I was wearing heels. Save your lecture about pregnancy and impractical footwear!). While the sprain was painful, it turns out three days of limited mobility is all it takes to complete an afghan!

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in Mercury, Aquarium, Winter White, Jade Heather, Lemongrass, Peacock, Bright Red, Water Chesnut, and Rich Red.
Hook: 5.5mm (I went up a hook size 'cuz I'm a tight hooker - tee-hee!)
Notes/Mods: I made the blanket pretty much as written, I just changed all the colours. The pattern has you make 4 different motifs, but I just made two different motifs and alternated them.  

      I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out.  There's a lot of bad crocheted afghans out there but I think this one is modern and fun.  While it shouldn't take the year and half it took me to complete this baby, an afghan really is a lot of work. I don't think I'll be making another one any time soon but it feels fantastic to get a long lingering U.F.O. off my plate.

A cozy wool blanket just in time for summer!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Colour Happy

In my first year at art school I think I was the only person who loved colour theory class.  I loved learning I could mix any paint colour under the sun using the process primaries.  I loved learning how to manipulate colour, how colours work together and why.  I guess it's a bit of a nerdy fascination. 

  Through Pinterest (y'all are over there at Pinterest now, right?) I discovered Design Seeds and have become mildly obsessed with Jessica's colour palettes inspired from photographs.  Now I know there are "apps for that", but if you know you're way around photoshop, it's pretty easy to create your own photo palettes.  Here are a few of my very own palettes made with my very own photos - so satisfying!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Knit to be square, er, cubed?

While I have always lusted after knitted poufs ala Christien Meindertsma and Pickles, I've never got around to making one. I find myself questioning just how functional these poufs are. Depending on what you stuff one with, can you really use it as a seat? A footstool? Does it get mashed out of shape? When you live in a small space like I do, bringing in a new piece of furniture, not matter how small, takes careful consideration. Enter: the knitted storage cube.

Okay, so it's covered in knitting, not constructed of knitting,
but you know what I mean.

I used to keep my couch-side knitting in a vintage vanity case. It was cute and all, but unless I was working on something small the case was constantly over-flowing. Kind of defeats the purpose of "hiding" your knitting project away, doesn't it? I'd often thought of purchasing a cheap storage ottoman but brown pleather? Boring!

Using this ottoman from good ole' Crappy Tire and some stash Lopi I've made myself a new knitting caddy!

"PATTERN" NOTES: With 3 strands of bulky lopi together (this is stuff I found at a thrift store that I'm sure is a long discontinued colour) I did some experimenting with needle size until I got a swatch of fabric I liked (12mm was the winner if you're curious). I measured the sides of the cube from floor to the overhang of the lid, then multiplied that number by my stitches per inch to get my cast-on number. After that I just knit a big piece of stockinette until it fit around my ottoman. Without casting off, I grafted the live stitches to my first row to make a tube, then hot glued 'er to the cube. Cube tube!

For the lid, I worked the same math magic and knit a square piece of stockinette to measure the same size as the top - this time I cast off. Then with a circular needle I picked up stitches evenly around the edge of the square and knit in garter stitch until it measured the same as the sides of the ottoman lid. More hot glue and Bob's your uncle.

Now I have a place to tuck my knitting away that can hold a whole afghan, all of my needles and notions AND I can put my feet on it. Yay multi-function!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Pregnant pause

It was beginning to dawn on me that perhaps my blogging days were over. I hadn't blogged in months. Not for lack of content mind you, just lack of interest. The careful taking of pictures, the editing and resizing, the choosing of words... it all seemed exhausting. But then again, everything seemed exhausting. You see, if you look back on my last posts you'll notice I got married, then honeymooned... so what's the next logical step?

Ah yes, the posting of an ultrasound picture on the internet. If there's an upside to the upheaval pregnancy has on your system, it makes an awfully nice excuse for everything. Oh crap, I forgot your birthday? Sorry, baby brain! You want me help you move? Sorry, not supposed to do heavy lifting! You want me to come to see your experimental prog/metal/funk band? Sorry, I really need my sleep!

Honestly though, it wasn't until I realized that I started this blog in 2006, almost six whole years ago, that I thought it would be a real shame to let it die. So without further ado, let's get caught up on what's I've been up to around here between naps and frequent trips to the bathroom.

During the frenzy of the Missoni for Target collection last fall, I was inspired to whip up my own chevron-stripe creation.

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in 77219 Seafoam, 00226 Black, 77514 Sesame, 77615 Yellow, 00238 Paprika, 00202 Aran, 00231 Chestnut Brown
Pattern: My own design I'm calling "Ottavio" as a nod to the Missoni family (possibly a pattern to come, but don't hold me to that - um, baby brain?).

I made this hat back in November and it hardly left my head all winter. I've got a lot of catching up to do, so I'll keep this post short and sweet. Besides, I've got to pee!

Sunday, November 06, 2011


It was the end of daylight savings time, that lovely time of year when we can all make like Cher and turn back time. Despite the advent of 4:30 sunsets, I was thrilled to have an extra hour on Sunday to dedicate to blogging. Blame seasonal affective disorder (NOT seasonal affected disorder) on my inability to finish the post for two whole weeks. Can I get some love and understanding? Do you believe in life after failure to blog? Can the beat go on? How do I fit gypsies, tramps and thieves into this? Maybe I'll just turn to something else Cher is no stranger to: sequins!

In what must be a record-breaking turnaround, I have managed to knit souvenir yarn into a finished object within a month of purchase. 30 days! That's like, standard invoice turnaround!

Pattern: Made 'er up.
Yarn: Sequin-spangled cotton yarn I brought back from Germany, striped with wool sock yarn picked up ages ago at a thrift store.(I guess you could call it a half breed?)
Needles: 3mm and 3.75mm circulars (magic loop)

This yarn was screaming beret and I listened. I figured the sequins would be pretty scratchy around the 'ole noggin, so I opted to use wool for the ribbing. When a co-worker suggested striping the wool in with the sequin yarn I thought it was a bang-up idea. It's a good thing I listened too, because by the time I started the decreases that little cone of yarn was looking mighty thin. I finished the beret with just a few meters to spare!

I'm thrilled to have a shiny little whisper of a hat to wear before the real warm woolies of winter are needed. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to like it!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Honeymoon Part 3: Germany

Ich bin ein Berliner!

Arriving in Berlin to see a Marimekko store directly across the street from our hotel, I knew I was in trouble. I'm convinced Berlin is the birthplace of "hipster". I saw a guy walking down the street in a full mechanic-style coverall - Somehow, he pulled off this look without looking like an extra from Grease. If you like a 5 shoe stores on every block (I do!), the Scheunenviertel may be for you.

So what does a young couple do in a European capital dripping with history? Visit museums of course:

Clockwise from top left: The Ramones Museaum repro CBGB's style awning/
Outtakes from the Ramones album cover shoot showing Dee-dee stepping in poo/
Promo needles and pins-uh/Leaving our mark in the guestbook.

Why there is a Ramones Museum in Berlin and not NYC is beyond me. Of course, we couldn't leave Berlin without checking out some local history too:

Clockwise from top left: The Trabant: East Germany's sexiest ride!/
Re-creation of a typical east German apartment at the DDR museum/Bits of the wall/
The un-monument at the site of Hitler's bunker and "grave": a low-key sign in a parking lot
The very monumental holocaust memorial

But wait, didn't we visit yarn and record stores? Of course we did. Who's vacation do you think you're looking at?

I should mention my husband's affinity for collecting extends beyond records. On the left is his happiest place on earth, the Taschen store. On the right, compulsive flea-market purchases leave the collector sad at the prospect of hauling 10 tonnes of books and records back to Canada. (I had considerably lighter baggage, but only after curbing my appetite for giant European fashion magazines)

Handmade Berlin had a couple of Ruth Marshal's knitted animal pelts on display - cool!

Somehow, shopping in Berlin left me with very few actual German souvenirs. I bought yarn from Italy and Japan...

At left: Italian cotton/sequin yarn. Right: Laceweight Japanese yarn
(yes, it's Noro - a cashmere blend - yum!)
...fabric from Finland...

...and boots from Spain.
Fabulous handmade Vialis boots!

My only truly Berlin souvenir? A couple of tiny Ampelmännchen ornaments for my Christmas tree.That's a wrap folks! My "honeymoon". Two weeks, 3 countries, 6 planes and a whole lotta fun.