Monday, April 14, 2014

Gah. Winter.

Anyone who's paying attention knows that this winter has an attitude.  Up here in Eastern Canada, it's obnoxious.

Snowstorm followed by ice pellets and freezing rain, followed by another blizzard. We'd been getting better, after a total of fifteen snow days... and this morning I took N. to the bus stop in freezing rain and spiky daggery ice pellet-y nastiness.

Don't get me wrong, I do love winter. I can't imagine living in a place without seasons. This year has been an extreme example of winter, though, and it's getting me down.

I think part of it comes from being car-free and so far away from hubby while going through it. Past winters like this meant curling up together after N. is in bed, with tea and knitting, working on papers. Long walks in the snow in pedestrian-friendly cities are replaced with days housebound here on the top of the hill, unable to explain to N. why the weather is too awful to go outside.

Our March break trip helped break up the monotony, but had its own issues... and life goes on long after the vacation ends.

But, no matter what George R. R. Martin might think, winter can't last forever, and April can't help but be cheerful. Easter is coming, along with my niece's first birthday. Then a week later, N. & I share a birthday weekend, and my SIL's is a few days after that. I also have reason to think things are looking up, because there's talk of Hubs being extended... the uncertainty still gives me anxiety, but it looks like things are going in the right direction.

Now if I can trade my snow shovel long term for needles (of any sort), I'll be fine.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Still alive...

It seems like I can't keep a posting run going for very long, best intentions notwithstanding....

All is moving along in the nutter household.  I finished a second knitted bunny for my younger niece's birthday next month, and will have an extra dress for each of them.  Productivity comes in fits and starts, though; we've been battling sickness for a while and it's been an energy suck.  Bad colds, flu like symptoms, and one bout of rotavirus for the kiddo resulting in a day off school have all made me just want to sleep for days.

As we head into March Break, I'm trying to decide whether to take kiddo on a small road trip.  Our finances won't allow us to fly to see Hubby, but a morning's worth of a bus ride will bring us to my bestie from high school... and at about 15% of the cost, it's completely affordable right now.  I'm still on the fence, but being without a car limits our options, and my friend has museum passes burning holes in her pockets, so it's very tempting.  Not sure how I feel about a bus ride for hours without an iPad or a place to plug in the miniDVD player, but still... very tempting...


Monday, February 3, 2014

A home needs a cat ;-)

Vims. Aka Minou. Aka Minounou. Aka Nunu. Aka Nuuners. Aka Noodle. ;-) Sweetest cat ever <3

Bunny goodness and paying for patterns...

To go along with the high level of productivity this weekend, I finished everything on this project save the back seam on the dress by 4pm on Sunday. She's my first completed project with fair isle, and I'm in love.  I finished her right after dinner, seamed and pressed and ready to go; more photos soon!


These patterns from Little Cotton Rabbits (the bunny girl, who comes with her own dress, and the extra dresses in the supplemental) cost $7 and $8.80, respectively (approx CDN exchange when I purchased them) and were worth every penny.  I have limited resources at the moment, but my output was less than $16, I've knit entirely from stash and will be able to do so for a long time.  This week I'm hoping to make another one so my nieces will each have their own bunny, and it's a pattern I can see myself making again and again.  Cascade 220 works perfectly for the bunny body, and I just pulled some Socks that Rock for her clothes and shoes.  With so many sock yarn leftovers (in my case, hanging around because of Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jackets), the options for bunny clothes are endless...

Now, I consider myself to be a fairly competent knitter, and I rarely have trouble following pattern instructions, but sometimes construction is so fiddly on things like this that I just give up.  This time, I found myself back in that space where you just want to knit one more row, complete one more part, just sew up the back before dinner, etc. This project had mojo to spare, and I think it was the quality of the pattern writing.  There are progress photos for every step that's even remotely unusual, and the written directions are detailed enough that you can get past the "trust the pattern and just go forward" to "I can see what's happening before it happens!"  It was so enjoyable that I didn't notice my hands protesting at the tight gauge, or that I had dozens of ends to weave in ;)

I had an epiphany a few years ago when I became good friends with Stacey at FreshStitches.  Until that point, I don't think I'd purchased a pattern pdf for anything, knit or crochet.  I had a couple of books, but in my mind, they were worth purchasing because of the solid, substantial *thing* you get to hold in your hand, the extensive photography, and how pretty they looked on my bookshelf.  I thought, why would I pay for a pattern downloaded off the internet? Isn't the internet free? (I know, I know, nothing's free ;) )  There's no additional effort on the designers' parts if I click download one more time.  And oh, how wrong I was...

I was able to watch her process (I was fortunate enough to spend some time as a pattern tester for her, which I am so thankful for in my financial situation), and I learned what goes into producing a well-written, clearly laid out, and esthetically pleasing pattern.  The hours that go into designs are real, and designers' time is worth fair compensation.  Stacey's patterns allowed a novice crocheter like me to make gifts for friends and family that look polished and professional, and didn't take hours and hours.  I could apply my time efficiently because she'd put in the time and energy to produce a great pattern.  The same thing happened with Abby Glassenberg's sewing patterns - several of which I've tried in the last year... my limited budget goes to pattern purchasing, and I sew from stash and end up with lovely things like owls for my younger niece, or the most perfect soft fleece bunnies that are just begging to be given to newborns.  And this week I've found same thing applies to these wonderful knitted bunnies.  If I'm being honest, knitting is my first love, and it's so rewarding to be able to use my knitting skills to make something so precious.

I believe it's so important to support designers who give us products and patterns we love...  I also know that when you find a pattern, free or otherwise, you often get what you pay for (the only exception to this is when some of my beloved designers release free patterns as part of yarn collections or promotions - a good designer won't sacrifice quality when releasing a freebie).  So support your favourite designers if you can.  It's an investment in the quality of your own creations, and in future patterns for things you'll love.


And since this already sounds so much like a paid advertisement, which it isn't... here gathered in a list are my favourite designers and the patterns that I love :)

FreshStitches has my favourite dinosaur for little boys, and owl for little girls (although you could make either for either ;)) and her new book Modern Baby Crochet is brilliant - the funky argyle afghan is to die for...

Abby Glassenberg at While She Naps has two patterns (1 and 2) for a total of eight soft fleece loveys, and the adorable owl and baby

Little Cotton Rabbits has the bunny girl, her extra dress wardrobe, and my next purchase may be the fox boy (assuming my little boy doesn't grow up too fast and would still appreciate one of these!)


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Colorwork adventure! (?)

First real colorwork project... fair isle, not intarsia... on US2's... knit flat.

Good idea? or the road to madness?

;)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finished bunnies

I just realized I hadn't posted photos of the bunnies!! Here are the first three... I made a fourth one morning before visiting a new baby that afternoon and didn't take a photo... Pattern at Abby Glassenberg's While She Naps Etsy shop ;)





A snow day sewing project

Using a great pattern from Abby Glassenberg at While She Naps, I put together this little owl and baby for my niece :-)

This is the second pattern I've made of hers (the first has been used for at least four bunny loveys), and they are fantastic.  I've been sewing for nearly thirty years, mostly self taught, and Abby's tips are great. Using a shorter stitch length to navigate curves? So logical, but I never thought of it :-) Her patterns are so well laid out that they're a joy to sew.

And just so I can sound like a total infomercial...

If I haven't said it before, Abby's patterns will give you great mileage. Makes me want to pressure friends and family to have babies so I can make gifts for everyone.

Can't wait til next month to visit my nieces!


ETA: fixed link to Lovey Dovey Pattern and Stella the Owl :) and changed spacing... silly mobile app...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Popping up with an FO

Time to get back on the horse... with a doily that was started an obscene amount of time ago... finished as a centerpiece for my mom's table.  Hopefully enough of a kickstart to keep me going.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Growing up

Sometimes it shocks me... how something as simple as a haircut can remind me how big my boy is getting.


Monday, January 6, 2014

And on Sunday they rested...

I missed yesterday, and I have a whole host of excuses ;)  I was on the phone with Hubby quite a bit, as he was getting ready for his first day of teaching today.  We also skyped several times during the day - he doesn't have internet at home yet (hopefully tonight), so we've had to content ourselves with seeing him while at the office working on lectures.

I've also finally decided to try out Netflix, and set myself a list of a handful of TV series to watch that I've missed out on the past few years... turns out I was watching the wrong stuff ;)  I had every intention of sampling 5 or 6 pilot episodes over the next while, but I'm ashamed to say that I stopped at the first one... and I'm three episodes into Downton Abbey with no signs of stopping.  I'm not going to throw my list completely out the window, but for now I'm obsessed with Maggie Smith...


N. is back in school this morning, and I'm feeling a bit lost... I still haven't narrowed down my projects yet, and I'm afraid if I don't I'll just end up knitting dishcloths to send to Hubby in care packages... but knitting is knitting, I suppose.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sparkly sunshine

Early morning sun through our very frosty window...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Brrrrrrrrrrrr...

Today we were walloped with the latest in a series of blizzards that have been plaguing us since the fall, so not much exciting happened... we were pretty much stuck inside all day.  Little Bro and SIL came home from work early, and I thought they would stay put at their house 3km away since the police were warning people to stay off the roads... but they showed up on our doorstep right before dinner :)  Their cars were stuck, so they bundled up and hiked over so they could take N. outside to play in the snow.

The snow, however, looked like this:


...and N. was having none of it.  Too cold, too windy, the sled was in danger of blowing away... so he came inside 90 seconds later.  Little Bro and SIL stayed out for 30 mins, though; they rebuilt N.'s snowfort and we all ate dinner together (minus Hubby, who was dealing with his own wintry issues out west - windchill near -50 Celsius and no car)... It's a damn good thing we booked him to fly out on Wednesday, since everything today up and down the eastern seaboard is pretty much shuttered.

A couple of fun photos before I sign off for the evening... it's still snowing and blowing out there, so I'll be up early to help shovel in the morning.

Icicles outside yesterday, before the blizzard hit

N. and I waiting in the car on Monday for Hubby to finish the final bits of banking before taking off New Years Day

Mom and Dad's cat Nunu (N. thinks she's our cat), very upset that Hubby was leaving.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Something pretty

Not much to report on this second day of the year, but I thought I'd share with you a piece of embroidery that we came across last fall in the cleaning spree:



This was made by my grandmother's sister, as a gift for my grandmother's wedding back in the 1940's.  You can't tell from the photo since I was too derpy to include something for scale, but this motif is somewhere around three feet tall.  It's a large piece of heavy linen that's intended to be a bedspread.  I could practice for decades and never get satin stitch that beautiful :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1st

Hubby has landed, 4000km away. His luggage, all three large suitcases, made it with him; I choose to see this as a good sign ;) He also had a warm welcome (in -50C windchill!) from my mom's baby sister, who scooped him up at the airport, fed him lasagna, and put him back on the shuttle because his new university is in the second largest city that's 2.5 hrs away from the closest airport.

N. is having a bit of a rough time... he's excited and proud that Daddy's going to be a teacher, but he can't understand why the university isn't paying for our plane tickets to go too.  Combine that with waking up at 4am to say goodbye and not sleeping and you get a very unhappy boy.

Luckily he's sound asleep and we get to Skype with Daddy in the morning...

As for me, I'm trying to keep it together, collect my thoughts, and start thinking about what to work on next. I need a project, stat.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Rambly Christmas!

Still alive... still alive... if I keep repeating it, it must be true, right?

So many posts started and stopped... life is humming along in some sort of twisted parody of what I expect it to be.

Long story very short - Christmas (yay!), temporary teaching contract for Hubby (yay!), said contract is four provinces west of here (boo!) and we've decided to have kiddo finish out grade Primary here for continuity's sake (yay!/boo!/huh?).

*sigh*

I'm putting Hubby on a plane in a week.  He had a great interview in September, for a sabbatical replacement position.  He got the position, and by all accounts he got it by a landslide, which is fantastic.  He's such a great teacher, so it was a boost for him.  It's not permanent, but we're crossing our fingers that it leads to something... at the very least, it will really help with his professional teaching experience.

The downside is that it means more time apart.  I don't want to move kiddo more than once in a year unless absolutely necessary, and unless it's for something more permanent.  He's flourishing in school here, and we all agree that pulling him out mid year, then having to pull him out of somewhere else, wouldn't be good.  He understands that Daddy is going to be a teacher, and he's chosen some wonderful things to send with Daddy and to keep here.  He even picked out a tie for Hubby to wear his first day (and it's not too bad!).  The months over the summer that we were apart were difficult, but N. handled it like a champ.  He knows that we talk to Daddy every day we're apart, and that we'll be together as soon as we can.  It's hard, but we can do it.

I have no illusions about the relative level of difficulty that we face... I'm surrounded by help here, and it's so much easier than it could be.  My mom watches N. so I can go to the gym and keep my sanity as intact as possible; my brother and SIL invite us over for movie nights - their house has rooms and beds for everyone, and it's an adventure for N to have super! sleepover! weekend!  I have a great kid who adapts to whatever I throw at him.  The whole thing makes me appreciate in some very small measure what families go through when one parent works across the country, or one is deployed, and I don't even go through a fraction of what they do.

So, I keep my mom-hat on, do the best I can to keep N. safe, happy, and healthy, and try to maintain myself on an even keel while supporting Hubby in his goal to be the best college teacher he can be.

Whew. Glad to get all that out. ;)

On the creative front, it's been busy in some respects but quiet in others... I only knit one pair of mittens, made a couple dozen crochet ornaments, handmade all our Christmas cards, and had to switch gears.  I've spent the last six weeks baking.  Baking baking baking.  Cookies, cake, squares, more cookies... and I'm totally done with sugar.  I told my mom I wanted meat and salt for the next two weeks.  No carbs, no butter.  Just protein and sodium.  I'm not sure what I'll take on in the new year, but I'm allowing myself time to decide.  Spending the next week packing up Hubby is going to take up enough brain power, methinks.

I hope to devote a little bit of brain power to creating, whether it be sewing, writing, knitting, crochet, papercraft, or something I just haven't thought of yet.  I've a pretty good stash of supplies here - in the course of storing all our things from the postdoc years in and amongst stuff here, I've found things that I'd forgotten - mainly paper and paints - so there's no shortage of *free* things to do... I just need to find my mojo again.

I hope everyone's having a great winter-holiday-of-choice, and that whatever weather you have is seasonally appropriate for your mood... and that the new year ahead is full of promise in the most unexpected ways...

Back soon... promise.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More sewing!

Popping back up to say I managed to get a bit of sewing done this morning :-)

I do need to figure out how to manage links and things using the mobile app, but if you're desperate to know more about this pattern, Google Abby Glassenberg Lovey to find it...

... and prepare to use lots of pins :-)  Fleece is pretty easy to handle, but does benefit from pinning every 1/4" or more!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Actual crafting?!?

So excited to say I actually started a little project last night... an Abby Glassenberg lovey for a friend's baby, which is actually my fourth from this pattern.  Hopefully more details and photos soon!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Still here...

I'm still trying to get used to this new phone, but it's coming...

I finally have Hubby in the same place as the rest of us, and we're sorting through the junk that followed us from the old apartment.  N. is enjoying school immensely (as you can see from that happy face), and I'm hoping to dump my memory card soon and write a proper post.

But now, I'm getting ready to go to the movies with hubby for the first time in months :-)  More soon!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A smart phone, you say?

A mobile app,  you say? Wonder if it works...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Things that are happening in my life today...

My sainted husband is packing up the last bits of our life in the old apartment.  He's stressed, and my heart is aching because I can only support him via phone and skype.  I don't know if he'll meet his self-imposed deadline of tonight, but I need to stay optimistic.

I'm eating pierogy.  Because, pierogy.

While Hubby packs, I'm sitting in the livingroom of my parents' house finally sorting through the remainder of my grandmother's things.  There are cuts of vintage fabric, dress gloves, scarves, costume jewelry, and all the tablecloths, bureau scarves, hankies, etc. that she embroidered over the years (that hadn't been gifted to family and friends).  Even though my camera is horrible, and the light is dull, I'm documenting it as best as I can.  Her handiwork is impeccable, and it takes my breath away.  I put her gloves on, and looked down; my hands became her hands, and I felt like a 4 year old watching her smooth the fabric before heading out to church.  I need to dump the camera soon and get some of it up :)

And... drinking coffee... catching up on episodes of RHONJ (guilty pleasure!) that I missed over the past little while... enjoying the sound of the rain.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A few minutes of (relative) quiet

*sigh* time to slog out the update for the last weeks (or could it be months?!)...

Full disclosure, this post is likely to be rambly and a bit melancholy and silly and self-pitying, so if you want to pass on it, I'll put it behind the break and totally understand :)  I promise more crafty posts soon, along with tales of Kindergarten/Grade Primary adventures...