Saturday, April 30, 2011


Despite the fact that is was a Saturday, I pulled my sorry but out of bed at 7 a.m. ( I don't even get up at 7 a.m. on a work day!!!) and was up a Mom's by 8.

We were off to the Frolic!

Even though Toronto is only an hour away (and I work there every day now) we've never been to the Knitter's Frolic. We talked about going last year, but just never did.

We hummed and hawed about going this year. We don't need more yarn. We dye our own and almost everything else we can get from our LYS.

But Mom was on the look out for some new Japanese Stitch books, so we decided what the heck.

But what did I want?

Something different.

Something I love.

Oooooooooooooh......pure silk...... perhaps something from Hand Maiden?

We have lots of lovely bases, but we don't have anything that's 100 % silk.

So that was my intent.

The Frolic was PACKED!!! We had to use a little creativity to get a parking spot (poor Stella - I'm sorry about the grass stains). Inside was wall-to-wall knitters, all clamouring over beautiful, pettable yarns and fibres.

I brought my camera - but only ended up taking one picture:That's Mom (far left) and our LYS owner Julie (far right) who had a booth at the Frolic (some random knitter in the middle). I love how they are all in a similar shade of green.

Mom found her Japanese stitch books. And I did find my silk.This is Willow Street Silk - 100 % silk, "sourced from the leftovers of a luxury goods manufacturing process." There were so many colours to choose from - but in the end I was feeling very natural (unusual for me, I usually all about the colour) so I went with "Guernsey." This, of course, is destined to become a shawl - I'm thinking Icarus or Swallowtail, maybe.

And, despite the fact that I had found what I came for - you just know a few other items followed me home.

These little skeins were especially hard to resist (and obviously I didn't).The Black Lamb, Classic Bunny 0 A 60/40 merino/angora blend.... and soooooooooooooooooooooooo soft. These will become a jaunty beret and toasty pair of gloves for this winter. They had several pretty "natural" shades including greys and taupes, but in the end, I kept with my theme.

But I think all that bare yarn was freaking me out a little, because this little number popped into my shopping bag too (okay, I specifically went back for it - but that's not the point).
Malabrigo Sock in "Alcaucil". Okay, I do feel kinda of silly buying hand-dyed merino yarn when I can just make my own - but it's kettle-dyed. So it's different. It is. Shut up.

There were two skeins of it, so I bought one for mom too, as an early Mother's Day gift.

Of course, she also had to treat me too. In the form of a pretty shawl pin
And some buttons for the stashThere are four buttons in total.

Afterwards we went for lunch, and ate so much, we had to bring our dessert home. That means I've got coconut creme pie in the fridge... and I'm off to indulge!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who needs human kids?

"Hey mooooooooooooooom...... can we go outside and play????"

"Sigh. Fine, but only until the streetlights come on."

"Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!!!""Oooh look - lawn buffet!!!"
"Hey, Peno! You wanna come out too?"

"Ummmmmmmmm. No. Definitely. Not."
"I is in yur garden eetin all your plantz!"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Busy little bunny

It's been one whirlwind long weekend... so lets do this by the numbers...

1) The very first thing I have to do is say thank you to all of you - you guys are awesome. Eostre has been favourited 182 times, is in 45 queues, and there are 42 entrants for the contest. You have no idea how much is means that people actually like my designs.

2) Apparently the tribute to the Goddess of Spring was acceptable. Saturday was warm and sunny... so warm and sunny that I took the top off Stella and drove around for three hours... and promptly got sunburned! Ow.

3) Friday Dave and I made a long overdue visit to see my grandparents. When we walked in, my grandma was in the process of cursing her computer, as she was trying to print some rudimentary wedding invitations. It seems my Aunt is getting married in July. I was quickly recruited to help fix the problem, and in true Valerie style, I took over the project. I have a bit of a wedding problem - I love them. So if there is a crafty wedding project about, I want to be in on it.

I spent a good part of Saturday night redesigning and printing, and most of Sunday morning cutting, ribboning and bling-ifying the invites. I forgot to take a pic - sorry.

I will most likely be doing my aunts flowers, hair accessories and jewelry - and of course, I want to knit her a wedding shawl. Holy crap... is it almost May???

4) Despite all the driving and invite-making, I have managed to get some knitting done. But not on the Mother's day socks like should have been...A new design (yeah sorry, doesn't look like much yet) with some more of Monika's lovely handspun. (This one was swindled out of Mom's stash.) It might be a little while before you see this design. I'm planning on re-knitting it in our yarn - either with the Aristocat, or our Top Cat DK (yeah... we've got it in DK too!).

5) In between the knitting, driving and wedding excitement, I did manage to take an hour on Saturday and finish the annual bushwhacking of the wild roses. The boys joined me outside, sans leash, and were pretty good. I did eventually have to put Rocky back inside for miscreant behaviour, but they mostly just hung out in the garden with me.

6) Easter Sunday was very low-key for us this year - not that we usually do a big deal. Mom and Dad headed to the Sound to see my brother's family. Dave and I chilled out, did laundry, watched movies, and enjoyed a Kentucky Fried Easter dinner!

7) Things I did not get done this weekend: Baking... I have some bananas on my counter that are in prime condition for a loaf of banana bread (ie rotting) but I can't find the energy to bake. Taxes... yeah, just not in the mood to find out I owe the government my first born. That can wait another day or two.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bring on Spring - A Contest

The Eostre pattern is together
You can win your own Eostre kit, complete pattern and two skeins of sumptuous Aristocat (DK Single Ply - Wool, Alpaca, Silk) in Sherwood Forest. (If you've already bought the pattern and you win, I'll refund your purchase.)Maybe knitting her an homage will convince her to finally give me some spring-like weather!To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. I'll choose a random winner from the comments. Contest closes April 30, 2011 at midnight EST.
Contest is open worldwide. Tell your friends!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mom said there was no monster in the closet...

... but she was wrong!

Just look at those evil glowing eyes!

(I really gotta do some laundry!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

B is for blocking

As the daughter of an extremely talented knitter, I have been blessed with instant access to all kinds of knitting help and advice.

Like most motherly advice, a lot of it goes in one ear and out the other. Things like - "You should really learn to read a pattern before you start modifying it" and "Are you sure you don't want me to tink back for you so you can fix that glaring mistake?"

Lots of it, I should have listened to - such as "Stockinette stitch + thin yarn+ big needles = stretchy mess." (My first sweater - still in the closet - I'm going to felt it and make Peno a cat blanket) or "Alpaca has no memory, it's just going to keep growing" (Dave's sweater with the amazing growing neck-hole).

Others bits I have actually heeded (mostly after the results of the above sunk in). One of those bits is blocking. And the wisdom of this advice is no where more apparent that with lace:The right side has been blocked - the left side has not. Blocking can do so many things - even out stitches, emphasize stitch definition, and, as above, bring out the true beauty of a lace pattern.

Even blocking non-lace is a good idea. It makes edges lie flat for sewing, and just helps everything sit just so.

About the only thing I don't block is socks - they can block on my feet as I wear them.

Oh, another bit of motherly advice I have a tendency to ignore:
"Don't leave WIPs where the cats can get them.""You mean you didn't make it just for me???? But I am an 'Aristocat' after all!!!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another successful day of training...

... and knitting.

The second Turner mitt was cast off before lunch
So I know have a complete pair (and another WIP off the list). I think I might even have enough of this yarn left for a small cowl (and a complete set for head, neck and hands!).

Turner is a fantastic pattern for last minute knitting. As I've just demonstrated, one mitt takes less than a day, so it's conceivable to knit a full pair in about eight hours. The sport weight yarn means they knit quicker, but aren't too bulky either. And, it's not hard to modify to suit a heavier or lighter yarn. For instance - I went down eight stitches on this pair to accommodate the handspun.

Its also an economical project too! The pattern is FREE! (Yay!) and it uses very little yarn (about 120 yards - think leftovers!)

Okay - that's enough tooting my own horn.

Back to knitting.

I also turned my the heel, and got halfway down the foot on my new Top Cat sock during the second portion of training. I could, in theory, finish the sock tonight (which I think would be a new record for me!) but I'm going to be a good girlfriend and cook dinner for Dave, even though it will cut into knitting time.

Tomorrow is the practical exam for the training, and shouldn't take more than a few hours. Afterward, I'll be heading up to Mom's for a photo-shoot of my new shawl (and for dinner of course!). Before training each day, I've been working on the charts, so I think Thursday night will be spent formatting the pattern.

And then it's a long weekend!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Seriously. I am.

Okay - for those of you that read regularly, this isn't a surprise.

Not only did I get to work from home today (and tomorrow, and Wednesday). But the online training I'm doing is mostly listening, so...

I was able to finish up the first Turner mitt (in Monika's awesome handspun)I've already cast on for the second one, so I might be able to finish it up during tomorrow's training.

Since the mitt was cast off before lunch - I started a new sock in Top Cat during the second half of training.My Undine pattern (modded to add ribbed cuff) in Top Cat.

And for those who are wondering how much of training I retained - much more than if I wasn't knitting. I listen better when my hands are busy. In meetings, I usually doodle. In fact, I doodled my way right through my Journalism program (and graduated at the top of the class). If my hands aren't busy, my mind wanders - I can't explain it.

But back to being spoiled... so - if all this extra knitting time wasn't enough - I stopped up at Mom's tonight and got a double treat!Two new project bags - a large Faery Princess bag, and a medium cat bag.

AND (yeah - crazy I know.. there's an AND!) Since she bought some new fancy interchangable needles - she gave me her Knit Picks Harmony Interchangables!

How spoiled am I???

Now I really gotta step up to the plate for Mother's Day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is it Sunday already?

It's another weekend that hasn't gone as planned, but I can't really complain, because I've made up for all the knitting time I lost out on during the week.

As I mentioned before, I frogged my Aristocat cowl and was working on a shawl of my own design.

I'm am proud to announce, she's off the needles and blocking.
I will be getting the pattern together, so keep an eye on the blog next weekend for a little contest - a chance to win the pattern and enough Aristocat to make your own! The Aristocat is GORGEOUS! You're gonna love it!

Despite the great progress - the weekend has gone far too quickly! Fortunately I'm working from home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm doing an online training course, and I'm hoping I'll be able to do a little mindless knitting while I'm learning.

In the mean time...I have some charts to build!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Randomness

1) I haven't knit a stitch all week. Nights have been taken up by errands and ogling Stella. Sorry. No knitting content.

2) Stella is still awesome. Of course, the minute I got her, the temperature plummeted and hasn't been anywhere near top-down weather. She has an thermometre on the rear-view mirror, and you can bet by the moment that baby reads 16 degrees, that top is going down!

3) The cats are doing well with their SoftPaws. Rocky has lost three, but I don't think it's due to him chewing (he hasn't done so in my presence anyway) but probably my faulty gluing. Next time he goes down for a nap, those toes will get trimmed and re-capped. He's probably going to start sleeping with one eye open if this keeps up.

4) It's 9:30 p.m. I just put porchops in the oven. Normally I don't cook this late at night (or at all during the week) but Dave doesn't get home until 10ish. Usually, I'd open an can of soup and say "here you go!" But we aren't going to see each other much this weekend... so I'm being a good girlfriend.

5) Okay - I guess this could count as knitting content.I brought home another "accident skein". This is our Tabby Cat fingering. It was originally green - but the dye we used split and some spots were a poopy red. It was nasty. A few weekends ago, I over-dyed it with a different green, but you could still see the poopy parts. So I threw it in some left over burgundy. That still wasn't right, so I tossed it in the bowl of black. The result was smokey-grey with purple and green undertones. I've called it "Dragon Farts" and I think it's destined to become Lenore.

6) Dave is working this weekend. So that means more dyeing for me. Any colours/combos you want to see?

7) Rocky says I've spent enough time on to computer....He wants attention NOW! Guess I better go before he starts wrecking the place.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


She's home.

She's awesome.

I love her.

Now I need some nice weather.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oh Pooh!

Despite the gorgeous weekend - I've spent most of it sulking.

Due to poor customer service skills, Stella did not come home this weekend. I have to wait all the way until 7 p.m. Monday night to pick her up.

So I'm pouting. And consoling myself with surf and turf dinner (homemade garlic shrimp and steak...mmmmmmmm...), chocolate sundaes and Aristocat.

I ripped out Pretty Thing, started knitting Traveling Woman, modified the crap out of it, frogged it and started my own, completely different design.

Surprisingly the sinlge ply is holding up really well to all that frogging. I think it's the strength of the silk. No pics though... sorry.

So.... here's a different picture....
Give me a caption!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Exercise in futility?

I'm so excited (I know... what could possibly be more exciting than that car???)

Something came in the mail today....

The SoftPaws I ordered!!!!

For those that don’t know SoftPaws… they are vinyl nail caps you glue on your cats to keep them from wrecking things when they scratch.

I got gold and silver glitter for the boys.Now all I have to do it get them glued on........



Tux is ever so classy with his silverHe was pretty good about getting them on until half way through the second paw. I have nice new hole in my leg and we had to take a little breather before we put the last three on.

The gold goes nicely with Rocky's brown and orange highlights...
Rocky was more of a challenge - we had to use the "treat for a toe" method, but eventually got them all on.

And so far so good - they don't seem to be bothering the boys at all!

(Peno will not be getting glitter toes.... trying to hold on to her while exposing her claws is likely juggling with chainsaws... naked.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New baby comes home this weekend!

That's right - there's soon to be a new member joining the family here at Wandering Cat!

I went out last night, picked her out, filled out all the "adoption" papers, and once all the paperwork is finalized, I will be able to bring her home.

So... I'd like to introduce you to.....

(Dealership picture... there is no snow on her at the moment)

After much discussion and calculations, Dave and I decided we will not be moving to the GTA. The higher cost in rent completely wipes out any savings we'd get from moving closer.

The commute isn't horrible (except in snowstorms and I've already been told to work from home next time) and I love living in wine country.

So... a new(er) car was imperative.Poor old Betty (pictured here with baby hawk) has been through a lot, and is very deserving of the chance to go to the big scrap heap in the sky. She's been a good little car, but I can't say I'm not looking forward to being able to drive to work like this...

Bring on summer!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend gone astray

This weekend kind of got away from me. As always, I have all kinds of grand plans to fill two days, and as usual, those plans went askew - but not in a bad way...

Plan 1. Clean!
My fridge, my studio are both in a dire need of a good cleaning. I've been putting them both off in favour of "easier" tasks. But I swore this weekend I would do at least one of them. Saturday, I figured I'd gear up with some "regular" cleaning first (kinda like stretching before exercise). As I was cleaning the front hall, Tux came over and started yelling at the door. I opened it so he could look out.

Upon opening it, I discovered sunshine and warmth! SPRING!!! I wasn't about to pass that up, so Tux, Rocky and I (and eventually Dave) went outside to enjoy it.

While the boys poked around under the rose bushes, Dave and I cleaned out all the debris that had gathered over the winter.... newspapers, garbage, leaves. I uncovered a bumper crop of grape hyacinths, some crocuses and even a few tulips that were hiding out under the leaf litter. Nothing is in bloom yet, but now that they can get some sunshine, Im sure it wont be long.

I didn't bother with the annual clear-cutting yet, but it was nice just to get rid of the garbage. Of course, after all that fresh air, I was just too tired to get to the fridge or the studio.

Plan 2. Cook something new!

I don't cook much during the week, so I always like to cook at least one "special" meal on the weekend. This little plan was far more productive than expected. Normally, I buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but the bone-in ones were on sale so I picked up four. I got the brilliant idea to put two together, creating a little cavity I can fill with stuffing. I love stuffing, but only get it on holidays.

Calls were made to Dad for his recipe (he's the stuffing master) and the stuffing was made... only to discover there was far too much stuffing for my two little chicken breasts.... so I took out a third and the problem was solved. Except now... I have a crap load of chicken!!!!

What to do??? Make soup of course!Now I don't really enjoy cooking (I just do it because I haven't figured out a way to convince Mom to come cook for me every night) but I do love chopping things (what can I say, I've always loved wielding knives), so anything that was in the fridge, pretty much got chopped up and put into my soup... tomatos, red pepper, mushrooms, onions, carrots, asparagus....and of course, CHICKEN!

I was chopping and stirring, chopping and stirring. I think I could actually grow to enjoy soup making.... it's just too bad I don't like soup.... (Mom and Dad got some, and the rest is in the freezer for Dave)....

Plan 3. Complete a knit
As you know, I made a resolution to not have more than five WIPs at any time. I was at my limit, so my plan was to at least get one project down... ankle socks should fly right off the needles right?


Instead I cast on for a NEW project....

In my defense, it's not my fault. It's Mom's. She's the one who wanted to order the yarn...Our new Aristocat. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS YARN. Single Ply (LOVE!), DK weight, wool/alpaca/silk (LOVE!) in a soft buttery yellow with touches of pink... colour is Champagne Kisses.It's being turned into a modified "Pretty Thing". I've added two extra repeats so it will be more like a snood. Have I mentioned that I love this yarn? (Visions of Aristocat sweaters are dancing in my head....) There's still some in the shop if you want to love it too!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring ahead... with new yarn!


The thermometre is above freezing (though I saw snowflakes this morning.... grrr....)

I have spring flowers...(They are from the supermarket - but they still count!)

So to celebrate the coming of spring - we're updating the shop!!!! Tomorrow (Saturday, April 2), at 11 a.m. EST

You'll find all the lovely yarns we just dyed up including:

Singly ply of Baby Alpaca/Wool/Silk in DK!

Fingering weight BFL/Nylon!

TWINKLE CAT LACE(Yeah.... you guys got your way, I was outvoted on Twinky Cat.. 73 %!)
Lace Weight Merino/Silk/Stellina

Fingering and Worsted Weight Merino

There will also be some Alley Cat, including our lovely spring shades
Aurora and Breath of Spring

I believe there will also be some Jungle Cat, Slinky Cat, Fluffy Cat Lace and maybe even a Stripey or two. It's a great haul, with some gorgeous new colourways. Don't miss out!!!!

As for me... I'm already testing out the Alley BFL....