Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking back

Just a few of my favourite projects
Thank you for the kind words and encouragement for Tux and his impending procedure. I'm trying but failing, not to be nervous. I'll keep you all updated how things go on Thursday.

In the meantime, I'm getting ready to ring in the new year with Dave at the cottage. I think it will be nice - I haven't been there in a few years and it will just be the two of us, a nice fire and a bottle of wine - the perfect way to say good by to another year, I think.

2013 was a pretty good year, knitwise. A quick calculation shows that I completed 48 projects this year. It's true, that's a little less than a couple of previous years, but there were a few larger projects this year. And work, and moving cut into my knitting time.

The above count includes three adult-sized cardigans, four shawls, nine pairs of socks, and let's not forget the barn-raising quilt, among many other smaller projects like hats and mitts and toys.

I released three designs this year (and started several others, which will hopefully be released in 2014).

I got to travel to Virginia and play with Ravelry friends...
... not to mention exploring the past. (Word has it we'll be exploring the Finger Lakes region in 2014... and if I can swing it a road trip to Boston).

Like any other year, it's been one with ups and downs. I lost my grandfather, and you all know about Tux's trials.

 But overall, it's been a pretty good year.  And I've got a great feeling about 2014.

So, here's wishing you and yours all the best in the coming year! And thanks for reading!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dreaming of Dragons

I posted this on the Wandering Cat facebook page the other day and it couldn't be more true. While I still have three presents left to knit, after three months of knitting for others (with the exception of my beret) I needed to start something for myself.

It's not that I don't enjoy giving knits to others (though admittedly, I'm a selfish knitter at heart), it's just that what someone else wants to wear, isn't necessarily something I want to knit. For some reason, the rest of the world (especially the male half) doesn't see the joys of being draped in a beautiful silk lace shawl....

And that's just what I wanted to knit right now.

I've had a skein of Twisted Slinky Cat kicking around since we got our first batch in. And I've wanted to knit myself Sweet Dreams by Boo Knits for even longer.

Astute readers will recall that I made a Sweet Dreams shawl immediately after we moved. Sadly it was not for me, but a beloved coworker who was leaving. I was also on a very tight deadline, so I had to make a few modifications to the pattern. There wasn't time to bead it, or do the lovely (but time-consuming) picot bind-off. I also wasn't able to make it as large as I would have liked. It was a good size, but I love a large shawl.

But now, I have no time constraints, and the perfect yarn, so I'm going to do all three.
Mom dyed this one - it's called Dragonstone. As you can see it's a beautiful mix of  muted green with just a touch of warm coppery brown. It looks absolutely fantastic knit up.
Not to mention, the Twisted Slinky creates a beautiful sleek, but bouncy fabric. I see a Twisted Slinky cardigan in my future....

Now, as mentioned, I wanted to bead this one. I thought some copper beads would be the perfect compliment to the yarn, but sadly, I only had a handful in my stash. I could have waited and bought some - but patience is not one of my virtues. So I dug a little deeper in my stash.

I only had two colours with enough quantity. A foil-lined green, which would have been alright if the green was a little more muted - but it was just too bright for the yarn.

The other was another foil-lined bead.
The lining varies a little from bead to bead, from a light apricot to a darker copper. I put them up beside the skein.... not bad, but I figured the only way to really test it was to knit some in - I could always rip back a row or two and go buy some.
But as you can see... there is no need. The beads are perfect, highlighting the copper brown, and complimenting the soft greens. Talk about lucky!

And you wouldn't think so, but this shawl knits very fast (admittedly, it's been helped along by the fact that I was up until 2 a.m. working on it). It looks complicated, but taken one row at a time, it's easy as pie.


Tux update: I've posted in Ravelry and Facebook, but I think I've neglected to mention it here. Tux's surgery is scheduled for this Thursday. I haven't told him yet, but I think he senses something is up, because he's being pretty darn sucky.

That, or he's just enjoying having me at home over the holidays. He's been pretty much glued to my side.

But, I really do have to thank you all - we couldn't have done this without your purchases of yarn and patterns. So once, again, thank you!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Berets away

Way back at the beginning of November, I made myself a hat, but I never got around to getting decent pics of the FO. Finally, yesterday, I got some...
 The pattern is the Lightweight Raspberry Beret - my go-to pattern for a fingering weight beret.
The yarn was Patons Kroy FX in "Clover Colours." It think it's the absolute perfect combination of yarn an pattern.

And yes, those are the fingerless mitts I showed the other day - Mom made them specifically to go with my hat. And of course, the hat was made to go with my fabulous red coat!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Still Christmas!

My brother and his family live three hours away, which can make getting together a little tricky. While Dave and I stopped by Mom and Dad's house for Christmas Eve this year, my brother wasn't able to come down until today, so we held off on having our "traditional" Christmas dinner until then - which was just fine with me - it gave me time to make all those doll clothes.

While the men were in the kitchen cooking dinner, the women settled into a hard-core Angry Birds Uno tournament...
The little brat on the right won, by the way...

And dolly's wardrobe? Fit fabulously...
Ready for winter

Summer sun fun!
Sheer elegance!
And Christmas isn't quite over yet - I'll be getting together with my best friend's family in late January... and I still have three gifts to knit!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hello Dolly

Dave has wandered off to Lake Erie for his yearly week of solitude. The cats are enjoying his side of the bed, and I'm making good use of the quiet time.

Yesterday I hauled out the sewing machine and got down to sewing some clothes to go with the few knit dolly clothes I managed to get done before Christmas.I'll be seeing the recipient on Saturday and I wanted to add a few things to her gift. I intended just to make a couple of dresses - I only had one pattern...
....  I may have had too much fun. From the one dress pattern, I improvised another, as well as a pair of pajamas. Then I figured it was nothing to whip up a few simple skirts.
But they needed matching tops. So, a couple got sewn. And one got knit...
And jammies needed slippers...
And I needed something for a little girl to carry it all in, so a bag was made...
... or maybe three... (the other two will encase a couple of other gifts... they were just too fun to make.)

 And every time the sewing machine gets brought out, the cats get a little treat....
....cat nip bags!

The sewing machine is still out on the dining room table, so perhaps I can keep this mojo going long enough to make those pajama pants I've been trying to make for years...

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Once again, Santa was pretty good to me and mine this year - I really can't complain.

Dave and I have a bit of an arrangement for presents - he loathes Christmas, and after 11 years, I've pretty much given up trying to help him see the joy of the season. Now, I focus on just making it as stress-free as possible for him.

One of the things he absolutely hates is present shopping/making. Since I actually enjoy it, I take care of all the presents for his family, but there's still one person left to buy for - and that's me. So to help him out, round about November, I send him links to things I'd like (usually jewellry). I send several, so he can choose one, and while I know I'll be getting something from the selection, I never know which one.

This year was earrings...
Ooooh shiny!

Two gorgeous pairs. The pair on the left are amethysts, the pair on the right, black pearl and garnet.

But this year... there was something extra in the box... something I didn't suggest to him....
Blue topaz - my birthstone
I think he may be getting the hang of this Christmas thing! I may just keep him.

In other news, Dave's family discovered my love of hats and decided to contribute to my collection.
From Dave's Mom - she gave me a black, pinstripe one too.
Now I need a tommy gun and a zoot suit!
From Dave's grandma
It's hard to tell from the lighting, but the hat is solid fun-fur. Very warm. I actually have a full-length Victorian-style coat that matches this perfectly. I just need a few inches off my hips to get it on again.

I was not neglected in the knits department either - no yarn of knitting toys this year, but I did get the most awesome fingerless mitts ever.
That will brighten up winter!
This is Mom's design - something she came up with to crank out from her sock machine. These match the beret I made my self a few months back. Proper pictures of the mitts and the hat will follow after the weekend.

Dave got his socks, as well as jeans and boxers (it's not Christmas without underpants!), the traditional bottle of Jack Daniels from his uncle, as well as jube jubes and and jelly beans from his grandma.

Dave has headed off to the cottage for the rest of the holidays, so the house is nice and quiet. I'm using the time to finish up the last few things - there's still a holiday get-together with my brother and his family this weekend, and then my best friend and her family in the new year.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, like I did.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and some happy new socks

It's well past Santa hour. Dave is curled up asleep with visions of sausage rolls dancing in his head... but I'm awake.

I just grafted the toe of his Christmas socks. I'm going to wrap them now and then slide into bed beside him.

Proper pictures of the socks and all our Christmas cheer will follow in the next few days.

In the mean time, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for the new year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Christmas

Looks like mother nature decided to give us a white Christmas.
I woke up this morning to snow falling, covering everything in a beautiful, soft blanket of white. Which was nice, because the rain made everything look dirty and gross. Of course, for the areas that go ice, it means there is a nice sheet of ice under that pretty blanket - the roads are havoc, and the world is crumbling into pre-Christmas chaos... but from my back door... it's beautiful.
I turned the heel on the man-sock last night. So I'll be working on the foot today to get it under the tree for tomorrow morning. But other than that, it's s peaceful Christmas Eve Day at Chez Wandering Cat.

Tonight is dinner with my parents, tomorrow is dinner with Dave's family. Nice and simple - just the way we like it.

Hope you're all snug and warm and celebrating the very best of the season.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Raise the barn

We're in the midst of a major ice storm here.
Well, actually, where I am it's just rain, but we seem to be in a bit of a bubble. Everywhere else around us is covered in ice.

Mom took these pics - she's only 20 minutes away. Friends 10 minutes away have been without power since this morning. The news is saying some areas may be without power until Tuesday.  Seems like the perfect reason to stay home and work on the Barn-Raising blanket.
Rocky decided to help too.

It took all day... but I am so happy to say....
It's finished!!!

Every last square is sewn together. Of course... it's really not quite finished... but it's finished enough that I'm celebrating. I do think it needs a crocheted edge to just tidy it up a bit, but that will have to wait until I can get Mom's help. My crocheting skills are pretty crappy - I'm not even sure where to start.

I started this blanket back in August 2011, but the bulk of the knitting was done in the last few months. It was neglected through the majority of  2012 and much of 2013. I will say... this is the last time I knit a blanket that needs to be sewn together. From now on, it's join-as-you-go or nothing!

And, if you're wondering just how big it is...

...I'm included for scale. I'm 5 foot 7 - It's not huge - but just the perfect size for snuggling on the couch with a cat and a good movie. Hmm... looks like the cats have started snuggling without me... I better go reclaim it....

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bits and bobs make for a very long post.

Another random post for Saturday. I'm mostly working on getting the barn-raising blanket together, but here are a few other things going on around Chez Wandering Cat.

1. Tux.

As you know, Tux went in for some blood tests yesterday. A glucose curve to be exact... basically what they do is take test his blood sugar throughout the day - before breakfast, after breakfast, after insulin injections, etc. 

However, after they did the first test (blood sugar was 13 - still high, but lower than it was originally, and he hadn't eaten yet or had insulin) - he refused to eat. Anything.... At.All. 

He got his first insulin shot, but still refused to eat. That, coupled with the stress of being at the vet, meant that his blood sugar had spiked to 23 by early afternoon. And if he wasn't going to eat, the test was absolutely useless. So the nice ladies at the vet took some more blood and sent to the lab for a fructose test.

I picked him up and brought him home where he proceeded to pig out.
There is good news though. The vet's office called this morning. The fructose test was good! We are cleared for surgery so I'll call and talk to the vet on Monday and schedule the actual surgery date! 

And once again, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of you - without you support, I doubt this would be happening. We've already spent almost $400 on tests, and we haven't got to the surgery yet. Every skein of yarn you've bought and every pattern you've purchased has made this possible.

2. A little holiday cheer.

Another thing I have to say thank-you for is this beautiful little Christmas gift from Araignee.

For any of you who follow her blog, you'll know that she helps her father (known as Daddio) with his quilting projects.

They do the most beautiful work and I'm truly honour to be gifted with one of the gorgeous pot holders they made this year.
Of course, I'm not going to use it as a pot holder - it's far too pretty for that. I'm going to hang it on the wall as part of my holiday decor.

She also included one of her handmade cards. I love it. It's little surprises like this that make this season so special.

 (And keep an eye on your mailbox Araignee... your prize yarn will be mailed after Christmas, but I came across something on the internet today and I'm having them send it directly to you!)

3. One green thumb, one brown one

Readers will recall my lovely goldfish plant... which looked liked the picture on the left this summer - nice and big and full.

I brought it inside, well before the cold weather, but I noticed over the last few weeks it was dropping leaves. Sadly, it was doing much more than that...

Now it's a sad shadow of itself as you can see from the picture on the right. I had to cut away half the vines because they were dry and crumbling. Whats left seems fairly healthy, so I'm hoping I can save it.

In the meantime... my mini rose bush was also brought in before the frost. It had gone into hibernation, but looked nice and health otherwise.

Then the weather got really cold, and I turned the heat on in the house. Now the darn thing is sprouting all over the place. Even the little viney bush I planted with it has started to green up and grow again!

4. Being sensible.

I took another look at my Christmas gift list, and decided to take a few things off my knitting plate to give myself some breathing room. So yesterday after picking Tux up from the vet, I did a little shopping.
Apparently my family likes plaid!

I still have the man-socks to finish. There's a small bit of dolly clothes sewing to do, but I won't actually be seeing my brother and the girls until the weekend after Christmas, so that bought me a few days. There are some presents for friends to finish too - but I won't see them until January. I was planning on getting everything done before Christmas, but it does tend to sneak up on you, doesn't it?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Damn you, Susanna Ic!

At least once every couple of months,I come across a lovely shawl pattern that I just have to knit. It makes me want to forsake all other knitting and recklessly cast on. This month is no different..
Isen, by Susanna Ic, from the new Twist Collective.
And 7 times out of 10... it's a Susanna Ic pattern. I want to knit this one right now... and I can't!!!
I don't know what it is, but she designs the most beautiful shawls...
So many of her patterns are in my queue ... just like Tendrils

And Mermaid's Song
I have some gorgeous deep wine Cashmerino set aside for Caireen.
And I've always wanted to knit Annis in a gorgeous deep yellow.
And who could resist the leafy bounty of Meristem? 

Seriously... check out all her patterns, so much to love!

Damn you Susanna Ic! And damn you Christmas knitting! Hopefully I'll have to progress to show you tomorrow...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

One stitch at a time

It's been a few weeks since I finished up the last square of the barn-raising blanket. I haven't really mentioned it here, but I haven't been neglecting it.

I originally planned to join the squares by picking up the edges, and doing a three needle-bind off with black yarn. And I did just that... but it looked like total crap. Not being a crocheter, my only other option was to sew all the squares together... slowly.
It's not hard, it's just not particularly stimulating. And since I have to watch what I'm doing (unlike knitting) it's very hard on the neck. I've been trying to sew a few squares together every evening. As a result, I've got about 1/3 of the blanket done.

Because of the different yarns, not all the squares are exactly the same size. I knit them all to the same amount of stitches, but I probably should have knit them by inch, not stitch. Some of the squares bubble a little when sewn together, because they are just a touch larger.

But the resulting blanket will still be cozy, even if it's not perfectly flat.

I do think I'm going to have to suck it up and attempt a single crochet around the outside to finish it off nicely... but I'll cross that road when I get to it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The lone mitt

I have a friend who lives in the big city. She takes transit a lot, and is in need of some warm woolies to keep her toasty between subways  - especially this year.

She's the intended recipient of the colourwork hat I test knitted a few months ago.
She's such a lovely friend, and it's such a lovely hat, that I decided a pair of matching mitts were well deserved....
.... well - it will be a pair of mitts eventually. The second one has been cast on. I meant to work on it at lunch, but I left my knitting bag at home! Not a good thing when Christmas is only a week away!!!