Thursday, July 31, 2014

Getting back in the groove

After the slog of the last stretch of Lestrange, I 'm just not really feeling to love for my knitting - I think I just burned myself out a little - I'm hoping the feeling wears off soon.

I've started Watershed (and it's going nicely - I got the bottom band done and I've started on the body) and I'm back to my Vannellope socks.
Just a couple more stripes to go and I'll be finishing them up... and there's nothing like closing a sock toe to get your knitting mojo going, right?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Little Red

As soon as Lestrange was off the needles, I cast on for Watershed.

What a difference - you get so use to working with fine yarn, when you go up in weight, it's like knitting with a whole different material.

I'm half way through the bottom band already. If I knit monogomously on this I could probably have it done just a week or two.  But I've got long-neglected socks and shawls on the needles that need attention too, so I'm not putting any pressure on myself with this one.

Observant readers will notice that I've already made a modification.

In the original design, the laces sections are actually all done in garter lace. And in the orginal design it looks quite nice. But this yarn isn't as smooth as the original. It has a little bit of a texture. And I found with the texture of the garter as well, it just looked odd.... a little too chunky.

So, with a simple switch to purling the wrong side rows, I've got a slightly smoother look. I think it's going to work out just fine.

As mentioned, I bought this yarn years ago (2007 if I remember correctly) and now with a little bit of knitting experience under my belt, I probably wouldn't buy it again. It's blend of silk, rayon and cotton. Cotton is not my favourite thing to knit with, though the rayon and silk soften it up quite a bit. But though it's not a single ply, it's about a strong as one (not sure if it's just the fibre combo) - one good tug and the yarn just drifts apart.

So the finished garment is going to require some gentle care - but it feels good to using it up at last.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Garden woes

I guess the bigger your gardens - the bigger your problems.

Last year, other than the onions that didn't grow and some rather lack-luster beans, I had no issues with the gardens.

This year, I doubled the square footage and now it seems like the neighbourhood pests have decided it's the perfect place to chill.

I've found three more Japanese beetles (two on the roses and one on the Sunflower) and their presence is becoming more noticeable...
The berries are starting to ripen nicely but I've yet to get to eat them...
I think this is the work of the birds, because the berries are still attached to the plants.
I'm going to get some netting and see if I can head this off. I have lots of berries coming this year and I don't want to lose them all to the birds.

Out front, some one has run off with two of my four hens and chicks...
And has been nibbling on a third. Chances are this isn't Bunbun either.. perhaps a squirrel or racoon?

And the other morning I came out and my sweet peas were gone.... just gone... not even any sign that they were in the dirt at all. I think that's the one that hurts the most... I was really looking forward to seeing them bloom!

But, on the upside, the tomatoes are coming well (I already gave a bag-full to Mom.) and I think the  jalapenos are safe from the nibblers....

Sunday, July 27, 2014

FO: Lestrange

Okay - I have to admit, near the end, I really wasn't feeling the love for Lestrange. Looking at the other projects, I was worried that after all that work - she'd end up too boxy and frumpy and I'd never wear her. But now that she's done..
 Yes - I'm totally in love.
She was so pretty, I knew she needed an exceptional location for her photoshoot. After some brain storming, Mom and I came up with the idea of a cemetary.
This one is very old, and just a short drive from Mom's. It has beautiful grounds and some fascinating headstones. We even have relatives resting there. I was hoping for a slightly darker day (it was suppose to be cloudy and rainy this weekend) but the pictures turned out amazing anyway (thanks to Mom's fantastic photo skills). But back to Lestrange...
I won't go into too much detail - you guys have been on this long journey with me. It started in October of last year, but she got put away for Christmas knitting. I didn't pick her up again until March....
...but didn't knit faithfully on her until this month when I started the collar.
The collar was a definite slog (basically, a full sized shawl all on its own) but I got through it. In the push to get the project done, I totally messed up on the bottom ruffle - but no one who isn't familiar with the pattern is going to notice.
I made several mods to the fit and shape along the way. They are detailed on my project page. In the end, she took approximately six-and-a-half skeins of Slinky Cat Fingering. (I'm not even going to tally the hours.)
The colour is Midnight Peacock and it changes depending on the light. Outside it's vibrant, while indoors it's dark and moody.
Once the weather cools down, I see her getting a lot of wear. I had to go buy a dress to wear with her for the photoshoot - but I have plenty in my fall/winter wardrobe that will make her shine!
Not that she doesn't do that all on her own.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I've never liked casting off so much...

Yes my friends...

it's FINALLY off the needles

We aren't going to talk about the stacked leaves.... or that ten rows later I managed to shift the diamond pattern too - so the ruffle no longer matches the collar.

Because frankly, at this point dahlings... I don't give a damn!

All that's left is the sewing. I'm going to tackle the collar while the ruffle is trying. I have mom tentatively booked for a photo shoot on Sunday, but it's weather dependent. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Brain wave

Ideas come to you at the funniest moments...

Remember the polka dress that was in need of a red cardigan? 
Well, I was pulling it from the washing machine and thinking how sad it was that it still didn't have its red cardigan. I'd intended to knit Windsong in some red Bugga, but I haven't had the chance (thanks Lestrange).

And suddenly I remembered... hey... I have 10 balls of Debbie Bliss Stella in the perfect shade of red
They've been kicking around my stash forever. When I first started knitting I went on a bit of an ebay yarn buying spree - and I bought a whole bunch of different sweater yarns, but only 10 balls of each - so that means small sweater...

And by a strange coincidence one of the patterns on my to-do list this year....
Just happens call for Aran weight yarn - which Stella is. It's a nice, small cardi and well within the yardage of the Stella even for the larger sizes.

So as soon as I get Lestrange done (10 more rows to go!) I'll be casting on for Watershed. I think it will be the perfect quick knit to give me a lift after the slog of Lestrange. Plus it's I'll be able to tick a box on my goal list - AND I use stash yarn... Win-win-WIN!

Sometimes I'm so smart I scare myself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


It's what I get for bragging.

Just the other day I was telling Araignee that the bunnies hadn't bothered with my garden - it must be the carrots I feed them...

Well remember this strawberry? So close to ripening that my mouth was watering just thinking about it? (You can tell where this is going can't you?)
Well, I went to check on it yesterday because it should have been just perfect... and...
Yup. The two white berries beside it were gone too...

Now to be fair to Mr. Bunbun (not that I should, but the little suckers are just too cute), I think he was actually going for the (possibly fake) wild strawberry leaves right beside it...
... and those juicy berries were either just too good to resist or collateral damage. He ate that (likely) weed right down. And when you consider how close the real strawberry was
It might have been accidental fruiticide...

The saving grace is there are tonnes more berries coming. But, I think I may just go find some marigold plants to place around the garden border - apparently they make good Bunbun repellent.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And so it goes

As mentioned, I'm still working away on Lestrange.

I am about half way through the final piece and I am desperate to get it done.

How desperate you ask?

Desperate enough that I've started taking it to work with me so I can sneak in a few rows over lunch.

That's not desperate you say...

Well I'm desperate enough that when I noticed a HUGE error, I refused to rip it back.

You see - there are two sets of leaves and they are supposed to shift, so the second row is tucked between the first row. But somehow I shifted the pattern and now the leaves are stacked.

And this is how desperate I am - as soon as I noticed I thought... "passed the point of no return!" and just kept knitting

Come hell or high water... Lestrange will be off the needles by Saturday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Not so annual

When I was up at Mom's yesterday were we laughing about the pansies that keep coming up in  Dad's garden randomly. They were annuals that were planted several years ago - and every year one or two pops up.

I've had this happen with Allysum that's suppose to be an annual - infact, I have some in my lily garden that was planted last year.
It's just starting to bloom.

But after getting home from Mom's, I was checking on the front tree garden and...
The tree garden this year was suppose to be be all pink and white... I didn't plant anything purple. 
But I did last year - and it was almost all purple pansies... so much for my colour scheme.

Meanwhile out back...
I'm 90% sure I have a "real" sunflower! If so it's still got a few feet to grow before it blooms.
The Cupid's Dart has finally bloomed completely - and there are lots more buds coming. I really like this one!
The old bird feeder rotted out and it's taken me a few weeks to get a new one. Mr. Cardinal has been coming down on the fence every night and yelling at the house. He's a happy little bird again.
The first edible tomatoes! Dave will probably gobble these up right away, but a few sunny days and we'll have lots more!
Soon my beauties.... soon...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mother nature just keeps raining on our parade

Mother Nature has it in for outdoor fun this year, I think.

Saturday was Sam's annual family picnic at her parents' place in my old hometown. (I get to go because they adopted me years ago - I'm the child they never knew they wanted.)

All week it was calling for a beautiful sunny day on Saturday, up until Friday night when the forecast turned to scattered showers. So much for scattered - it pretty much rained from the moment I got up until I got home again.

The rain didn't stop the kids from having fun though
A couple of well place tents and everyone is happy
And others are content even without the tent
That's Nora.... she's two now and does not appear to have an off button...
Despite the rain it was good to come home, dry off and warm up.

Today has been spent in the garden and on Lestrange (no, it's not done yet), but more on that tomorrow.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mid-year check-in

 Okay - so we're a little passed mid-year, but it's close enough. Remember those knitting goals I set back in the beginning of January? Well, I thought it would be fun to step back and take a peak and see how I was doing on them...

Well... out of the 12 projects I chose... I've completed one....

Susie Rogers Reading Mitts
And yeah - I'm shamed to admit, it's the smallest one on the list.... but I did make a pair!

So... I think it's time to revise my outlook.. especially given the list of other things I've got planned for this year (including new designs, KALs and gift knitting...)

So without further ado, here are the seven projects I'd really like to complete by year end. (In no particular order):

A Better Bucket
How hard can it be to knit myself just one hat? I knit five hats last year!
This was a birthday present from SmokingHotNeedles and I have some perfect copper cotton for it - and it will go with eleventy billion things in my wardrobe. It must be knit!
I promised myself I'm going to knit this one this year - and by golly - I'm going to do it or die trying. (or attempt it an throw it in the wip pile and finish it next year... but at least I will have made the attempt.)

Before I got consumed by  Lestrange, I'd planned on starting this. But I didn't think it was wise to have two fingering weight lace cardis on the needles at one time. I may knit a heavier non-lace cardi before this one, but I really want to get it done this year.
Lace shawls take me two weeks tops.... why haven't I done this one? This year it shall be done!
Pirate Danger
I need at least one pair of socks on the list. It's gonna be pirates or nothing! (actually I've turned the heel on Vanellope so I may be starting this one soon...)
Short sleeves, worsted weight, cropped length. If I can't get this one done this year.... I never will.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five alive

You may have noticed that the shop is closed today.

You may also have noticed that we opened the shop five years ago this month. It's hard to believe it's been five years already - but I'm guess that's because it's been so fun.
It’s  never been about making bags of money, but just enjoying what we do and and sharing our love of yarn and knitting. We like to keep it stress free and it gives us a little extra cash to indulge in patterns and fibre from other people just like us.

So to celebrate, we've closed the shop in preparation for a big sale. The shop will re-open on Saturday morning, with markdowns of $3- $5 on all skeins. You may even find some new stuff going in at the marked-down prices.
 So thanks for helping us make five years - and be sure to check the shop out tomorrow!

As an additional thank you - all my patterns are on for 50% off for the rest of the month - use the code fivealive

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Meanwhile back in the garden...

1) The black clover has flowered
2) And I better keep my eye on it because these guys LOVE clover
3) The Armeria is pushing up flowers like crazy and they look a lot like clover flowers too!

4) Speaking of things that look like other things, Cupid's Dart looks a lot like a Thistle flower as it starts to bloom.
 5) The lone remaining sweet pea  - instead of growing up, has grown out and is now sporting four new vines... I really hope it starts growing up the trellis and flowering sometime this summer.
6) The roses are putting on a fantastic show. I've got a few blooms on the pink one, and the white one has pushed up 12 new buds
7) And who could forget about the dainty little forget-me-nots
8)  The Jalenones are doing REALLY well. I have a total  FIFTEEN coming so far. I think there will be hot-pepper- jelly-making session in my future. I've settled on this recipe as it's much like the jam I made last month. There's a hot pepper jelly lover on my Christmas list, so I think I have his present in the bag.

9) After a tip, and some research, I've learned that the strawberry look-a-like is probably not a wild strawberry at all, buy an imposter. I'm going to wait until it flowers just to be sure. However - it's almost berry time on the other plants!
10) Tomatoes! The first harvest is a little late this year compared to last (and I'm not harvesting just yet - you can't see it but the other side of that tomato is completely bug eaten), but that's not surprising considering the longer winter and much cooler weather this year.