Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Knit Year in Review

As far as knits go, 2015 was a little light... at least in quantity. I completed 30 project this year. It's quite a bit less than previous years, but several of them were also fairly large

In fact, you could almost call 2015 the year of the cardi - I completed five of them!
I think of all of them Cygnus was my favourite... though admittedly, it's because it's my own design.

Of course, it's so hard to choose.
Shleeves was a fun quick knit with a really cute result.
And April Come She May has gotten a lot of wear!
And I've been far too busy wearing Sherlock to actually get proper pictures of it!

But it wasn't all garments.

There were socks
 and hats
 and shawls

And lets not forget the high point of my year when I finally got to put one of my older knits to very good use...
Here's to 2016, and looking forward to what another year brings.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sad cat, bad cat

Rocky is not a happy kitty.
Not only is there still snow on the ground (he did go out today, but not for very long, and he had to step around piles of the cold wet stuff) but he's missing Dave.

This happens every time Dave heads off to the cottage. You'd think Rocky would be happy enough about being able to stay in the bedroom all night.... but nope. He just wants his person back. He sulks, and he howls. He searches for Dave then he sulks, and he howls some more. And in between all that...
He picks on his sister....

How much longer until the weekend....?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Snow day

Our first real winter storm finally blew through last night, and we woke up to a winter wonderland
A certain someone was not nearly as thrilled about it as I was. Those faint paw prints on the step are Tux's. Rocky wouldn't even put a paw in it.
Don't worry, his sulk won't last long. It's already starting to melt and rain is expected tomorrow. But I'm enjoying it, while it lasts. And in between rooting through cupboards and cleaning, I've been working diligently on Mary Mead.
So far, it's moving along nicely. A few more rows and I'll join everything up at the under arm. I expect things will slow down then. But being a cropped cardi, it won't be too bad.

Monday, December 28, 2015

... and so it begins...

Dave is finally gone.

The purge has begun.

I decided to start with the bedroom, as it's both the easiest and hardest room to purge. Easiest because it's just clothes and shoes, and everything is already well organized (mostly), but hardest because I'm a terrible sentimentalist.

How terrible you ask? I have three boxes of clothes that haven't fit me since my early 20s. They've been through three moves... I'd love to get down to that weight again, but realistically? I think they hinder more than they help.

Knowing this would be a difficult task, I called in some reinforcement for moral support.
Yeah.... thanks for the help guys.
This one came up all on his own - and he hasn't bothered with the stairs in weeks. You will notice he found the  "good" pile of sweaters... my Top Cat April and Camel Silk Hitofude. (those are keepers btw).

I went through the closet first, then each dresser drawer, one by one. (I have two large dressers.. that's a lot of drawers!) All the while, I kept Alisha's mantra running through my head. If I don't feel amazing wearing's gone.

So when I picked up a particularly gorgeous sheer blouse and thought "Oh I remember when I bought this...." the next thought was... "But it doesn't fit right and you end up feeling fat every time you wear it..." so into the pile it went....
And that pile got pretty big pretty quick. Dresses, skirts, blouses... nothing was spared. I ended up with two pairs of keeper pants (a dress pair and a denim pair). I considered not keeping any, because I can't remember the last time I wore pants (not counting leggings). But I figured it was okay to keep two, just in case there is an emergency where I am required to wear pants.

In the end, I ended up with about three garbage bags full of clothes, ready for donation. I was feeling so good, I started on the shoes, and got another bag there. Then I hit the linen closet and got another bag! (Why do I still have double sheets?  I haven't had a double bed for years now...?)

Tomorrow... the kitchen...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mixing it up

Dave's still here....

So I'm still knitting.

While I was knitting Dad's Christmas hat, I quickly decided that the green yarn (Regia Silk 6ply) was so lovely, I needed to knit something for myself with it. I bought a load if it several years ago with the intention of making a sweater. I have no idea why I never got around to it.

But now I was determined. I started scouring Ravelry for sport weight cardigan patterns and I came across Mary Mead by Andi Satterland
I've long admired Andi's patterns. The retro styling really suits my curvy figure. The only downside is, most of her cardigans are worsted and aran weight. I really prefer something a little lighter. Mary Mead is sport weight, so it's just perfect.

And to my surprise, Andi was holding a KAL and offering her cardigan patterns at a discount. It was obviously meant to be.

I bought the pattern and last night, I cast on...
Now you're probably looking at that, thinking ...."wait... something doesn't look right.."

Yeah... I started knitting it as written (wide garter rib with eyelet lace). And I just wasn't loving it. It's not the pattern. It's me - I just don't love garter - especially wearing it. I find it makes me feel bulky. So, I've switch up the stitch pattern a bit...
The garter bits are now stocknit, and the eyelet is now reverse eyelet. I think it suits me much better, and I'm contentedly working away on it.

It helps that the yarn is so wonderful. It's a Merino/Polymide/Silk (55/25/20%) blend. So soft, so silky, and just a joy to work with.

And of course,  I've got the perfect dress to go with it. Though I wouldn't mind a pair of forest green shoes....

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Change of plans

I hope every one had a wonderful Christmas.

As you know, today was the day I was going to begin my big clean out. But Dave decided he wasn't in any hurry to get to the cottage this year. And while it's nice to have some extra time with him, cleaning things out is not something I want to start with him underfoot.

We know our limitations, we don't cook together, we don't build furniture together and we definitely don't clean and declutter together.  (the problem in all those things is we both like to be in charge, and neither is willing to give way)

So instead, we've spent most of the day relaxing.... and for me, that means knitting...
...and that means getting back to projects that got neglected for Christmas.In this case, sock one of a pair of man socks for Sam's husband.

Tomorrow, the second one will be cast on, and they'll be tucked away for travel knitting.... cause I'm in the mood for lace!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Friday Felines (Merry Christmas edition)

My brother's cat Chu,
Merry Christmas to you and yours from us and ours! And all the best for the new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Eve gift to you

I was busy making my Christmas tarts last night, when I ran out of filling with 6 tart shells left to fill. I didn't want to waste them, so I looked around for something I could whip up to fill them, and this is what I came up with

Valerie's Apple Crisp Tarts


12 tart shells (homemade or store bought. I do frozen store bought because its easier)

3 medium sized apples, peeled and cored
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 butter or margerine, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degress

In a microwavable bowl, grate apples. Add brown sugar. Microwave for 45-60 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Add in spice and stir. Fill each tart shell about half full.

In separate bowl, add oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour in melted butter a little at a time, stirring until you get the right consistency. You want the oats coated and sticky, but not runny. You may need less or more butter depending on your oats. Top each apple-filled tart with a dollop of oats. Be sure to cover all the apple bits

Bake for 20-25 until golden.

Serve with whip cream or icecream, or just enjoy on its own.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

.... and I'm done...

....or at least I thought I was. These red hot anklets, paired with a jar of this summer's cherry jam, were to be the last present (for Dave's Mom.) I was so happy when I finished them up last night.

And then, laying in bed, drifting off to sleep.... I remembered this
While the knitting is long-since finished - it still needs to be turned into a pillow for my Dad. How do I keep forgetting about his presents...?

Just more evidence of why I need to simplify!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I have a confession to make...

..... I haven't decorated for Christmas this year. And I'm not going to.

I'm not against Christmas, and while my spirit isn't quite as high as it could be, I am still looking forward to the festivities. I will be making some Christmas sweets (have to have some mince meat pie!), but the only concession I've made to decorating is to light a Christmas Spice candle
It smells like cinnamon and vanilla and that's about as Christmasy as its going to get around here this year.

Why? I just don't have the energy for it. For the last few months, I've been feeling off. Not sick, not upset... but something just hasn't been right.

It took me a while to pinpoint what was wrong. There's been a lot going on - Dave's been in a bit of a transition with his job. My work is deadline driven, so by its nature it's stressful. And there's been a lot going on in the background family-wise.

And it wasn't until I read a post by Alisha at Sharing Slices of my Life that it clicked. I was feeling overwhelmed.

I've been feeling the need to simplify.

While I can't do much about our work situations, and the family stuff is also out of the sphere of our control, I can simplify things on the home front.

There's study after study that shows that clutter creates anxiety. It's not secret that I'm a bit of a clutterbug. When it comes to keeping the house tidy, I feel like I'm constantly behind the eightball.

So instead of decorating I'm leaving it all packed away this year. And in the true spirit of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, when Dave leaves for his annual "alone time" at the cottage, I'm going to start going through all our stuff.

Even my clothes. And my shoes! Housewares, books, knicknacks.... all of it. If I don't love it, wear it, need it -it's gone. Our city has started to welcome refugees from Syria and one of the local charities is collecting clothing and household items for them. The timing couldn't be better.

And hopefully the new year will start lighter, fresher....and simpler.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Birthday booty

While I'm busy finishing up the last Christmas present (Dave's Mom's socks), I figured I share a few of the things my sweet family gave me for my birthday

Rowan is a big fan of singing, and earlier this year, she showed up at my Mom's singing songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (Hot Patootie being her favourite) and she was quite shocked to learn that her Aunt Valerie knew every single lyric (and can probably recite the movie word for word). So she insisted that must have a Dr. Frankenfurter and RiffRaff for my own...
They've made themselves right at home among the ladies of Monster High....
Mom took a more crafty route...
Five beautiful coordinating fat quarters in vintage looking fabrics (plus a rotary cutter and ruler!) I'm thinking these might  become a nice twin sized quilt for the livingroom futon.

So... a few more rows and I can get back to crafting for myself!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas comes early

Yesterday, Dave and I hopped in the car and headed north to Owen Sound for a little early Christmas party with my brother and his wonderful family. It's a long drive (three hours) but a nice one... and with lots of fun at the end of it.

Presents were exchanged
(Sandpoint was for my brother and it fit him perfectly. He's promised me pictures later.)

Cats were tormented  loved and cherished
Some liked it more than others..
They got their revenge during the air hockey tournament
And then we got down to the serious business of some hard-core Jenga.

And now were home and spending the rest of the weekend recovering from all that fun... those muscles in the backs of your arms sure get a good work out when you play air hockey!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Can it be summer soon?

Okay - I know I've been complaining that it's not wintery enough, but really... if Mother Nature is going to dilly dally on the subject, I think we should just go back to summer.

Because, I just got a new shoe delivery and I've got four** new pairs to show off...  there's only one problem.. they are mostly sandals...
It all started with these yellow ones. I've been the hunt for the perfect yellow wedges for about two years now. It's been my goal to have summer wedges in every colour (to go with all my sundresses). Sure I could wear a neutral... but what's the fun in that? Yellow was the only colour left (with the exception of orange, but I'm not a huge orange person). But it couldn't just be any yellow - it had to be the right shade of mustard. And I wanted a nice looking wedge - not too high, not too clunky. I saw these one last month and they fit the bill perfectly (even more so because of the snakeskin texture.. I'm a sucker for snakeskin)

But... being that they were on ebay.. and you save on shipping when you buy more than one... I had to get more...
A nice white leather dress sandal can take you from work to play and back again - every girl should have at least one pair (and I didn't!).

I could have stopped there... but you know me too well...
I've been eyeing these ones for a looooooooooooong time. It was the last pair in stock, so it was now or never. I'm so glad I chose now. Look at that beautiful heel
I'm a total sucker for a funky heel.

And in concession to the time of year, I had to get just one pair that I could wear as soon as they arrived
A black suede shootie, like the white dress sandal is one of those "wear almost anywhere" shoes.

** I feel no shame at buying four pairs of shoes at once. All four pairs cost me what one pair would have in the store. If you're looking for shoe deals, I can recommend this ebay seller. They buy up old stock, liquidations, that kind of thing... and sell them at deep discounts. Just make sure you read the listings well, they also sell defects (some very minor and you can get REALLY good deals then), some mismatched sizes, and some used (though always gently).

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Felines

Well this one really isn't a kitty...
 But it was Rocky who alerted us to our visitors presence. Pics aren't great because I couldn't use the flash.
I know most people don't like them, but I think they are sweet. I wonder if this is the same one from a couple of years ago.

If you're wondering what he's enjoying so much, it's the paper that the fruit cake was wrapped in. Merry Christmas to all creatures... great and small

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Salvage mission

Remember this cardigan?
 I knew early on in the knitting that it wouldn't suit me... but it would suit someone on my Christmas list, so I finished it up.

Unfortunately, when I soaked and blocked it, the dye ran so bad, that it "pooled" on the edges where it was folded while blocking
See that dark line down the arm... yeah, that's excess dye. So.. with nothing to lose, I threw it in the washer (you should see how much more dye came out - good thing I washed it with old towel!) and the dryer (on a lower setting). Being cotton, it should have come through just fine...

.... but of course, something had to happen. It looked okay coming our of the dryer, but when I put it on...

... the sleeves were suddenly a lot shorter! The body shrunk a touch, but nearly as much as the sleeves! And it just didn't look right with 3/4 so....
...the cast off came out and I'm knitting away again. I'm knitting extra long, because it will need another wash to even out the old knitting vs the new (colour and tension). Thank goodness I got the bulk of my Christmas knitting done early!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On Point

That's my friends... is a completely finished Sandpoint pullover. All, blocked, seamed up, ends sewn in, and...
...zipper sewn in. A little bit wonky, I'll grant you... but I'd already been sewing all day (a terrible sewing day that resulted in the most hideous thing ever  - no,  I'm totally NOT sharing) so I'm not about to fuss over a little wonk.

A proper FO post will follow if the recipient lets me take his picture....

Monday, December 14, 2015

FO: Worsted socks

They took a little longer than planned (things have been craaaaaaaazy here) but Dad's birthday socks are done!
They are worsted weight - so big and thick and perfect for the cold, freezing winter that doesn't seem to want to come this year... (oh well, we'lll get snow eventually)

No real pattern, just cast on 48 stitches and used basic sock math to make. The yarn is Drops Big Fabel, the only worsted I've been able to find with nylon in it. Not the softest, though it does get nicer with washing. If these are anything like the pair I made him last year, they will get lots of wear and lots of washing.