Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hallowe'en helper

As you know, we don't have kids. But that doesn't keep me from loving Hallowe'en. We don't even get many trick-or-treaters. But I don't care! Nothing is going to stop me from carving a jack-o-lantern or two, dressing up, and making sure there is candy in the house.

And this year I had a little help with the pre-Hallowe'en mayhem...
Burton was absolutely fascinated by this whole pumpkin business.
He especially liked the bits that were coming out from the insides. 

While the little pumpkin eater was busy with the guts, I got to carving...
I have three steps up to the front door, so it's always nice to have more than one pumpkin lining the way.
They look even better lit up!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Monday, October 30, 2017

FO: Scotty Love Placemats

While we're on the topic of plaid....

I have an FO to share that makes me feel a little less guilty about my recent fabric sprees...
Not long after Dave and Mom finished refurbishing his grandma's Singer for me, I decided I need to make Grandma something.

On one of my first visits to Missouri Star Quilts, I came across the Scotty Love charm pack. For those of you who don't know, Dave's grandma is from Scotland.And she loves Scotty dogs. She loves having the family together for dinner, so I thought place mats were the perfect thing.
I used the same pattern for the mats I made for Sam last year. The Lens Mills by my house yielded up the grey sashing from the remnant bin. The backing/binding I was a little more particular on. I wanted something plaid, or plaid like...and was thrilled when I found the hounds-tooth/dotty check. It  was like it was made to match the charm pack.
Because Dave's family is fairly large, I made six mats. It's not enough for everyone, but it's rare that everyone is there for dinner all at once. There are three of each design.

And.... I did these ALL.BY.MYSELF. Complete from start to finish.
As many of you know, I usually farm the actual quilting part out to Mom. I didn't do that this time for two reasons:

1) I wanted these to be made completely on the Singer.
2) Mom's got a lot of her own projects on the go, it's not fair to keep asking her to work on mine.

Though Mom did give me a free-motion foot for the Singer, I'm not ready for that yet. So I opted for simple lines. It took a lot longer than I expected, but it was worth it. They aren't perfect, but not mad for my first shot at quilting.

Next chance at practice will be the green quilt... it's a lot bigger, so things are about to get interesting...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mad for plaid

Back to the theme of obsessions we discussed the other day...

As many of you know, I have a bit of an obsession with Old Navy - specifically their Fit and Flare dresses... (I bought a few more this summer and I think I'm topped out somewhere around 30.)

But this year, I also discovered their pajama pants... both flannel and cotton versions. Now that I work from home, I spend a lot more time in pajama pants than I really should... I think I've finally topped out there too, but due to my obsessive nature and easy distractability, I find myself on the website every other day. This of course, has led to a spate of frequent purchases (Damn you Supercash!)

But it wasn't until the packages started arriving that I really noticed a theme...

It started with this shirt back in September
A pretty, over-sized, light-weight flannel shirt. I told myself I was buying it so I would stop wearing pajama pants all day - I could throw it on with a pair of leggings, still be "jammie-pant-comfy", but be dressed enough to answer the door when the mail man came.

But the truth was. I LOVE flannel. I blame my father, king of the flannel shirt. I also love plaid. Like reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally love plaid. Part of that is my Scottish heritage... but most of it is purely esthetic  - I love how it looks - classic but colourful.

Anyway... over last month and a half the plaid started pouring in...
Another classic flannel - (Stewart tartan, which is Dave's clan).
ANOTHER pair of jammie pants... because Flannel+Plaid+Jammie pants... you can't say no to a triple threat like that.
There was something about these Stevie pants that just scream "punk rock" to me. I had to have them.
I'm queen of the dress around these parts (I rarely wear pants, even in the winter) so a plaid shirt dress was a no brainer.
The last thing I need is more shoes... but you can't reason with an obsession like this. I rationalized it by telling myself they were flats, and I'm walking much more now, so I need flat shoes.
This last one is probably the only one I actually did need. While I don't have a lot of wait time between transit connections, I've learned that five minutes when the wind is blowing can feel like eternity. Last year I had to buy a new, lighter-coloured coat because I was walking in the dark more. Unlike my old coat, it does not have a hood, or a collar that you can stand up an block the wind. A blanket scarf is the perfect solution. And if it's a happy, colourful plaid, so much the better. I thought this would go particularly well with my favourite handspun hat.

But now I really do need to reign things in.... or I'm never going to save enough for new wheels! (I wonder if you can get plaid interior on a car...)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Empire Knits Back

A few months ago, I was reveling in a productive streak - one where I was finishing things left and right, feeling a huge sense of accomplishment.

As will all good things, it's come to and end. While I still have the desire to do all the things, I seem to have lost the drive...

Well that's not quite right... more like I seem to have found the distractions. I get up each morning with a plan, and before I know it, the day is almost over and I've accomplished nothing. And I'm not entirely sure where the day went.

One of those plans is to knit every night on the Empire Line cardigan. I'm on the second front, and while it's not exactly a fast knit, I should be further along than I am.
I'm a few pattern repeats to the yoke decreases, where things really speed up. In my heart, I really want to get this one done. I hate to let a project linger for more than a year (this was started in February), so I've got that deadline in the back of my mind.. but the weather is finally cool enough that I could wear this... if it was finished... of course...

My plan is to knit on it every night while we watch Supernatural. We watch 2-3 episodes each night, so that a good few hours of knitting... but I always seem to get distracted! (Damn you, Bubble Witch!). I think I'm going to have to start hiding my phone and my computer... and just stick to it!

I'd love to have the front done before we run out of episodes on Netflix. (We are on the last season now).

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Felines

As some of you have commented...
Our little Lord Bearbottom is pretty flooftastic. He's not a true long-hair - more of a medium-hair cat. From some angles he doesn't look fluffy at all.  But that tail..
It's a regular feather duster. And it only gets fluffier when he's excited.

His belly is pretty fluffy too...
But what I really love...
Are his floofy toes. There are much more prominent on the back feet. It kills me how much extra fur is there. It makes his footfalls absolutely silent - that combined with his dark colour - and he's the ultimate ninja cat!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Playing hooky

When I was on vacation the other week, I ended up having to work a couple days. My job is project-based, and I'm the only one in the company for my role. There are weeks where I'm twiddling my thumbs, with nothing to do, and there are weeks where I'm working evenings and weekends to get everything done on time.

We try to schedule my vacations around the leaner times, but it's not always predictable. So my boss and I have a deal - while I'm off, I keep an eye on my email for any urgent work, and if I have to work, I track it and take the time off when things are quiet.

Yesterday was one such day. I called the boss, told him I was skipping out for the day. Mom showed up soon after, and we headed off on a road trip!
We were headed to Port Dover, about an hour south of us, on the shores of Lake Erie. The day was cool, and there was a storm brewing over the Lake, but we had perfect weather. We were headed here...
There's a Lens Mills just a couple kilometres from my place (I can walk to it!) But the Port Dover Lens is much bigger - it has two buildings! There's one for the usual surplus sell-off stuff they carry (clothes and house wares and everything in between), but the other building (in the foreground) is just chock full of nothing but fabric and yarn and all the little goodies that go with it!

As I mentioned when I stopped there the other week with Dave, they have a great selection of fat quarters. This time around, I didn't have Dave with me, so I had lots of time to comb through it all. 
I came home with these 16 pretties. While Mom was looking for certain colours, I'm just stash-building. I bought anything that caught my eye.

I was also in need of a few pairs of scissors - I'm pretty sure Dave has absconded with most of the pairs we have kicking around.
I did get a couple "normal" pairs, but I just couldn't resist this Hello Kitty pair. I also grabbed the same pompom makers Mom has. Now I don't need to run to her every time I make a pompom!

After shopping, we had lunch on Lake. The storm was getting closer...
...but we finished well before it reached the shore, and headed home! A perfect way to play hooky from work!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Slipping away

Despite a warmer than normal October, the weather seems like it's beginning to turn. I've prepared the gardens for winter the best I can. Now all I can do is enjoy what's left, then wait for spring.
The Butterfly Bush really loves the cooler weather - she's started blooming again.
The little Violas are still blooming. Most of the other colours died off in the high heat, but this one and the white/purple ones survived. I hope they make it through winter.
My Strawberry Mango Smoothie Coneflower is looking good.
As is my late-blooming Lupin.
And this pretty Susan was a surprise. It popped up suddenly beside the BBQ. I have no idea how it got there.  The leaves are different from my other Susans in the Big Bee garden. They are similar to the double bloom Susans, but as you can see - these are single blooms. I've moved the plant to the Little Bee garden. Hopefully it has enough time to put down some good roots and come back next year - I do love Black-Eyed Susans!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Garden cat gardens.

It's been almost a week since we officially took Relic in and got him all fixed up. He's adapted to the change in circumstance beautifully.

He goes out every morning after breakfast. He does go off on little jaunts, but he really still spends most of his time sleeping on the patio chairs. When he gets hungry, he sits on the back step until I notice him and let him in. At first, he'd just eat and run, but now, more often than not, he has a little cat nap before heading out in the great outdoors.By 9 pm he's usually in for the night, which he spends alternating between snuggles with me and Dave.

And when I'm outside in my gardens, he confident enough to be a full-time snoopervisor - even out front!
I took some time on Sunday to get my spring bulbs planted and Relic followed me right from the back yard to the front. That's something he's never done before. While I dug and planted, he made himself comfortable...
Unfortunately, it was on my kneeling mat, so I ended up with sore, dirty knees... but hey - at least Relic was happy!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Nature's bounty on my doorstep

This weekend saw a long overdue visit with the wonderful, Aneesha. She came down by train, and Dave lent me the car for the day, so I was able to pick her up and chauffeur her around for some fun.

The weather was just perfect for some outdoor fun, so we decided on a hike. The car needs some work, so Dave wasn't keen on me taking it too far. Fortunately, I live in the most amazing place/There's a large escarpment that cuts the city in half east to west. Since it can't be built on, it means there's some amazing natural lands right in the middle of the city - and the Bruce Trail runs right along it.

 The closest access to the trail is over at Battlefield park, where I attended the War of 1812 re-enactment earlier in the summer. Before we headed for the trail, we checked out the war monument.
Despite all my years here, I've never checked it out up close. It's very tall and built on a hill so you can see it from miles around. But it's even cooler close up. I was hoping we'd be able to go inside, but it was locked up... something to check out another day. So, after that we headed across the old battlefield to the trails.
 We crossed through a beautiful meadow that was just full of butterflies and grasshoppers.
It was lined with gorgeous red sumacs...
Once we hit the escarpment, things were still pretty green.
The trail was easy at first, but the longer we walked, the higher we got, and the rougher the trail got.
But still breathtakingly beautiful. So hard to believe that there's a subdivision less than five-hundred feet beyond those trees.

We were headed to a place called the Devil's Punchbowl - a large rounded gorge with a couple of waterfalls.
We made it to the lower falls, but unfortunately, couldn't get much further.  A five foot chunk of the trail, which runs along a 20 foot drop, was washed away.  So we stopped to enjoy the view.
Including the look-out platform on the cliff above us. Had we been adventurous, we could have taken the another trail, but it was a much longer, harder hike than we were prepared for that day.

But there's always another weekend!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The sock train

With Jaywalker off my needles, I'm officially done with the KAL.  It was time to get back to my regularly scheduled sock knitting... which meant my On The GO designs. I have 12 designed planned, and only five knit so far. When I started, I'd planned to get them all done by the end of the year. Obviously, that's not going to happen.

Especially when I looked at the calendar.

I hate to use the C-word before Hallowe'en... but we're all crafters here. You've just got to think about Christmas early if you're a crafter.

I'm not making all my presents this year, but their are a few on the list. And if I don't want to go insane come December, I've got to get a wiggle on.

So when the Worsted Weight sock yarn I'd ordered at the start of the month arrived just as I finished up the Jaywalkers, I knew it was a sign.
Big heavy boot socks are just perfect for train knitting. This leg and most of a foot were knit up over one evening and one train trip home (about four hours).

This pair is for Dad. I'd originally made him a pair back in 2014 with the intention of them being used as hunting socks - some extra warmth for the bush. But Mom says he wears them all winter long - especially around the house.

The second pair will be for my brother, who not only goes hunting with Dad, but lives in Owen Sound... the land of cold and snow.

Unfortunately, this yarn has now been discontinued. I was lucky to get these balls... so if any one can suggested a good hard-wearing worsted wool/nylon blend (self-striping is a bonus, but not necessary), please let me know. Despite constant wear, Dad's first pair is still going strong. I'd love to make more!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday stash enhancements

The other day, Bridget over at the Ravell'd Sleeve asked about any new obsession we had...

I had to admit to at least one...

Ever since my last order, I've been stalking the site, filling my basket with favourites. I promised myself I wouldn't buy anything until the perfect Daily Deal came along...
Or should we say the "purrfect" daily deal.
10 inch squares of cat-themed fabrics in my favourite colours... at almost half price? How could I resist?

And since it's flat-rate shipping, you have the take advantage and fill your cart!

I filled mine with:

A fat-quarter pack of Wonderland-themed fabrics!
I'd actually preferred the blue version of this set (which is unusual, I'm not really a blue person), but it sold out before I could get it, so I didn't want to let this one get away. I had no plans for it - I was just so drawn to it (Alice is one of my favourite stories)... but this week a coworker revealed that she is pregnant, so this may have a use after all! (Unless I decide to keep it for myself - I really do love it).

It's a similar story with these dragonfly fabrics...
When I first discovered the site, these charm packs were sold out. I was so disappointed because the fabrics are stunning - vivid colours, bold prints and metallic details. When they came back into stock, I wasn't letting them get away. Again... no plan for these, but I'm sure I'll find a good use.

This charm pack is the only one that does have a plan...
...but it's a present, so I can't say much more.

And the site offers "mystery" charm packs at discounted prices, so I thought what the heck... I love a good surprise...
I wasn't disappointed. The pack also includes similar prints in a dark red. I'm not sure I love it with the purple, so this pack may get split into different projects... those purple ones would pair nicely with the set above...

I'd like to say this is the last of the fabric buying for a while... but Mom and I have a shopping play date this coming week... and both of us need a few more things from MSQC... we're just waiting on another good Daily Deal...

... and it is an obsession, after all!