Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Those google searches...

In the spirit of Suzanne's post yesterday I thought I'd share today's fun search that brought someone to my site...

gorgeous tan lines

Yes, someone typed in 'gorgeous tan lines' and it brought them to this post.

Sorry, no tanning advice here, aside from the tongue-in-cheek variety.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh, and a little news

I got a note from a lovely customer who lives in Saudi Arabia. Apparently one of the her quilts (that I quilted for her) won a prize at the Dhahran show - yow!

Thanks for letting me know, Brenda!


photo essay : 1st big snow day

This first photo was taken at 6:30 this morning. Youngest LOVES snow and was already aching to get outside.

The rest of the photos were taken on our walk to school.

I shoveled the driveway this morning, so this snow better not all melt away by noon!

Happy snow day,


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rock Paper Scissors mitts

I know I promised this a little while ago, but here it finally is...the quick fingerless mitt pattern I worked up last weekend.

I'm calling them the "Rock Paper Scissors Mitts" in honour of our favourite portable game.

I used leftover Alafoss Lopi for Oldest's, and 3 strands of mystery acrylic for Youngest's.

Here goes:

With 6.5 mm needles, cast on 26 sts. (Use a provisional cast on if you like. I used a two needle cast on and was still able to graft the mitts at the through and decide for yourself)

K 34 rows garter stitch (K each row). Cast off 4 sts at beginning of next row.
Continue in garter st for 10 rows more.

Graft 22 sts on needle to cast on sts. Graft last 4 sts to the ones cast off 10 rows ago.

Now make another one...before you do the grafting, make sure that you have a left and a right. I actually made the second one in reverse (casting on 22, k 10 rows, cast on 4 sts, k 34 rows, graft), but you don't need to. I do suggest that if you want to do this that you make a right and a left just so that the grafted stitches will be on the palm of each hand - in case of small grafting idiosyncrasies...

These mitts fit me, too, but you can make them larger by knitting a few extra rows. Try them on as you go. The first 34 rows should go around your wrist with a little ease. If not, knit another 2 rows and try it on again.

I know it's a pretty bare-bones pattern, but I was able to reproduce it enough to make mitts for both boys in time for the arm wrestling competition.

Let the games begin!


(I know some of you eager and competent knitters out there will treat this like jazz and make your own modifications and variations - if you do take the time to make some, let me know. I'd love to see them.)

This morning

We woke to find that last night's snowfall was still here...
Not for long, though. It's almost all gone again.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

I just can't help myself.

Well, my hands were warm on the walk to school. And I have something to lend to my kids for 'wear pink day' tomorrow for the school's anti-bullying in action day.

I am tired, though. I stayed up waaaaay too late finishing the other mitt. (Something that shows in my pattern knitting toward the end. I was working kind of 'off chart' in the wee hours there.)

Yikes. Mustn't make a habit of this. I'm positively pooped. It's almost enough to make me have a cup of coffee...almost.

Happy stitching,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Okay. I admit it.

I'm totally entranced by Ravelry.

My late night knitting has taken a serious turn since the invitation in my inbox here about a month ago. It's amazing the sheer number of people out there knitting and designing knitting.

I think my favorite feature is that when researching a pattern one click of the mouse I will let me look at any projects that other members have made/are making using this same pattern (or yarn). I can read their notes for modifications or errata, can see the effect of different yarns knit in the same pattern and how the finished projects look...on REAL people. It's fantastic.

My latest obsession is fingerless mitts. I've designed a pair that knit up quickly, and once the boys slow down long enough for me to take their pictures, I'll post the pictures and pattern for those.

On the right is a picture of my first 'Endpaper Mitt'. I haven't done multicolour knitting in a while and wasn't sure that I was up to the challenge, but things are progressing quite well. I'm looking forward to doing the next one so that I can actually wear them! I used leftover sock wool (the red/pink/orange is actually a self-striping wool, not a bunch of different wools). Of course I've already sat down and charted a version of my own - for the NEXT pair - maybe I'll do dragons on the back, maybe leaves and vines... aaaaaAAAAAA! Too many ideas! Too little time!!!

The magic of Ravelry is that I know that there are, at this time, 524 different people either making or finished making these mitts, and over 1300 who have this on their 'must make' list. There are over 35,000 users of this site. My goodness.

Now if someone could design a site like this for quilters....imagine.

Back to quilting,


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another week in review - Heartstrings

I promise I'll break this review into smaller posts...but I thought you might like to see the kind of quilty mayhem my room has been this week.

This photo was taken at what was by no means the peak, but it was at a good point. It was a point at which I felt like, "hey, I DO get stuff done around here!"

The photo of my space is taken from behind my quilting machine...a vantage point that I often have, but most visitors here never get.

I spent some time this week outside of my regular work doing some charity quilts for an organiziation that's close to my heart, the Heartstrings Quilt Project. I was sent three quilt tops earlier this year from one of the other members, Sue, and they have been waiting for me to quilt long last they are done! This first one was quilted with a pattern called 'popcorn' by Jodi Beamish. Look at how Sue carefully placed these blocks to give make two pretty, so subtle. This quilt will be donated to the Support Services area of the Kelowna Cancer Clinic.

In that same package Sue sent two other quilt tops (pieced by Sue and Joan) that are destined for the Canadian Quilts of Valour program. Both are wonderful, aren't they? This is another charity that has spoken so deeply to me. With family in the military it's often present in my mind the real danger that our soldiers are in. Quilts from this project go both to wounded soldiers and to families of fallen soldiers.

At what point do I mention that Sue and Joan are in the US? It takes generous hearts to give over such a distance.

The pattern I used to quilt these is 'Maple Syrup' by Jodi Beamish...she generously donated the pattern for this purpose.

It was a bit of a blue week for me. I was a bit lonely, feeling like our move is never going to happen, like I'm not getting anything done. Working on these quilts made me feel so much better! I hope they will bring joy to someone. Someone who can feel that there are legions of caring people out there, some who took the time to make something just for them.

Happy stitching,


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Just a quick note

I just had a peek over at and saw that Jodi has got almost my whole catalogue of designs up in digital format for computer operated machines...including my two newest patterns, Bombay Blossom and Mums.

A week in review...

Believe it or not, I've been writing blog posts all week - in my mind. At one point I came quite close to posting a photo of my studio in all it's quilty mayhem - I finished several quilts this week and there was a point at which I had 3 finished quilts waiting to be boxed and mailed, one finished quilt hanging to be photographed, and two out in different areas in the room with thread proposals on them waiting to be photographed and emailed to the quilt's owners. Somehow I opted to just keep working instead.

Today I've got my machine part way through my 'large maintenance routine', waiting for the WD40 to drip out of the bobbin area. Every month or so I take a day to check the timing on the machine (99% of the time it is fine), clean out the excess oil from inside the machine head, clean all the wheels and rails thoroughly ( I use q-tips with rubbing alcohol on them on the wheels) and clean out the bobbin race really thoroughly with WD40. It's amazing how much gunk gets in there, even though I wipe out that area frequently with my stiff brush and oil often. Once the WD40 has dried completely, I'll re-oil the bobbin race, let it run for a while, then stitch out some test bits to make sure there is no yucky stuff in the oil, no residue left in the race, and then I'll be ready to go again.

This week I did a bit of playing with my new-to-me knitting machine, and have consequently ordered some parts for it (!).

I did finish a hand knitting project I've been working on for over a month, a fan-and-feather stitch shawl in a lovely, soft merino wool I bought on Etsy. I'd give you a link to the specific store, but it seems to have temporarily evaporated! The photos, sadly, do not do this hand-dyed yarn justice. It's far more plummy/purply/raspberry/rhubarb than the photos here would suggest.

I also crocheted a couple of child-sized hats for a charity my Mom works at...and I realize now with our long weekend they'll not get to her until Wednesday (sorry, Mom. The holiday/post conflict completely slipped my mind).

I got a little bit more work done here and there on Blossom Lady, mostly just filling in the background with a nice dark indigo blue (their name for it is 'Midnight'), and deepening some of the shadows in her garment.

Now that there is some real contrast going on the areas that I was already working on seem quite washed out...time to go put some BOLD contrast in this baby. Unfortunately I spilled one of my ink pots on my work space and now have to wait until it is THOROUGHLY washed and dried before I dare to put the piece back on it. Of course I spilled the darkest colour. Of course I lost more than half the little dye pot to my clumsiness. Blargh.

Well, off to check on my machine and put it back together. It always runs so much happier after this little wee pick-me-up.

Happy stitching,


PS - I was floored by an unexpected and generous hearted gift this week. Thanks so much, Tracy. You really touched my heart. Thank you.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why Saturday is good

Yesterday was lovely. It was cold, it was rainy and once we came in from cleaning up the Hallowe'en decorations, there wasn't much reason to go outside.

It was the perfect day to make granola.

I've been making granola since about '92, I think, when I worked for a family in Vancouver as the nanny. The Mom in that family had a recipe that I made regularly for them and have been making variations on ever since.

This makes the whole house smell amazing.

If you ever want to make it, this is how:

In a really big bowl mix:

1/2 C raw sugar (demarara)
5 C rolled oats (the old fashioned kind)
1 C wheat germ
1 C unsweetened coconut ( or chopped nuts if you have an allergy to coconut)
1 C sunflower and sesame seeds
(and 1/2 C poppy seeds if you like)

In a separate container mix:

1/2 tsp sea salt dissolved in 1 Tbsp milk
1/2 C honey
1/2 C oil (canola, sunflower, whatever is in the cupboard except olive)

Heat the honey, oil and dissolved salt in milk. This will help the two combine better (before you heat them you can call in your kids for a little lesson on liquid densities, water vs. oil based compounds, and emulsifiers - or not).

Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix well. Divide out on to shallow baking sheets and bake at 275 degrees, stirring occasionally, until toasted.

Let cool, store in an airtight container. Serve with milk, or yogurt, or just eat it straight out of your hand for a crunchy treat.

Confession time....

I make it this way now and then. Mostly I wing it a bit (as I do with most recipes). Usually I add about a cup of chopped nuts and more seeds. Usually I double the recipe. I do use the basic framework ratio of dry to wet, sweetener to oil, but I have made this substituting maple syrup for the honey (all or in part), or buckwheat honey for the regular liquid honey. The dry ingredients usually are somewhat dependant upon what's in my cupboard. I've used 9 grain cereal mix to substitute for part of the oats when I didn't have enough. Once it's all done and cooled, it's nice to chop up some dried papaya or mango (or even to throw in a handful of raisins or other dried fruit) and mix them in your finished granola.

So there. Go. Have fun.

Oh - and this is the view from our kitchen. I'm starting to say little goodbyes to this house (not that anyone has looked at buying it), and have started to take photos here and there of daily things I have loved living here the last 8 years. Looking out over the treefort that DH built has certainly been one of those things.

Oh, and a second confession...

We didn't stay in all day. We went to the hotsprings.