Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

The little boys and I have been having some Easter fun and craftiness here!

Excited that the older kids were all going to be home this weekend, the boys decided we should do something special. So in preparation the other day they helped bake some cupcakes. We channelled our inner Martha Stewart... Ok, actually we just used her recipe for yellow cupcakes. I've been in search of a good one and this is definitely good.

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Wearing bunny ears is apparently vital to cupcake baking success...

We froze the cupcakes and I took them out and decorated them Saturday afternoon while the boys were out with Daddy. Two key points in decorating: 1)frozen is a darn sight easier to decorate than barely cool from the oven and 2)decorating sans toddler help is a darn sight easier than with toddler help. I was pretty impressed with my efforts given I usually end up frustrated, covered in icing and staring at something that resembles nothing I pictured in my head. I'm calling this endeavour a success for sure!

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Bunnies and Butterflies Oh My!

The other thing the boys had fun doing preparing for THE VISIT was to make "Easter Bags" for J and N and their girlfriends and G and her boyfriend. We shopped for treats earlier in the week then worked on the bags on Friday. I made a simple template then cut out the shapes. LTM tried some cutting, but then somehow lost interest in cutting paper and started cutting his pajama pants instead (toddlers... I will never understand them.) so I took over cutting and let the boys be in charge of assembly. I think they turned out rather cute. They even have cotton ball tails on the back of the bag. I love that each bag is unique.

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Six little bunny bags all ready to go!

Our final bit of fun was to make bunny puppets! Using the same simple template I'd made for our bags, I cut out a set of shapes for each of the boys. Instead of gluing them to bags we used large craft sticks. They had a lot of fun putting them together and drawing the little details on the faces. Once the glue all dried the little puppets proved to be a lot of fun for playing with too!

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Playing with bunny!

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Bunny goes hop hop hop!

Lots of fun! Next up is waffles for brunch then start preparing for a big turkey dinner feast for tonight! I hope all of you have a wonderful day with your loved ones. Happy Easter from our home to yours!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Some Little "Hotshots"

When I started knitting Baby Boy's Greyson in February Little Toddler Man had some serious sweater envy. So I did what any self respecting knitter would do and leapt at the chance for another project. I showed LTM a few choices and he chose Hotshot by Julia Stanfield (she designed Greyson as well!). His only stipulation was it needed to be green.

I had a few other obligations that needed finishing up first, plus a trip to the LYS in the city was required for the yarn for LTM's sweater. He waited, somewhat impatiently, imploring hopefully every time he saw me pull out my knitting bag,"Is that for my new sweater?" then would look crestfallen upon realization that no, it wasn't for his sweater.

Finally the day came that we were going to the city. A quick jaunt over to the lys and I had a very happy boy on my hands! Knitting went really quick, as always with Julia Stanfield's patterns, it was well written and easy to follow. The sweater was done in a little over a week. Big Boy Dolly's in a day. Which apparently wasn't fast enough for LTM as he would sidle past his sweater and mutter, "Looks done to me..." despite the fact I still had needles attached.

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"Looks done to me..."

I finally gave in and let him wear it before beginning the hood. Oh happy day. He was thrilled!!

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Happy as a clam in his almost finished sweater!

I actually wasn't sure I was going to get his sweater back to knit the hood, but I managed to snag it away that night and start on the hood. In my haste I made an error in my stitch count, then didn't bother with the decreases because of the mistake, then in all my wisdom added an inch in height. Oi! It's a rather large hood. I may rip it back a few inches, put those decreases in and make it a bit smaller, although I've been informed by a certain 3 1/2 year old he likes it just the way it is thank you.

Little Toddler Man and his doll's sweater were a great project for not adding to my stash. Out of two skeins of Berroco Vintage and one skein of Berroco Vintage Colors I had less than five inches of the Berroco Vintage Color left and only the trimmings off of the ends following weaving in for the green Berroco Vintage. Not bad if you ask me!!! (although somewhat hard on the nerves playing yardage chicken like that!)

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Cool little man rocking his hooded hotshot!

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Big Boy Dolly likes his too!

Once I was finished with Little Toddler Man's I moved onto Baby Boy and Baby Dolly's sweaters. I was using old stash yarn for the main colour. I do love a good stash buster and this one fit the bill. It used up the last superwash wool that I'd bought back in 1996! It was originally bought for a (yikes!!) cropped cardigan with an all over floral pattern - kind of glad I never got around to making that particular fashion disaster for myself! I think Baby Boy's Hotshot was an infinitely better use of the yarn!

I finished it late one night long after Baby Boy had gone to bed. The next morning I was excited to try it on him and snap a few photos. Unfortunately being 2 1/2, with definite opinions on what he wants to wear at a particular moment led Baby Boy to be considerably less excited about it all.

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Not too happy...

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Baby Dolly makes it only slightly better

Thankfully his opinions change with the wind and a few days later he specifically requested his new sweater!

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Little Hotshots

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Something About Lace

Earlier this winter I decided to get away from my usual knitting projects and make myself a small shawl. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting my Lingonberry Shawlette. There is something about lace. It has caught me in it's web of yarn overs and ssk's. I've been queuing up shawl patterns at a mad rate, rifling through my yarn stash, plotting, planning.

The thing, I think, that I love most about lace is how when knitting it, it really looks like nothing spectacular. All those stitches bunched up on the needles make it hard to see any sort of pattern. Then you cast off and it looks a bit better, but still like a small, ugly duckling version of it's future self. Then you block it and it's true beauty suddenly appears.

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Fresh off the needles!

I've just finished knitting the Storm Fir Shawl pattern on Ravelry. It's a beautiful shawl, knit on 8mm needles, using bulky yarn. The pattern claims it can be knit in a day! I'm sure it could have been if I ignored such trivial things as eating, sleeping or taking care of my children, but since I'm not about to forego any of those things it took me about four or five days.

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Having a bath in some Lavender Euclan wool wash
I learned a few new tricks with this one. (I always feel so smart when I learn a new trick!) First off, this shawl was being knit for warmth and somewhat on a whim. I don't generally like to buy yarn for projects that I undertake on a whim anymore because I am fickle and my whims are sometimes short-lived. So I go "shopping" mostly in my stash, which incidentally has been largely built on long forgotten whims and generous gifts from two other knitters who possibly suffered the same fickleness as myself. Anyways, where was I? Ah. Yes. Learning new tricks!

Because I was going for warmth in my shawl (it's going to be my down in the basement shawl for when I'm sewing or watching TV) I chose a blue Alafoss Lopi I had in my stash. To join such bulky yarn in my usual way of just picking up the new strand and starting knitting with it, catching the two loose ends in for a few stitches would be pretty noticeable. Especially on a project such as this. So I decided to get over the fact I've always shied away from "spit splices" for the simple fact it sounds gross. I used to spit polish my drill boots, so really how bad could it be anyways? Turns out, upon actually learning about the technique, you don't need to spit on your yarn the way I had always imagined. Really, wetting your hands under the sink tap probably works just fine if you're opposed to licking your palms as suggested in the tip from designer, Ragga Eiríksdóttir.

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Looking much better after a bath!

So spit splice was my first new trick. The second new trick I learned was a lace cast off. Which sounds like it should be complex, but isn't and I assume it's name just refers to the fact it's suitable for casting off lace, because the cast off itself is not lacey. With my Lingonberry Shawlette all I did was go up a needle size to cast off, but it still seemed a bit too tight to me. Storm Fir directs the knitter to use a sewn bind off or other stretchy method. I really don't like doing sewn bind offs so I sought the advice of the google gods and came up with this method. It simply consists of knitting two stitches together (either through the front or back loop depending on your preference - I did through the front loop for my Storm Fir), then sliding the new stitch back on the left hand needle and knitting it and the next stitch together, repeating the process until done. So very simple and not tight in the least, but not too loose either.

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After blocking the lace pattern really pops out!

I'm really happy with my "Shawl for Warmth", but next up I think I might do a fine guage shawl again. I have some "too pretty for socks" sock yarn that is begging to be knit up as maybe a Holden Shawlette or maybe Warwick or maybe the Through The Woods Shawlette. We'll see...

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Just Around The Corner

Remember how I said I was passing time waiting to go to my LYS by trying out a new pattern idea I had? Well, I finished knitting that idea and I rather like them, so I thought I'd go ahead and share it with you!

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There may be snow on the ground right now, but spring is just around the corner!

Presenting Just Around The Corner, quick to knit ankle socks that have a sweet symmetrical design featuring a delicate mock cable and floral pattern along the side of the foot. I think they are a perfect project to work on while you plan your garden, look through seed catalogs and wait for spring that hopefully is just around the corner!

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Delicate mock cables and a floral design run down the sides.

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The rest is straight stockinette making these little socks an instant gratification kind of project!

You can go ahead and grab a copy of the pattern that my amazing friend, Jeniffer, has done up in a pretty PDF by clicking here