Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy Knitty Ewe Year!

So here I sit with a cup of tea wondering what new challenges will come my way in 2011. Not crazy life changing moral dilemma challenges... been there-did that-didn't like it-hurt too much. No... I'm looking for fun creative challenges that will lighten my soul and put a spark in my heart. I'm not looking to change the world... just my little corner of it. So, tie back the hair and get down to it...

I'm relatively new to this knitting world and have so much still to learn. So many techniques... so much yarn... so little time. That may well be the challenge... learn a new technique with each new project. That's doable, don't you think? Not world changing, I know, but the knitting world is small. Learning new techniques requires a circle of like hearts to guide and help along the way. My circle of mentors, both in person and on Ravelry, are very special to me. Might that be another challenge...  help new knitters like those who have guided me along my way.  Well... these hands might well be busy this year... creating, typing, helping... my soul feels lighter already!

Happy Knitty Ewe Year!!!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Hah... Bumhug!

It's amazing how a little thing can turn one into a Ms. Scrooge. Lets just say that work certainly gets in the way of merriment! Life is pretty stressful as it is this time of year but add to it work poop... well, it's all one can do to not start nipping into the eggnog before hitting the shower first thing in the morning!

Top it all off... because work just isn't as fun as it used to be... Boss: Can you review this report? Me: Really? Nothing will come of it anyways... it's all I can do to stay focused outside of work and not get all worked up about knitted projects not yet done! Yup... so need some time away to recharge and stop complaining about, well... everything! You know it's bad when knitting a gift for someone you love turns into another chore! HUMBUG!

I gotta turn this around... have a cup of tea while knitting up Poppa's muff for his always cold hands and enjoy it's cable goodness... sit back and know that work will turn around cuz' (heaven forbid) it might actually just be me in all my crankiness! But, I'll worry about that in the new year. In the mean time... finish my last knitted gift and try to remember to start gift knitting in February! Yup... gotta turn this around... HAH... BUMHUG!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Crackers... Nuts n' Bolts

Christmas traditions drives me nuts! Don't get me wrong... I love 'em. From the fruitcake (I LOVE fruitcake) to the snacks to those wonderful Christmas Crackers that, with crossed arms and fingers, they 'snap' when they're supposed to and that the hat stays on the head all through the dinner! But no matter how much planning I do in my head... and there is a lot of activity in there... I never seem to learn. Crazy Christmas knitting begins not in June... but in November. Christmas baking begins not in November but in December. My massage therapist has her work cut out for her in attempting to work out the kinks and knots from the lower back to the tips of the fingers...  note to self... finish her gift!

Panic began to set in when I couldn't find my dear friend's recipe for Nut's n' Bolts. I know I have a screw loose but I was becoming unhinged! To make matters worse (in a creative way, mind you) my 'sister' Miss Meagheen has been sending fantastic mini Christmas ornaments to knit but it's the middle of December and there is no time to add to the list. Besides... where is that recipe... ooo, that yarn would work really well with that ornament... SHINY!!

Thank goodness for my dear friend, Marian in re-re-re-sending her recipe (have since saved in 3 different folders and 2 computers). Thank goodness for dear Meagheen's really easy pattern for... CHRISTMAS CRACKERS!!!! Yes... it's a week before The Day and I'm knitting these up that were not on the 'must do' gifts list. You gotta admit... they're adorable and the perfect reusable "wrapping paper". Now to just make them 'snap' and not get all that salty Nuts n' Bolts goodness all through yarny goodness. Planning is for next year. I know... it's just crazy town!!!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

We three gals...

No one knows how long it takes to heal a broken heart. For a while there I thought that time had forgotten mine. Good thing my friends hadn't. They carried my hope and held my heart while I struggled through the tears. It's been over 4 years since the ex left me for another. Every so often something triggers the pain and it hurts just a little... then the moment passes as quickly as it came and I smile at all that I have gained since.

Many summers were spent at the log cabin in Jasper National Park... from re-chinking to re-roofing and making that wood stove pretty again... the wee cabin in the mountains was my respite. I don't go there now... someone else enjoys my hard work. But what was worse... I wouldn't go to Jasper because of the memories. Then along came my two gal pals who decided I needed to 'Take Back Jasper'... and boy, did we! That first summer... in a rented cabin by Miette Hot Springs... we laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank and we laughed some more. We agreed to do it again the following year and we have ever since. Now dubbed our 'Jane Austen Weekend', we arrive with the linen table cloth, wine glasses and the Pimm's pitcher in that wee Miette Hot Springs cabin. We end with breakfast in Jasper and a stop over at Stitchin Time... a most delightful yarn shop.

Trish and Co are very special chosen sisters and I wanted to give them something for Christmas and from my heart as they were part of that small handful who helped heal it. Something warm and soft and cuddly... much like they are! We three gals are most blessed to have each other... and our Jane Austen weekend!

Friday, 3 December 2010

No small feet!

Count down to Christmas continues as does the panic. Three scarves and one ear flap toque done. One more scarf, two more toques, muff and a felted bag to go. I'm positive there's more on my list but I just can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that there are only 21 days left to knit! And if I didn't have to work... I really would have 21 days to knit! I've been so busy with big yarn and stix for the scarves that my fingers need to re-adjust to toothpix knitting!

Yup, time again to get back to wee knitting and my fingers are rebelling. The wee knitting is for a gift exchange. Oh, I could go to a store and purchase an ornament to exchange... but what's the fun in that? I mean... it's just a tree ornament we're to give and how hard is that? Yikes.... famous last words... Took an hour to cast on 3 stitches, make an i-cord and cast on a further 15 stitches for a mini-mitten! Dropped the 'toothpix' a couple of times... dropped the stitches a couple more times... did I say it took ONE HOUR to complete a 2 inch i-cord, cast on 15 more stitches and knit one round!!! Why, oh why was this taking so long? Jeese... the mini sock was done with no real issues (only had to frog back once) but this mini-mitten was nearly the death of me. My fingers needed to work just little bit differently.

The techniques were all the same... maybe that's the learning... sometimes we need to 'stray' from our usual way of doing things for the outcomes to be brilliant. The tools are the same... maybe a little smaller... maybe a little fancier... but the tools are essentially the same. As in all things new or different... the foundation is there. It's how we accomplish the final outcome that, at times, is the real challenge. Nope, not going to buy an ordinary ornament... I'd rather have frenzied panic and learn a little more about myself while creating something special for a friend. Besides... the friendship will be that much stronger!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Christmas is coming... this goose better not get fat!

It's -25c right now with a windchill that would make a polar bear shudder. Snow covers the car and driving is rather nasty.  I think the critters that eat all summer to prepare for hibernation all winter have got something there! Just imagine... all that greasy goodness and sugary satisfaction then sleep all winter only to emerge to start all over again. There certainly are some days I wished I coulda slept right through but that's another story...

I can deal with the snow and cold... I can't deal with fingers so cold that even knitting won't warm them up! This isn't good because there are still some Christmas projects sitting in the queue... toques for my wee nephews, mitts for Poppa, mini sock decorations for friends, scarves and Guinness toques for other friends. I do this to myself every year... I have great organizational plans in January only to be pulled aside for lacy shawls, socks, test knits, dreaming through knitting books and more socks that, sadly,  I keep for my own feet! By the time the first snow fall arrives I'm in a dead panic. There isn't enuff Guinness to help me get through the "OMG... I don't have enuff time" syndrome.

So snow has fallen and I really need to hibernate in order to get my knitting projects finished! But... would it be in bad form if they ended on next year's list and I head over to the shops in the mall? Mind you... I better stay away from all the greasy goodness of fish 'n chips!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Time to clean up...

Used up my last bar of homemade soap and realized I haven't made any for well over a year. Yup, I can make soap... the old fashioned lye and fat kind. Well actually, sodium hydroxide and an assortment of vegetable oils but still the the same old "cold process" method. It's almost as relaxing as knitting. Almost because cleanup is a lot messier than just putting the yarn and stix down on the chesterfield and walking away.

Yup, I can make soap but realized, like most crafts and hobbies, if you don't do it for a while... you kinda loose some skill. Well... that's what happened. First batch didn't blend very well... no matter how long I swirled the glop... it didn't get to the correct thickness before I could even think about pouring it into the molds. What was wrong? Realized I didn't read the scale properly. Suffice it to say... too much oil and not enuff lye makes for a really bad batch! Yarn buddy and I laughed (I only had half a glass of wine and she can't drink... she's making a baby) as we both forgot our math skills. I told her this is what to look for when the glop doesn't work out. Preceded to the next batch and it worked perfectly... telling her this was what the glop is supposed to look like.

I'm reminded of a recent test knit... frogged it back three times because it wasn't working out. After continued chatting with Miss M, the designer, we got it sorted. I know what it's not supposed to look like... and in a few days we'll know what it will look like. Yup, like life, it's all a learning process. Certainly, some life lessons can be rather costly, some even heart breaking... but in the end, with a little re-jigging along with some twists and unexpected turns, things do eventually work out. The outcome may a bit of a surprise but that's what makes the journey worth while. Now, time to clean up the mess in the soap factory!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Small comforts...

My on-line Ryan family has lived through many joys and sorrows... which is not hard for a family of over 20 siblings. Often my Ryan family deals with all this at the same time. New babies recently born and there is such joy. But a young adult has recently passed and there is such sorrow. So much is taken for granted and so much is forgotten to give thanks for. Hard for me to fathom as I just have a baby brother to contend with.

My heart hurts for my adopted Ryan family... but I'm also just a wee bit jealous. Stay with me on this... in my family, there is just the two of us, my brother and I. Broken I would be if he was no longer there. He is my rock but there are times I could use other rocks. Not because Bro isn't a good rock but I feel the need for a back up or two just in case he isn't around when I need him. See, totally selfish. But then... my back up rocks are the Ryan's and maybe that is why my heart hurts for them... I know they would be there for me when needed... like they know I am there for them when needed.
So as they support each other and their sister who is grieving over the loss of her daughter... I move up my test knit queue a very special design... Siobhan... in honour of the designer's sister. The sister is strong and am told she is a little like thistle... a wee bit prickly (not unlike meself!) but beautiful like the thistle flower to all who truly know her.

These socks are for Siobhan... sometimes it is the small comforts that can carry a broken heart. That is all we need to remember. Oh,  and don't forget to give thanks for all the rocks in your world... be a good rock yourself.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Old and New...

Old friends with new babies... what a delightful reason to knit!

I have this amazing group of friends... no... family by choice is what they are. Well, two very special little girls have entered our 'family' circle. Sadly, we will not be seeing them on a daily basis or monthly for that matter. They are here visiting Poppa's home town...  their full-time residence is Mum's home town... London. Yes... that London.

We delighted in watching their parents love grow... and we will delight in watching these little girls grow... albeit from afar through pictures and stories. But they are now a part of our circle of friends... and where ere Eva and Naomi be... they will grow up knowing that they are loved and cherished from far, far away.

So... every stitch was made with love and a kiss... they will be the snappiest lil' ladies in ol' London Town.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tomorrow I'll procrastinate!

Actually, I'm not a procrastinator... I'm a perfectionist. If I can't do it right the first time around... I'll put off what ever I'm doing. I forget that sometimes it's not about the end result but about the process. It's not about the finished product but about the learning's that get me there. Easier said than done... I have a sweater project that's been sitting in the basket for nearly two years because I can't seem to sort out the sleeve bit. More recently... I have a sock and shawl waiting for me to finish. They are test knits for my dear Miss M. I'm nearly done the shawl but can't seem to get my mind around one section... stoopid brain farts... don't get me started on the sock issue! While Miss M and I have seemingly sorted these out... I have yet to pick up the stix to give it a go.

Oh, I have lots of psycho babble I can use to explain this all away... bottom line... I'm afraid of getting it wrong and appearing stupid. In other words, I'm human. Knitting is testing my patience while teaching me patience. Because of this, I've learned new skills... accomplished my 'new year's goal' to learn to do cables. This is important... I never follow through with these things. I either don't bother trying or give up at first set-back. This time tho... I tried, followed through and voila... love doing cables! Oh, I made some mistakes but as a result of working through it all... a new skill was born. OK, OK... patience through process... I need to hang on to this while I go dig out those test knits from under the pile of laundry.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Pier of Feet...

There is something to be said for holiday knitting... it is the perfect excuse to knit all day. "Because I'm on holidays!" became the line of the day. I only had two goals... finish the birthday socks for the gal pal as that was the reason for the get-away AND complete a test knit on a very special sock design by Miss Meagheen. Both required attention paying... both were on a deadline.... but I was on holidays!!!

Because the west coast was our destination... the goal was to knit on every pier of the places we went to. Knitting out on a pier with the wind blowing the yarn about ones self and the gulls flying above is a delightful feeling for the prairie gal! So, pier knitting I did. And to make it more enjoyable... the sun shone the whole time.

There truly is something to be said about holiday knitting... enjoying the sun... the wind... the waves... and smiling with each and every stitch.  So, here's to all the piers out there waiting for other knitters to create glorious memories of their own. Oh, and the socks... done right on time!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Autumnal Musings...

It's fall... well, actually it's been feeling like fall for a few weeks now. Digging out the scarves and shawls and capes and all the while wondering where summer went... and dreaming of summers past. Why is it that that first chill in the air brings on feelings of melancholy? Where did the summer go... what did I do... did I accomplish anything... did I have fun? Why can't I wear summer dresses anymore?! Then my thoughts turn to "Christmas is coming and I haven't really started knitting the presents that I want to give". What a conundrum I am in. Oh, the yarn is purchased for all the various projects and the patterns picked... but nary a thing is cast on. Too busy doing test knits for Meagheen or finishing birthday presents. Mind you... some of those test knits will become Christmas presents... but still... I'm so far behind I can see me own arse! But now that Fall is here... time to start thinking about those other knitty things that I'm so far behind in. So what did I do... well, that brings me to my latest fun knit project. And it has nothing to do with Christmas or presents of any sort but everything to do with battling the soon to come winter weather. Squirrel!

Introducing the Laptop Sweater! Well, actually this was more about knitting up a laptop cover that was more portable than the briefcase thing. Getting ready for a road trip holiday and yes, I intend to bring the laptop for whom I've named 'Sir Arthur'... Guinness that is, not the Round Table dude. Sir Arthur holds all the patterns I intend to knit while on holidays... yes, I'm trying to be ecologically friendly and all. So, while I dig around for more scarves and knit up more shawls... Sir Arthur can be just as cozy as the rest of us.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The importance of being family...

There is something to be said about having friends with the same likes...

I have grown rather fond of my knitting buddies. Some I have met and knit with regularly in my local area. They are an amazing group of ladies and I have learned so much from them... some of it is even about knitting! We meet in the coffee shop, the pub, the fish n' chip shop, the LYS... we seek advice on Ravelry and some of it is even about knitting! They have become a group of sisters by choice... my world has changed because of them and I am grateful.

Then there are others that I have only met on line but my friends they still are. Let me tell you about the Ryan Clan... I first met on Ravelry on one of the "Father Ted's" fan group... love that feckin' show! Through conversations and life circumstances I was invited to join the Ryan Family group... and me world has changed... again.

The Ryan Clan is about family... some are blood... some family by choice and I am honoured to be one of the chosen. One of the chosen sisters posted the following: We all have found such a wonderful home here with the Ryan’s. No matter what has ever gone on either on-line or in the real world, here we always find a kind word, a yummy recipe, lovely patterns and many, many kind words and stories. So let’s return the favor in kind... and we were then asked to share a kind word or two about the family. I couldn't single anyone out for I knew I would miss someone. So, here is my favour in kind...

The Ryan Clan... we are a very eclectic group! Some live on this side of The Pond... others live across The Pond; some have visited Ireland (the Ryan homeland)... others dream of doing so; some are under 50... some are over; some have children/grandchildren... others do not; some work outside the home... others work in the home; some knit... some crochet; some design... others test knit the designs.... I could go on and on but as you can see, we are like any other family. We chat, we question, we cry, we laugh, and we tease... oh, do we tease! There is always one in the family that the teasing is focused a little more on... not that we love them more or less... but the shoulders are broad and the teasing... well, frankly is encouraged.

This takes me to Murphy the Sheep with his pink bum (that's another story)... and to Meagheen who designs these very special and funny mini socks. Murphy gets into trouble where ever he goes... and that's half the fun. The other half is helping Meagheen finding different ways for Murphy to get into trouble. Then off she goes to design the story onto a wee sock! I'm not very good at two colour stranding let alone all the millions of colours she uses... well, not millions but it feels like it... so others in the family will test knit! I wanted to give back to the Ryan Clan who has welcomed me with open arms and loving hearts... introducing "I Heart Murphy" shawl pin. I giggle when I wear it, giggle when I think about his mishaps... and I feel love from the whole Ryan Clan.

One day we will meet over a pint and laugh and cry like we've known each other for years!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Scooch down...

Well, it was time for me annual once over at the doctor's office and contrary to popular thinking... I don't get all veclemped about it. I actually look forward to it. It tells me another year has passed and I'm still alive with no major health issues to chat about with Dr. D. I am always amused when I go to my appointment. This wasn't always so...

I have vague memories of the 'first visit' with a much older male doctor. I never spoke unless he asked me questions. The only woman I could talk about the women issues was my Gram but sadly passed away when I was in my early 20's. Mum... poor dear taught by nuns in a Catholic school... was not helpful. Heaven forbid women understand their own bodies.

Times have changed... or maybe I have. And it took being in the cast in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues to help bring about this change! Who knew a play about a bunch of women's stories from around the world would awaken the senses.

My favourite monologue that I was privileged to perform... The Angry Vagina... well, lets just say no twenty something can do this piece justice. She hasn't been around long enuff but she will learn. Anyways...  it was this bit that got me less stressed over the doctor visits and those mean cold duck lips!!! It didn't happen over night... a chat with the nieces helped. The poor young dears found it hard to say the word 'Vagina"! Boy, did we talk. And I discovered that I was no longer afraid to say vagina let alone the visits.

So the visit this time around included laughter, daring Dr. D to say "scooch down", chatting about my "fluffiness" and the beginnings of "the pause"... oy! And while I was staring up at the ceiling I thought... "I should knit him some stirrup cozies"...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

knead: to mix and blend

Let me begin by saying... I'm just an ordinary gal who wants to do extraordinary things. I have a little time on my side so there is hope... one small step atta time.

I started knitting in the fall of 2006... a few short months after what was the love of my life running off for another. What began as a means of keeping the mind busy and supplement the therapy sessions soon became a passion. In the class I was told I knitted with frenzy... I laughed!!! They were right... my stix were going as fast as my brain. My knitting has calmed down (as well as me brain) but I fear I may begin to yarn shop with frenzy... good thing I only have one credit card and no line of credit!

A few years have passed... new love in my life has helped to mix things up a bit (he's my Knit-Picker), journeys to Ireland (that story is for another time), dear old friends and an amazing knitting family have all blended into a brilliant support system that... if it wasn't already mine... I would envy!!!!!!

So what was my first real knit after an Into to Knitting class at my favourite LYS? Scarf? Dish cloth? Nay... felted slippers... one step towards something extraordinary.