Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Have I reached SABLE status yet?

Today my friend Kathryn and I went to a yarn shop in Streetsville called The Yarn Tree that's going out of business. The lease had run out and the manager didn't really want to renew it, so she's selling everything off at half price or less! Here's what I got:

This includes:

- 10 balls of Extra 100% Australian merino in a light blue (it will likely become a sweater for my DB to match the scarf I made him from this very wool last year)

- 2 balls of San Mateo Nylon/Tactel MF blend in lovely red and burnt orange tones

- 5 balls of Uxbridge Tweed in gorgeous shades of blue

- 1 ball beige Freedom DK cotton for a secret project

- 3 sets of dpns, two of them in a cool tortoise shell colour

Some of this will go to my Secret Pal Recipient, but I won't say what exactly in case she's reading. I got everything at least 50% off, so it was a real deal! The only things that were really superfluous were the tortoise shell knitting needles, but how often can one find dpns for less than $3?

While we were inside, the heavens opened up and it began to really pour. We carefully wrapped up our new found wealth to protect it from the rain and got soaked through ourselves on the way to the car. The car was full of dog hair from Kathryn's dog. I never knew that the combination of dog hair and wet people could actually produce a wet dog smell, but it does. Learn something new every day.

It really is too bad that the shop is closing down. The woman who runs it is so nice. She even asked us what we were going to make with all we had bought, and seemed genuinely interested in the answers. Oh well, Streetsville is too far away for me to go, anyway.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Button, button, who's got the button?

I bought a bag of assorted buttons at Zellers the other day and had a great time this weekend sorting them. I love sorting things! I love the control it gives me over my environment. When Nyron came over the other day and began to help sort, I started to have a little anxiety attack because suddenly I didn't have that control anymore. I forced myself to calm down. I need to buy another one of those plastic boxes with little compartment - there are still some buttons stacked up on my coffee table that have yet to be allocated homes.

I've finished putting together the first package to send to my Secret Pal Recipient. I'll mail it out to her today. Just in case she actually reads this blog, I won't write a description here, but I'll post pictures after the reveal in August.


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Friday, June 24, 2005

I've been framed!

We picked up Alana's wedding sampler, beautifully framed. It looks great! Nyron picked the frame and the matting and he managed to find a colour that almost perfectly matches the shade of pink I used for the hearts. The frame is a lovely gold gilt frame with flowers carved along it.

When we arrived it was actually hanging on the wall in the back of the room among the framing supplies. As one of the employees was packaging it up in brown paper (just like a proper work of art!) the owner mentioned that a customer who had been in earlier commented on how beautiful it was and was shoked when the owner told her that I'd designed it myself. Hearing that gave me a nice warm glow and a very full ego.

Designing is definitely something I'd love to do for a living. I wish I didn't have to spend so much time looking for a 9-to-5.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"I need just one little thing, a ring. And I don't mean on the phone"

Ok, actually, I need several rings. 1/2" metal rings to be exact. I'd like to make some beaded stitch markers for my Secret Pal Recipient. I was all ready to just twist some metal wire around a pencil, but then I saw all these little metal rings at Lewiscraft that would be perfect...except that the largest rings they carry are about 1/4" diameter and that wouldn't fit much beyond a US size 3 or 4 needle. I'd like them to be a little more widely usable. If anyone knows where to get 1/2" diameter metal rings, please let me know!

I met up with my friend Amy today who I hadn't seen in a long time. She's due to give birth to her first baby a week tomorrow! Wow! This whole pregnancy thing has been really fascinating. I wish I'd been here to see it and not just read about it in her blog, but oh well. Next time. : ) First we went to Courage My Love which is a shop in Kensington Market that sells beads (among lots of other cool things) in the hopes of finding the elusive metal rings. Instead, we found these adorable corn on the cob buttons that I bought for use on a top I'll be knitting for Andy (her baby). I have plenty of time, since I picked Anouk from Knitty. He won't fit into it until he's about 3 - 6 months and it will be able to be modified so that he can wear it for a long time. Amy and Derek took to calling the fetus "Nibblet" as it grew, before they knew the sex and whatnot, so hence the corn theme. I'll be replacing the poesies on the outfit with corn on the cobs as well, the actual kernels I'll do in moss stitch.

I have a few projects that I need to finish first, though. I have half the sleeves and the hood to do yet on a sweater that my friend Chris commissioned me to knit for him. He's already paid me for it, so I have to get it done, I just need to get motivated to finish it. I'm also making lavender sachets for my Secret Pal Recipient that I need to finish so that I can mail it all off. These are the things that allow me to procrastinate from unpacking the house.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Wow, framing is expensive!

While I was in England, I designed and stitched a wedding sampler for my DB's sister who is getting married next weekend. Today, we took it to my local embroidery shop (would that make it my LES? We need to get more embroidery bloggers out here!) to get it professionally framed. I've never had anything framed before; all of my previous pieces always ended up in my parents' closet on the promise of getting it "nicely framed someday". There were all these decisions we had to make, not just the matting and frame, but this other stuff that looks like a miny frame but sits inside the square of the matting and keeps the glass off the embroidery (apparently, the acid in glass erodes thread fibres), and all these extra charges. The whole process took a really long time and it cost quite a bit more than I'd anticipated. But then, this IS a wedding gift, so I suppose it's meant to be a bit dear. Plus, there's no way I could've done the framing myself - not and have it look presentable.

On the bright side, I got some nice lugana which is one of my favourite evenweaves to work with. I also bought a bag of dried lavender at Crabtree and Evelyn yesterday. Together, they shall combine to combat the evil forces of the moths who will stop at nothing to get at my yarn! I plan to make a few extra for a certain someone (*cough*SP5*cough*). I'm still designing what I want to stitch on them. I should get some cotton, too. Looks like a trip to Lewiscraft will be in my near future. : )


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm home!

And I have even more yarn than I remembered! I kept finding boxes of it while I was trying to unpack. If I only had to unpack my suitcases from England it would be OK, but I have to unpack all the boxes I packed before leaving, so this could take a while. Also, I'd really like to start unpacking and organizing my yarn since my DB bought me some wonderful open-front canvas closet organizers that will be perfect for storage. We've got them hanging in a closet in my studio, but my house has a perpetual moth problem and I'm a little worried about leaving the yarn so out in the open without even the protection of lavendar sachets.

One of the worst things about this house is that the floor boards creek a lot and the creeking sounds exactly like Spirit walking around. Sometimes I even think it's her and have to remind myself that it's not. This will be even harder tonight because the DB will be returning to his own place after having spent the last few nights here with me.

My main concern right now is finding a job. Especially after the few hundred dollars I've had to spend on stocking my kitchen with groceries and other household necessities, I'm going to need a consistent stream of income very soon. I've so far typed "knitting"in the keyword search of every online job site I know. Nothing. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow. : )


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hiatus alert!

This will be my last entry for a while. I have no idea when for sure I'll have internet access in Canada. I will try to get it as soon as possible so that I may continue to regale you all with tales of my knitterly deeds.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Adventures in international postage service

When one of the other intenational students in my halls got barred from re-entry after Christmas and I had to send his stuff to him in Texas I used UPS, simply because it was too heavy to take down to the post office and UPS picks up. They did a fine job and I like to reward good service so when I found myself with a backpack full of yarn destined for my home in Toronto, they were the first company I called. This time, however, I was informed that they don't do personal (as opposed to business) service to Canada. They do it to America, but not Canada. Come on! It's not like I'm talking the Yukon, here; it's Toronto! It's below the 49th parallel!

OK, fine. So next I call Fedex. Fedex tells me that they charge by actual weight or dimensional weight whichever is more expensive!!! So for my large backpack they estimated the dimensional weight to be 38kg - not even close to the actual weight - and that it would've cost over 200 pounds! I wonder how in the world they would calculate something as abstract as "dimensional weight".

So on to the fine government services at Royal Mail. I put the backpack on my back (it's thicker than three of me and covers 2/3 of my height) and walked the 15 minutes to the post office. I must've looked quite ridiculous. I probably looked even more ridiculous sitting on top of my backpack desperately trying to get the airline flap to close over the armstraps. It was ultimately a loosing battle. Finally, I arrived at the window and the rather incredulous expression on the face of the postal worker when he realized what I wanted him to mail for me. Since we assumed (rightly) that the address sticker wouldn't stay on the nylon of my backpack, we tried numerous way to encourage it. We ended up rigging up a two-sided address label that we attached to one of the loops with an elastic band and used copious amounts of packing tape to attach the various customs and address labels required. We also put one inside the front pocket in case absolutely everything manages to come off somewhere over the Atlantic. To deal with the errant airline flap, he sat the bag on a swivel chair and attacked it with packing tape like he was securing a hostage. And, of course, this caused much hilarity as the packing tape stuck to everything but my backpack and it took several rounds each time to make it even consider staying put. Eventually, he managed to attract a small crowd of co-workers to watch.

The important thing in all this is that I got my shipment weighed. I am sending home 12.3kg of yarn! *bliss*


Thursday, June 09, 2005

I miss my kitty!

I'm really excited about going home to Canada on Sunday. I'll have my DB waiting for me at the airport, I'll be moving back into the same house I was living in before, complete with my beloved pear tree, I'm really looking forward to setting up a proper studio in the spare room on the main floor, but something will be missing: my cat Spirit.

I'm not sure when I'll get to see her next, but it definitely won't be for another month and a half at the soonest, two and a half at the latest. It all depends on our plans for the summer and whether my parents want to drive for 3 days with a cat - along with a total of 5 people and three dogs - in the car.

My DB always says, "don't feel sad. You'll have me". But he won't be there all the time like Spirit would. Spirit doesn't have to go to work or see her friends. All Spirit does is cuddle up with me and try to eat my yarn. It'll be the first time I've spent any time in that house without her since I adopted her 4 years ago.

But I should look on the bright side: at least I'll have a little time where I can leave house plants on the floor and not have to guard my needles from attack. *sigh*


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

So much yarn, so little suitcase space!

I'm returning to Canada in less than a week and I am now faced with the ultimate challenge: packing. Despite the complete lack of a decent LYS in Leeds, I seem to have managed to amass a large quantity of some very fine yarn. This is largely due to gifts: my friend Kathryn sent me a box of assorted yarn for Christmas and a woman on the UK Handknitter's Yahoo! Forum gave me a huge black garbage bag full. This includes a lot of cotton DK (so I'm fairly well stocked for summer knitting!) and even a dozen balls of luscious Jaeger Merino in a really nice soft grey colour. Enough for a sweater, purhaps? I think it'll have to wait until the fall, knowing how hot it'll likely be when I arrive in Toronto!

Now it's just a matter of getting it all packed! I have to admit, I'm really bad a packing. Surprising for someone who is so good a Tetris! The slowest part right now is just sorting through everything, deciding what gets packed, what gets given away and what gets thrown out/recycled. My halls of residence doesn't have any recycling fascilities, so whenever I have a full bag of paper or glass bottles I have to take it all the way over to the Student Union (well, OK, just around the courner) and put it in the bins there. My DB keeps reassuring me that it will all fit, but I'm not so sure.


Welcome Secret Pal! I hope the little blog mix up has righted itself and everything is on track! Please remember to confirm my mailing address with me before you send anything, so nothing gets lost.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Yay Secret Pal!

I've just been given my very own Secret Pal to spoil! I'm going to hug her and squeeze her and call her George. No, that's not right. Anyway, I've been studying her blog and putting together a list of Must Buys and Must Makes. I already have two things decided on for the first package, but I'll want to pad it out with a few more things before sending it off.

I love having an excuse to shop for knitty-type things! And someone to make things for who will appreciate them on an aesthetic and professional level and not just because I'm their girlfriend/sister/daughter/friend.


Dead and buried

Uusally I would say "Done and dusted", which is a British phrase I've picked up here that I quite like, but my loathing for this stupid neck warmer has grown beyond the use of such a homey expression. However, I can put it all behind me as it is now done! I even sewed up the sides and the loose ends (three cheers of Knitty's Theresa Vinson Stenerson and her technique for sewing in ends). Now that it's finished, lying crumpled and deflated on my desk top, I wonder what so antagonized me about it in the first place. Oh yah, that scratchy yarn. And the unending monotony of garter stitch.

I immediately texted the recipient to inform him it was done, only to receive a text back saying that he'd forgotten all about it and had returned to London for the summer. Figures.

I hope I didn't knit too many bad vibes into it. Aside from becoming really sick with the project really early on, the circumstances under which it was commisioned are less than stellar. It was commisioned to replace a neck warmer that this friend's girlfriend had knitted him and he'd lost. It was her first project. I tried to explain that she'd probably be able to tell the difference but he was adament. I hope I didn't break some knitter's code, "Thou shalt not replace a fellow knitter's piece". *sigh*


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ever have to knit something that you just didn't want to?

I'm currently knitting a neck warmer for a friend. He's paying me for my efforts, so I really shouldn't complain, but it's taking me so long simply because I don't want to do it! The nasty acrylic yarn is so rough I can barely stand to touch it! I'm definitely giving the remaining yarn away when it's finished. Luckily, there is a deadline; the deadline being ASAP. I'm leaving for home in a week and I have to give it to him before I go. *sigh*

On a brighter note, I've been crocheting the cover project from the May issue of Knitting Magazine. It's a mint green cotton fishnet tank top. I did most of it on various trains around Europe on my recent 4countries in 16 days tour - a graduation gift from my parents. It was a perfect project to do on vacation because it's only done it two pieces and small enough to fit in the little reusable drawstring bag I got from an order I made from Brit Knit Kits . I finished the front and am now almost done the back. This will be my very first completed crocheted garment (well, garment larger than a preemie sweater, anyway).

Unfortunately I won't be able to work on it much today. I really, REALLY have to start packing. Really. I haven't even dragged the suitcases out from under my bed yet. My main concern is getting all my yarn packed. A huge bag of yarn was graciously donated to me by a woman on the UK Handknitter's forum and I haven't even made a dent in it! I'm really looking forward to properly organizing my stash when I get home.

I also have to get working on a wedding sampler I've been making for my boyfriend's sister who is getting married in a few weeks (yikes!). I have everything done, except for the corners. In my originaly design I had shisha mirrors there, but thanks to a mix up when I ordered them that caused me to be sent the wrong size, combined with the fact that I've never embroidered shisha mirrors before and they've proven more difficult than I anticipated, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to put there. I think I'll give the mirrors one last try and if I still can't get it right I'll supstitute it with a blackwork design. Either way, it has to be done before I go home so we have time to get it framed before the wedding.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Another post just for my Secret Pal

Don't you feel special? This is another post just for you! It's the questionaire. So here we go!

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?
I'm not really a snob, but I definitely appreciate fine quality yarns. While I don't shun Lion or Bernat or any of those, the yarn has so be soft enough for me to want to have it running through my fingers for a few hours at a time. Even some high-priced yarns don't fit that requirement.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
I do crochet, but I don't spin. Spinning is something I may like to learn, but it feels like something I'd only want to do if I was also producing the fibre myself (so I guess I'll have to wait until I have that sheep farm. ^_^). I'm a fairly beginner crocheter, though, but I'm quickly coming to appreciate it.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)
I don't have allergies, but I definitely don't appreciate yarn that smells of cigarette smoke.

4. How long have you been knitting?
I've been knitting on the regular for about 4 years.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes, on (keeping the Canadian pride!). Since I'm starting to get into crochet, any crochet books would be great, too. I don't really know any specific titles, so I'll leave it up to you. As for knitting books, I mainly like ones with more technique than patterns; I'm more interested in doing my own designing and increasing my talents and knowledge in that area. I also like writing about knitting and am interested in trying out some of the examples of knitting fiction that are being published recently.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
I love cinnamon. I also really like ocean scents, or white musk. Most importantly it can't be really strong and fruity, I prefer soft, subtle scents. Lavendar is also appreciated since it does double duty: it's calming and it keeps moths away.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?
I do indeed! : ) I like licorice all-sorts, Fuzzy Peaches and really good chocolate (especially cheeries in dark chocolate).

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I love anything DIY. I especially like making new things out of old materials/things that would otherwise be thrown away. As for crafts, I've been doing embroidery at various levels of obsessiveness since I was 5. I mainly do cross stitch, but I'm getting interested in learning other styles as well. I prefer to buy paterns and materials seperately (as opposed to in kits) because I don't like the look of Aida cloth.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
This is a hard question to answer. I'm currently getting an education in music from my boyfriend who is a bit of a music snob and so my already eclectic tastes are changing. I think you'd have a hard time finding a genre that I don't like at least a selection from. If you want to make me a CD, make it a CD of music that you think is really good and more people should know about.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love earth tones and blues. My favroutie colour is the deepest, richest forest green I can find, but I also really like browns, blues and earthy reds like burgandy and maroon. I'm developing an appreciation of lavenders and purples as well. I don't like florescent colours or bright reds or oranges.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I have a boyfriend who I love very much and plan to marry in the not-so-distant future. I also have a 7 year old American Short tale cat named Spirit who I adopted 3 years ago from a local shelter. Here's her website:

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)
I want to be able to work from home, preferably as a writer. I'd also like to live as self-suficiantly as possible (grow my own vegetables, make and re-use what I need). I want to marry my boyfriend and (eventually) have kids. I want to live a life-style that lets me do volunteer work and travel the world (maybe even at the same time).

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
I like knitting with anything soft, especially cotton and soft merino. I haven't been able to explore different yarns as much as I'd like. I'm an environmentalist, so I appreciate things made organically/recycled.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Anything scratchy or dificult to work with. I'm also not a big fan of novelty yarns.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
I rather like knitting in the round because it seems more effecient to me (although I love the process of knitting, I'm not as keen on making up). I'm rather fixated with the idea of learning to knit socks, although I haven't actually suceeded in making a pair yet. I love learning new techniques (and I'm hardly an expert so a lot of techniques are new to me).

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I like knitting home decor things and anything unique or that looks like it will be a challenge.

17. What are you knitting right now?
A neck warmer in a horribly scratchy acrylic as a favour for a friend (he picked the yarn) and a crocheted tank top for me (yay summer!).

18. What do you think about ponchos?
Just plain not a fan.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
I'm gaining an appreciation of circular needles and would like to add to my collection as I only have a few.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Bamboo or aluminum, but definitely not plastic unless I'm going on a plane.

21. Are you a sock knitter?
I'm a wannabe sock knitter.

22. How did you learn to knit?
My grandmother taught me when I was 7. Then she taught me again for a single project when I was 16. Then I taught myself when I was 20 and this time it stuck!

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
Less than a year. It's a light green cotton short sleaved top from Vintage Knits that I started knitting last summer and put down when I moved to England.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
I love the Powerpuff Girls, largely because I was a Sailor Moon geek in junior high and they are a parody of that show. I also really like retro characters from my childhood like Underdog. My favourite animal is definitely a dolphin (I have seen wild dolphins and I have a dolphin tattoo) and I'm one of those seemingly rare people who are both a cat and a dog person.

25. What is your favorite holiday?
I adore Christmas! Christmas was alsway the biggest holiday in my family growing up and I make a big deal of it by decorating and baking.

26. Is there anything that you collect?
People joke that I collect collections because I have so many and I'm always adding more. My favourite collection is kitschy salt and pepper shakers.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I don't have any subscriptions because I've been living abroad, but my favourite knitting magazine is Interweave Knits.

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on?
Other than the next Harry Potter? : ) Not really. I have too many unread books already to think about buying more (although that never seems to stop me).