Friday, December 29, 2017

What Shape Are Yoda's Ears?

"Do or do not, there is no try" - Yoda, "The Empire Strikes Back"

It is COLD, incredibly cold, as cold as it ever gets here. Today the HIGH was -19C.

So, I knit my grandson a helmet style hat, to keep his head warm. I consulted my favourite knitting style experts, my library Kids Can Knit friends. They all agreed that Yoda was perfect for a one year old. 

The pattern is from the book Monster Knits For Little Monsters, and the pattern is called Alien Elf. I got the pieces knit fairly quickly.

I love that the hat is knit without seams. When you are done, you are done, except for the ears. I spent three days trying to decide what Yoda's ears looked like.

This is the way the pattern suggested. That wasn't what I wanted.

Closer, but still not it.

Maybe more sideways? Nope.

I did an image search on line to see the shape of Yoda's ears, leaving no stone unturned. Then I had a eureka moment. It wasn't life changing but I started looking in another direction. I turned the ear sideways, putting the cast on edge at the top.

Okay, that looks more like the pictures of Yoda.

Next step was to make the second one a mirror of the first.

Then attach the ears, smoothly so my little boy won't feel them on the inside.

Bear volunteered to model, again. He loves to model baby things.

What can I say, I saw the first Star Wars movie when I was in university. In my opinion, it is still the best. 

I am rather pleased with the cast off. I used an invisible rib cast off. I had to watch a YouTube video to figure it out, but it makes a really nice finish.

The yarn is Zara Plus Solid by Filitura Di Crosa, an aran weight superwash merino. It is lovely and soft. I used 3.25 mm needles to get a nice tight knit, to keep the wind out. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

A cat friendly tree. Every day I get to decorate it again.

I bought this as a loose bulb in early December. It looks so cheery.

Christmas snow. Click on the picture and you can see the big flakes, just like in the movies.

I hope that you and yours are having a happy and safe celebration, and that all your surprises are happy ones!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

New Needles

I am not a "Social Media Influencer", in that I have a small number of blog followers and and even smaller number of Twitter followers. So, if I want to try new things, I buy them and you get my true impression.

Lately, I have seen these fancy new needles on several well known knitters web sites, and the engineer in me had to try them. The principle sounded good.

They are called Flexiflips and they are by Addi.  The idea is that you have three short circular type needles and use them for socks or mittens, instead of 4 or 5 double points.

Unlike the short circulars sold for sock knitting, the tips are 3.5" long, instead of short tips. This means you can hold the tip in your whole hand. I have tried the circular sock needles and find them uncomfortable to use.

You use three needles, one for the front of your work, and one for the back. The third needle becomes the working needle. Since the needles bend in the middle, it is easy to manipulate the stitches in a round.

The needles have the two different points that Addi has for their needles.

There is a short point,

And a longer narrower point (or in my world, a pointier point).

So far, I think they are okay needles, I don't find them any faster to use then my DPN's. I actually think that ribbing is slower, but maybe that is because I am knitting a man's mitten and there is 4 inches of ribbing. I am not sure how well they will work for the thumb, although I expect it is no worse then 8" DPN's.

I can see using one as a cable needle. Since I knit Continental style, a straight cable needle is awkward, when the cable stitches are left to the back of the work. The bend in the middle would get the needle out of the way.

I have knit with two circular needles to make socks and I have the problem that I lose track of which needle is which, ending up with one needle on the floor when I forget to switch. These are definitely superior to that. If you are working a patterned instep on a sock, these would work well for keeping the pattern stitches together. However, for my everyday ordinary vanilla socks, I think I will continue with my DPN's. They take up less space in my project bag, and a set of 5 (or 6) is half the price of a set of Flexiflips. My sock needles are also a handy measuring guide for knitting socks, since I use 6" needles, which is an excellent length for the leg of a sock.

In all, I don't think that they are any easier or harder to use then Double Points. They are easier, for me, than two long circulars and leave less for the kittens to play with.  If you like to try new things, and you are having problems using DPN's, you might want to give these a try.

Now for today's cuteness:

It's good to snuggle with a friend on a cold rainy day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When Life Gets In The Way

I realize now that I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks. However, dear ones, both two and four-legged, conspired to get in my way. I am here, now.

I really didn't intend to buy anything on black Friday. Then I got the newsletter from my favourite yarn shop. It wasn't a Black Friday sale, just their usual end of the month clearance. They had Cascade superwash wool for half price. What was I to do?

The Cascade is here, along with some other skeins I had that were in need of winding into balls. I did 12 skeins in rapid succession, and I don't recommend that. My arm was sore until today, from turning the ball winder. However, I have plans for lots of warm presents from this cache. It is a commentary on how dull winter is around here, when you look at all the colours I chose. My family and friends will be bright.

My 1001 Nights shawl is beginning to feel like I have been knitting on it for 1001 nights. Actually only 3 months, but it never ends.

The rows now take forever to knit. I have 11 more rows to go, so I know I can make it, but I have been picking it up lately and thinking "You, again?"

In other UFOs, I pulled one, this afternoon, that needs quilting.

Laurel Burch Bountiful Gifts from I've forgotten when. I did a lovely job of mitering the border. It has been in the pile so long that the next step will have to be a good pressing. I found some fabric for a backing. It isn't in keeping with the front side, but if I wait to get the perfect backing, it will continue to be a UFO. I am sure I have a binding that works.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bendy Bag

Awhile ago, Craftsy offered a free viewing day, where you could watch all the classes you wanted, for free. I watched Joan Hawley's "Zip It Up" and really enjoyed it. So when Craftsy offered me a deal on the class, last week, I bought it, so I could watch it again, and get the patterns.

I was doing some tidying after retreat, and decided to reward myself, by playing. I grabbed two fat quarters from my stash, a zipper, and some scraps of fusible fleece, and made a Bendy Bag.

I used another of my Laurel Burch fat quarters. I am not out yet! This one is from Secret Jungle.

The bag uses the piece of zipper you cut off, to make a tab on the back. Not sure how useful that is.

It has a nice bright yellow lining. If I make it again, I will do the ends of the zipper like I do my usual zipper pouches.

It isn't very big, not large enough for a knitting project bag, but it might be handy for my chargers, when I go to retreat (and maybe the camera, so I know where it is.)

I was inspired to sort my zippers. I had them all in one large drawer, but I was spending a lot of time having to measure a zipper, when I pulled it out to make sure it was the right size.

A friend gave me this drawer unit that she wasn't using, so now I have six shallow drawers of zippers. It makes things much easier. Thanks, Michelle.

For the kitten fans...

Count the ears, and divide by 2 and you get 4!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Retreat Bags @ Retreat

My friend Maggie of The Cheerful Chickadee was at retreat with me, and together we made Emmaline Bags' Retreat Bag.

We added straps and a zippered pocket to the inside.

Mine looks like this.

The inside looks like this.

I mislaid my camera at retreat (it was in the bottom of my suitcase with my clothes, up in my room) so I didn't get a picture of Maggie's bag, but she sent me one yesterday.

This is her interior.

The pictures tell a bit of a story about who we are as quilters.

I also made new tablet cases for the new tablets at our house.

Laurel Burch Elephants and Tula Pink Turtles, both fat quarters, from my stash. Someone at the retreat asked what pattern I use. I actually take rough measurements, layer batting between a piece of flannel and a piece of pretty fabric, quilt the sandwich, cut it to size by wrapping it around the tablet, zigzag the edges together to form a pocket and add binding to make it pretty.  No patter, just a tape measure. They close with velcro, added just before the binding. The elephants is for my husband and the button says Handmade with Love.

Of course, if you put a quilt down, a cat will lay on it, no matter how small.

Ti-Gars left us yesterday and was adopted into his forever home. We are so happy for him!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New Brunswick Finished

I started my New Brunswick wall hanging in July and I am finally finished. It is on its way to its owner in, as you might guess, New Brunswick.

Binding on and complete.

I put the binding and the hanger on at retreat. Thanks to Diane for helping me figure out the hanger.

It is a cold and damp day, again today, so a little smile to end the blog.

The Paw Patrol is keeping us safe from marauding squirrels.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Packing for Retreat

Yes, it is retreat time again. A weekend of sewing, with my friends, with lots of laughs. The best part is that if someone gets stuck, there are lots of people to help them figure it out.

I have been collecting supplies for the trip. I will be making a couple of bags, so I needed hardware and zippers.

A few years ago, when I first started to make bags in earnest, I looked for a source of zippers. I wanted to buy them in bulk, because $3.50 per zipper was getting a little steep, given how many I use. In addition, they closed the Fabricland near me and the nearest is a 20 minute drive, not on any of my usual routes.  I discover that a company called Zipper Stop sells in Canada, through If you are a Canadian, you know what a hassle getting goods across the border can be, so I normally shop in Canada. However, the prices were in Canadian dollars and customs and duty were included in the price.

I was pleasantly surprised by the service and quality of my zippers , so I have been ordering my bulk zippers from Zipper Stop ever since. I was afraid that my latest batch were not going to make it in time, since they had gotten lost within the shipping system. I went to the mailbox this afternoon and found my parcel of zippers.

These are bright, fun colours, and a box of zipper pulls, so I can change the pulls. The price was about $1/ zipper, shipping included. I have enough to make lots of presents.

I also finished the quilting on my New Brunswick quilt.

I will trim it and take the binding fabric to put on at retreat. Some hand sewing is always good for a break from the machine.

Like the ambulances on the back?

Now I need to cut some fabric, trim the wall hanging, wind some bobbins, and finish packing. I leave bright and early tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Thanks, Purolater

I did some on line shopping, the end of last week, and according to the tracking, my parcel was to arrive yesterday, via Purolater. So, I arranged my schedule, to wait at home for the parcel to arrive. At about 1:30 PM, I saw the Purolater truck slow down, then speed away, down the street.

I live in a suburban neighbourhood, with lovely big trees, and garages attached to each house. The original neighbourhood covenants required home owners to park in their garages. Since the houses were built when cars were larger, the garage is quite roomy. So our cars spend their downtime, cozy and dry, in the garage. In the cooler weather, it is not possible to tell if someone is home, without going to the door and ringing the bell.

Lately, we have been having the problem that delivery people assume there is no one home, because there is no car in the drive. Five times now, I have had to call and complain because a parcel has been returned to the depot of a delivery service, listed as no answer, when I have seen the truck go by. I am not saying this is what happened yesterday. When I complained about the truck not stopping, I was told, that sadly, they had put my order on the wrong truck. I find this hard to believe, since the parcels are all bar coded, however, I am stuck waiting for this turkey delivery person again today.

On the upside, I made good progress quilting my New Brunswick wall hanging, while waiting for the delivery. Since New Brunswick is an Atlantic province, I am quilting the blue with kind of random wavy lines, to make it look like water.

I think it looks pretty good. About two more sessions should get it finished.

My 1001 Nights shawl is progressing slowly. I am now at the section where it takes about 120 beads per row. Since they must be added one at a time, it takes over an hour to get across the row,

However, the end is near! Just 26 rows to go!

I was tidying some stuff and found a table runner I made a few years ago. Since I seldom use table runners, I hung it in my kitchen.

I am using a snack clip as a quilt hanger. I might want to think about finding a better hanger.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MosaiCanada Part 2

As I said, I have lots of pictures, so here are a few more.

Chinese artists came to work on the project. This is their first piece, the dragon dance. On the left, the border plantings are Swiss Chard.

The Lions were represented, too.

In the centre, you get a sense of how big these sculptures are. There is a man in a bucket, with a hose, watering the arch.

A tribute to Glen Gould, a Canadian classical pianist. The piano was playing a recording by Glen Gould.

Maintenance of the works was an on-going task. Here is a gardener, trimming a buffalo, as the buffalo watches. 

The centre-piece of the whole show was Mother Earth.

I couldn't get her into a single picture. Her hand is raised and water is running off it. I love how the different plants give texture to the piece.

The walk ends with a different kind of piece, horses made from driftwood.

The display was truly wonderful, well worth the discomfort of the 31C weather. It closes this week, as the park is returned to its usual state, ready for ice castles and slides in February. We hope that they will come back another year.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Preaching Stole and a Shawl

Back when I first started my blog, I organized and helped sew 22 preaching stoles, for a national church event. You can read more here.

I have acquired a bit of a reputation, with those stoles, so recently I was asked to make another. This one is for a Lay Preacher, who also needed a place to put the transmitter for her microphone, since women's dress clothes seldom have pockets. She asked me if I could have the children of the congregation, help.

We actually ended up with two stoles. One is now finished and was presented last Sunday, while the other will need a bit more work.

The fabric was supplied to me, and my helpers did some hand stitching, with embroidery floss, around the motifs.

The back side, where you can see the pocket for the transmitter and the label from the makers. Some of the makers will not be confined to a box on fabric, so the label is also a pocket, with names on the inside, as well.

Needless to say, the recipient loves it.

A few weeks ago, I showed you my 1001 Nights shawl. I am slowly making progress, although it might be 101 nights before it is done. This week, the designer's photo assignment is to take a picture of the shawl relaxing, while not being knit.

The weather here is breaking heat records for September, so my shawl is relaxing in the air conditioning with a large glass of ice tea.

I spread it out for a better view.

The upside of the weather, is that the flowers are at their best right now.

My Rose Mallow, with flowers the size of plates!