Saturday, March 31, 2012

A "Crochet Clean Up"

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I were sitting at my kitchen table and discussing what bad habits we possess that might really bother the other guy, should we ever decide to cohabitate. As kind and loving as my guy is, he finally came to admit that should that day come, something would have to be done with my yarn. He has promised an entire room dedicated exclusively to my yarn collection if we get a place someday (and that won't even begin to house it all...), but he would really rather that I not leave it 'decoratively' displayed in each and every corner of my house.

From what I've been told, successful relationships demand much compromise. (Am I right all you happily coupled people out there???) So if I can have a room for my yarn, he can have a wall for his motorcycle pictures. Sound like a deal?

Before agreeing to this motorcycle wall however, I of course did my best to argue that my house is not in fact littered with yarn in every corner... but he got me. He pointed at a bag of yarn that was sitting (beautifully) on the floor (remember, we're in the kitchen now) and said 'Lynn, how long has that bag of yarn been sitting in that spot???'


I had to fess up. He knew the truth- and the truth is... the yarn had been there since August.

It's March now.

He had a point.
It was time to clean up that yarn.


So I did.

Well... I sort of did.
Monday evening I started hooking away and by Wednesday night, I had a baby blanket.
Was I ever pleased as punch when I was able to show off my freshly crocheted baby blanket to him on Thursday evening over dinner.

I am absolutely as shocked as you are that I managed to plough through this thing as quickly as I did. I go to work each day, I shower, I eat properly... So how did I do it?

The truth of the matter is, I had very little to do with it. Crochet is just one heckuva speed demon! Especially when you knit as much as I do. To have knit a baby blanket in that amount of time would never have happened in my knitting world (I'm not known for my speed-knitting skills).

The colours were addictive and the stitch pattern rhythmic.

I couldn't put it down.

So much so in fact, that I immediately began to feel withdrawl symptoms as soon as I had sewn in that last end. It was as though this project had moved too quickly, and I wasn't ready to let it go just yet.

The solution to this problem?


Start another one.

So, I did.

Fast, Fun Facts

Pattern- Vintage Crocheted Blanket by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Yarn- Diamond Luxury Collection Superwash Merino Aran
10 colours, 11 balls (one ball of each, plus two for the main colour)- we have kits at the shop
Hook- 5mm (I believe that the pattern called for a 4mm, but I went for a 5mm anyway- I'm bad like that, you know?)

So now that I have proven that the yarn in every corner does in fact serve a purpose...

Do you think I can talk him out of that 'motorcycle wall'?

I think I might just have to cross that bridge when I get to it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baby Sweater Boot Camp

Every Monday evening, I go to a boot camp at my gym. I consider boot camp to be like a sampling of all things fitness. Jump squats, bicep curls, push ups, crunches... You leave having had a small taste of every exercise you ever needed to know in order to get fit- or for some of you, stay fit!

Mondays are also the day that I get through the bulk of my knitting for the week. The shop is closed that day, and while the rest of the world is at work, I have the chance to get through my errands, clean up my messy house and knit until my needles wear out, all while being uninterrupted.

This Monday, my knitting time included this little baby sweater that I cast on last week (the tiger stripe colours were calling my name and I just couldn't ignore them for a second longer!). By Monday morning, I was all ready to piece this little project together.

As I was sitting at my kitchen table sewing in ends, matching up stripes, picking up stitches, setting in sleeves and sewing on buttons, it occurred to me how similar boot camp is to putting together this little sweater.

Both act as a really good 'refresher'. In the case of boot camp of course, a refresher in all things fitness, and in the baby sweater's case- all things 'finishing'.

I needed both boot camp, and that baby sweater on Monday. I hadn't been to the gym in a while, and I hadn't finished a sweater in a while (Vonica is knit in one piece, so it hardly counts). Both activities served as the nice big 'kick in the pants' I needed, reminding me that there is always room for improvement. If you get lazy and don't do either one for some time, both can be pretty painful when you decide to get back to them (as my quads reminded me when I tried to leap out of bed yesterday morning).

Interesting Facts About this Baby Sweater

Yarn- Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (I had never knit much more than baby booties out of this stuff- what the heck is my problem!?!??! If you knit with this, you'd be through a baby sweater in less than a week too! So beautiful!)
2 balls each in shades 52 and 58
Needles- 3.25mm and 3.5mm (I went up a size for my needles since I'm one of the world's tightest knitters)
Pattern- Baby Striped Cardigan by Debbie Bliss, found in Baby Cashmerino Book 2
Size- 6-9 months

Now, I must confess to you that as hard as I push myself in boot camp each week, I always cut corners just a little bit. When the instructor isn't looking I often lie flat on my back rather than do every single last crunch that is being asked of me. The thing is though... she always notices (damned mirrored walls!)- and I end up paying for it.

In my 'baby sweater boot camp' on Monday... I admittedly might have done much the same.

I cut a corner and I skipped the blocking... (see the how those armholes are puffing up like some kind of proud bird???)

And you noticed...

Didn't you?

Daffodils in bloom at Mary's Yarns
I just can't seem to get away with anything anymore.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vonica The Valentine

Valentine's Day is my absolute #1 favorite holiday of the year. The red, the pink, the sugar- it's simply... the best. It has always been observed in my household with an excess of cinnamon hearts, cards and chocolate and wearing the colour red or pink (preferably both) is an absolute must. By the time mid-February rolls around, everyone could use a little 'lift' anyway, so we've always been sure to go 'all out'. (We're not skiiers, so what the heck else would be be doing mid-February!?!?!?)

This most recent Valentine's Day was an especially meaningful one for me however.

On February 14th, 1997, my Grandpa died. He suffered a stroke while out shopping for Valentine's goodies for all of us. I was 14 years old, and this Valentines' Day, I was 28. He always loved the holiday and it seemed somehow fitting that February 14th be the day he bid his final farewell.

This particular Valentine's Day marked the day that I have walked this earth with him, for just as long as I have walked without him- in the physical sense of course.
And so in true knitterly fashion, I felt that this called for a sweater.

My Grandpa was a maker of many things beautiful, and always encouraged my mom and her passion for knitting (which she has kindly passed down to me).

We often talk about what a shame it is that he never got a chance to see the shop. If he was still around, I can promise all of you regular customers that you would know him well. He would have made Mary's Yarns one of his regular hang outs- I'm sure of it.

He probably would have even fixed some of your shoe racks, repaired the broken wheel on your computer chair or built you a new coffee table. He was just that kind of person- always looking for a new project.

Sound familiar?

While I didn't choose this sweater because I thought that he would particularly love the pattern or the style... the colour however, was intentional.

It's red.
For Valentine's.

And every time I wear it, I will think of him.

Do I love the pattern and the style however?

Awwwww yeeeeeeah I do!

LOVE it.

I loved making it, and I love the final product.



I love it so much that my weird neck-muscle-things are popping out.

I'd say that this calls for a massive bowl of cinnamon hearts.

Wouldn't you?

Lord help me...
Dirty details?
I've got 'em.

Pattern- 'Vonica' by Bonne Marie Burns over at Chic Knits (You've done it again Bonne Marie... you've done it again...)

Yarn- 5 skeins of Berroco's Ultra Alpaca (you heard me... FIVE! And I have enough left over to make a hat- for sure!) in shade 6281 'Redwood Mix'

Needles- 4.5mm 60cm circular
4.5mm 80cm circular
4.5mm double pointed

So while I know that the Valentine's Day ship has sailed this year, I like to think of my tardiness as yet one more nod to my dear Grandpa.

He was a man who worked by his clock.

And if I want to celebrate Valentine's Day at the end of March...

I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Sparkly Alpacas In The Wild"

All of a sudden...

I want to watch every movie that this girl has ever made.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Is A Fickle Month

We've been spoiled the past few days with gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures in the Toronto area (there are some crocus bulbs that have popped at the shop!)

This morning however we have woken up to what is to be expected in March... grey skies and drizzle.

So here you are dear knitters.

Cascade 220 shelf at the shop

A little something to brighten your day.

Thanks heavens for yarn.

(ETA- it's 10 am and the sun is now shining bright. Yes indeed, March is a fickle month.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oooooooh, Mexico

At the risk of sounding like a total jerk, I have to tell you guys something.

Last night, I came home from a week in Mexico.

I hesitate to share this with you at all for a couple of reasons, but mainly because at this point in the winter, those that haven't been somewhere warm want to thwack those that have across the side of the head. (I know it's been a tolerable winter, but I know I sure wasn't sunning myself on Cherry Beach at any point over the past few months. Were you?)

In the interest of keeping things cool between us, I thought I'd spare you the details (which I will, because it won't make matters any better), but I do have a little something to share with you, all of my knitting buddies.

And it has to do with my knitting needles...

That were taken from me...

At the airport...

This happened to me once before in 2008 at Toronto's Pearson Airport as I was getting ready to head off to Sweden. Admittedly, I had an obscene number of knitting needles in my carry-on because... that's kind of a long flight. What a perfect opportunity to knit non-stop for a good 8 hours! (Aren't knitters some of the only people who actually look forward to a long flight!?!?!?)

The security guard saw my tangle of needles on his special little luggage x-ray machine and started to dig through my bag. After confiscating three pairs of Addi Turbos, my Mom had to hold me back from smacking the smirk right off that gross slime ball right then and there.

But wait! When the jerk in the uniform (who was just doing his job) asked me if I had any more, I managed to grunt through my gritted teeth 'No. You've cleaned me out'.

Little did he know... I had four more sets.

Hallelujah for that!

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon as I was wandering through Cancun security in my semi-sun burned, relaxed-as-Jell-o kind of state.

I watched as my bag was pulled aside, opened up and rummaged through.

My 4.5mm Addi Turbo Lace needles were yanked from my project and chucked into a bin full of other 'naughty-no-fly' goods (and this time, they were my only pair).

The difference this time however?

I just shrugged and told the security staff to have a 'really wonderful day'.

Amazing what a little R&R can do.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

By Golly, It's Garter Stitch!

A pretty special baby will be joining us here on earth in early June. My man-friend is becoming an Uncle and so long as 'Ms. Sweater Curse' doesn't have her way with us, I'll be some sort of Aunt... sort of??? Kind of??? Who knows how that works...

Since the moment the news broke, I have had 'baby on the brain' when it comes to my knitting. (This of course, is different than 'baby brain').

The past two weeks at the shop have seen more than a dozen big boxes full of new Spring yarn roll in the door. Thanks to this baby news, I haven't had any delusional ideas that leave me thinking I can whip up sixteen new Spring/Summer tops for myself (which is what happens to me when seasons change and loads of new yarn show up at my door). Instead... baby it is. Baby... I can do- right?

So, baby, I did.

I did some adorable, pure and simple baby garter stitch.

In an adorable little kimono style jacket.

With some sweet little co-ordinating baby sea shell buttons to keep that baby all wrapped up tight.

Pattern- Easy Peasy Baby Jacket in Two Gauges by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Yarn- Cascade Luna Paints in shade 9831, 3 skeins (I have more than enough left over to make a little hat with go with)
Needles- 5mm
Size- 12-18 months (the pattern also has the option to make a 6-12 month size. I was just feeling ambitious when I cast on)

I don't even know if I will actually even give this little jacket to the mystery babe. I just want to knit 'baby' these days. So for now, you could say that this little person is my knitting muse.

Thanks baby.

I promise to keep you a very well dressed (and warm!) little person.