Friday, 30 December 2011

Knitting Year in Review

I completed 42 knitting projects this year. I started several others but these are the ones I completed:

6 shawls and shawlettes,

9 scarves and neckwarmers,

2 pairs of mittens,

some baby items,

7 1/2 pairs of socks,

2 mousies,

2 Christmas stockings,

4 Christmas balls,

some miscellaneous items
and 3 commissions.

Wow! That's a lot of knitting.

Lately, I've been conspiring with Mo to do some more sewing. I've been combing the Internet for ideas and patterns and today Mo and I went to Fabric Land and back to my place to peruse sewing books. I have 2 projects in mind for tomorrow.

Skip and I will celebrate New Year's Eve quietly at home. I borrowed videos from the library that should amuse us.

2011 has been an excellent year for us. We are very fortunate and do not take that for granted. We really try and take advantage of every opportunity we can fit into our budget or schedule. I hope 2012 is as good a year as this year was.

Best wishes to you for a safe, happy, healthy and productive 2012! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Morning

We had a lovely Christmas morning.

I slept in 'til 10am and we had waffles with Saskatoon berries for breakfast.

We lit the tree lights

and turned on the fireplace (channel).
We weren't too upset that we aren't having a white Christmas. This photo was to show the absence of snow.
And the above freezing-ness of the outdoor temperature.
Skip surprised me with a teeny-weeny sound system, the X-mini Mini II - The Original Capsule Speaker (and lots of other cool gifts).

It has a 12 hour rechargeable battery and compresses down to about the size of a clementine when closed.
He also surprised me with a Mac photo book of photos from our cruise. (Can you tell we're techno-geeks?)

Skip liked the wine and iPad keyboard case I gave him (among other things).
He was bummed out that he misplaced the Chapters gift card he had planned to give me. He has such classy sticky notes!
Ollie got into the action by squatting on the tissue paper.
This is Ollie's usual perch - under the grow lights beside the geraniums Skip brought in from the garden for the winter.
Later this afternoon we'll be off to Lorna's for Christmas dinner - turkey - yay!

We are so fortunate to have such good friends and family and (touch wood) our good health.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and fun times with your family and friends for the holiday season.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Another Julekule

Last night I finished one of the knitted Christmas balls with a Selbu design
 and the date.
They're so easy and fun to make. It wouldn't take much effort to make one for every year.
God Jul!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Capybara Scarf Completed

I blocked the scarf the night before last and gave it two nights to dry. You don't really even sew in the ends, just make sure the yarn ends are anchored and then with a needle put the end between the two sides of the scarf.

Here's the black side.

And its identical twin, the red side.
Only the most discerning eye would be able to detect where I grafted the two pieces together after reknitting this capybara.
I was quite impressed how this sock yarn knit up on 3.5mm needles. The fabric of the scarf is nice and drapey and is a warm double thickness. All that scarf and I only used one 50g skein of sock yarn  of each colour.
To recap - once I had completed the two-colour capybara design, to speed things up, I put all the black sts on one circular needle and all the red sts on another then worked stocking stitch on both needles, twisting the two colours around each other each time both yarns were on a side. 

I'd like to knit one of these (with another design, that is) for myself! Maybe a graphic of a ball of yarn and some knitting needles?

Thank you, Alasdair Post-Quinn, for your very cool double-knit pattern.

BTW, this is my 700th post on this blog. 

A Handmade Christmas and the Simple Things

I finished two of the Julekuler (Christmas balls). One yesterday
and one this evening.

These two will be hostess gifts at a party we're attending on Christmas Eve. The white on a red background looks much better than red on a white background. I have designed a couple more myself based on Selbu patterns. Hopefully, I'll be able to whip up one or two tomorrow; perhaps with the year on one of the 4 sides. I can see how one can get quite taken with knitting them. They only take a couple of hours each.

I used to put tons of ornaments on my Christmas tree and many decorations throughout the house. I went through a rather lengthy Peanuts phase (30 years or so) where my tree almost exclusively had Hallmark Peanuts ornaments on it. I sold almost all of the ornaments on eBay in about 1994 and with the cash that was generated, Skip and I had a lovely get-away weekend cross-border shopping. Since then, there has been an evolution to using handmade ornaments almost exclusively.

I have also simplified my decorating. Now one can actually see green areas between the ornaments.

Before I became obsessed with knitting, I was an avid cross-stitcher.

I also did a bit of quilting
and a few years back, I crocheted a whole bunch of snowflake ornaments.
This mini-sock was knit from leftover yarn from the first sock I ever knit.
The old world Santa was a kit stitched on 32 count Aida cloth and the Canada goose stocking dates from 1993. That year I stitched about a dozen of the stocking ornaments.

The candy cane ornament was a Mary Maxim kit.
The clock is from the Leisure Arts "Timeless Ornaments"  book. The sweater is from other scrap yarn.
The green and pink ornament on the left (badly photographed) is a dated one from  Hallmark this year and says "Close-Knit Sisters 2011". I received it from a sorority sister and long-time friend, Lorna. If you want one and wait a bit, you might even be able to buy it on sale as dated ornaments are often deeply discounted after Christmas.
My tree topper is a commercially purchased Hallmark stuffed snowman. The kitty cat angel ornament is from the 1984, my first Christmas with my first cat (named Stanley) when I was an adult. The snowman is one of those tart tin kits. I also stitched quite a few of those festive mitten ornaments one year.
The martini glass is new this year - a gift from a long-time friend and sorority sister, Sue. The black, open-toed, strappy shoe ornament was also from Lorna. To the right of it is a clear globe ornament with our wedding picture in it.
Each year, I put fewer and fewer decorations out. I'm liking the simplicity. And it takes a lot less time to put stuff away after the holidays. It also makes me realize that I'm turning more and more into my mother. Eeeek!

Christmas is a secular event in our home - a time of the year where we take time to visit and celebrate our relationships with various groups of friends and family.  Just sitting, sharing a meal or treats, and chatting (and knitting - tee hee) is such a nice respite from all the rushing around buying gifts. It's a time to reflect on all the wonderful things we enjoy in our lives and to really note how fortunate Skip and I are. I try to take time to be aware of how content I am at this point of my life. Skip and I really try to 'live in the moment' and take as many opportunities for fun that come our way.  We will continue to do so as long as we are physically able. It can all change in an instant so for now our motto is carpe diem - sieze the day.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Home Stretch

I baked some sugar cookies this morning and along with the gingerbread ones I did on the weekend, I'm making up some cookie gift bags. I may even decorate some of the cookies tomorrow.

In knitting news, I finished the Capybara scarf last night and just need to get it blocked.

I made some stitch markers for a knitterly friend who really likes the colour blue. (She really liked them and one of the project bags I had made last week.)

And today I knit an ornament from Julekuler - 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. I did one yesterday with red on the white background but the red showed through too much. I like the look of the white on red much better.
I have one more to complete by Christmas Eve as I'll be giving them as gifts to our hostess for a Swedish Christmas Eve feast that Skip and I are invited to every year.

This evening at my embroidery guild (Trillium) was our pot luck and ornament exchange. There were 9 ornaments up for grabs.
Sorry this one is such a bad shot.

If you look really closely this one is 'faux' Hardanger. It has Kloster blocks but there are no cut threads. It's Patricia Ann Designs "Christmas Heart" from the 2011 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments issue.
And from the same issue, "Christmas Tree 2011" by Rosewood Manor.

And Santa's face is all Hardanger.

This is JBW Designs "French Country V Reindeer".

There were other ornaments on display. These are simple but beautifully finished.
I also like how this piece was framed.
Once I get my Christmas knitting done, I can get back to knitting for myself. Yay!

I'm anxiously awaiting delivery of an ebook I created on my UK knitting tour on Mixbook. It's the most flexible online ebook creator that I've found so far. There are a few features that I really liked: 1. the themed books had colour coordinated 'stickers' that could be added to any page, 2. photos or text could be added to any page, and rotated to any angle. 3. The price is comparable to other photobook programs I've previewed (including the Mac one). 4. The customer support were very accommodating and helpful when I realized I had to change several things on my first submission - even after the final editing deadline.

I just got notification that it has been shipped by UPS so I'm really hoping I'll receive it before Christmas. I saw Marion's today and it is wonderful. I sure hope mine gets delivered on Christmas Eve (fingers crossed).