Thursday, December 27, 2007

Slowing Down to Enjoy the Holidays

Now that Santa has made his visit, and we've all caught up on some sleep, we've been able to slow down a bit and enjoy the holidays together. Here, the boys are learning the art of rod hockey or table hockey, a gift from their great aunt and uncle.

I even managed to complete some last-minute Maine Morning Mitts, an easy, relaxing pattern from Clara Parkes' new book, The Knitter's Book of Yarn, for my sister who really liked the Noro Kureyon colorway (90) that I chose. I'm sorry the photo isn't the best and doesn't accurately show all the colours of the yarn, but it's a very versatile colour if you wear a lot of darker colours. I've even made a felted earflap hat for my husband in the same yarn. And he wears it too!

Anyhow, I hope everyone is enjoying a restful, happy holiday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Much Needed Comic Relief

Me: Drink your milk R.
R: Yes sir!


R: (in the car) I'm hungry!
Me: We'll be home soon. I'll make you something to eat when we get home.
R: I want to talk to my lawyer!

When the pressure is on to get presents bought, the house clean for a Christmas tree that's been sitting outside for days, and to eliminate thoughts that you behaved, or rather misbehaved at the "office" party, it's good to know that your little boys are always there to provide you with lots of comic relief. R, our three-year old, has been making us all laugh lately with his spontaneous lines picked up from movies that he's watched. I believe R's "Yes sirs" have come from Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story and the "I want to talk to my lawyer!" is a line from Ratatouille, a movie I haven't even seen yet!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Our First Advent Calendar

It's the official start to our holiday season now that we've put up the advent calendar. I have a store-bought one that I've never used somewhere in my Christmas decoration boxes, but I thought it would be much more fun to make one after reading this whip up post. I liked the ideas of incorporating a family activity each day and of teaching my two little guys how many "sleeps" there are until Christmas.

Our first activity was to learn how to cut paper snowflakes for our window, seeing as we woke up to this in the morning, and it is still snowing as I write.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Children's Christmas Fair

This past Saturday morning, we braved the chilly weather, like we did last year, to attend the Vancouver Waldorf School's Christmas Fair. A most memorable activity at this wonderful fair from last year was visiting the "Cookie House" to select a decorated gingerbread cookie from amongst many all hung on curtains from ceiling to floor in a small, narrow, dimly-lit, ambient space. We waited in line to experience the wonderful Cookie House again this year, complete with an elf to guard the house, as well as a fairy, to assist with the cookie selection. As you can see, R knew his immediate plans for his cookie upon leaving the "house".

There were many beautiful wreaths and table centerpieces being created all around us.....
...and new experiences to be had.... candle dipping!!!

in another dimly-lit, but magical room decorated with winter scenes, lots of stars and tiny lights...

...and warm, nurturing teachers that made all the activities at this fair so meaningful. D really got into making and dipping his own candle, deciding on his own how many more times he wanted to walk around the table to dip his candle into the wax pots.

Other cool activities included puppet plays, silk painting, visiting a winter wonderland and woodland pond, woodworking, and a variety of musical offerings around the school. And what's a Christmas fair without a "Marketplace", which was so crowded that I barely looked for fear of losing the boys. I did, however, pick up my felt order from Natalie of Bear Dance Crafts who came down for the fair from Kaslo. She offers good quality wool felt in lots of great colours for those of you who are interested.

Here is D's beautifully fragrant candle finished and wrapped with paper tissue and a lovely poem. The poem should read as below, but with the last line, perhaps, intentionally and appropriately left out:

A candle is but a simple thing,
It starts with just a bit of string,
But dipped and dipped with patient hand,
It gathers wax upon the strand,
Until complete and snowy white,
It gives at last a lovely sight.

Life seems so like that bit of string,
Each deed we do a simple thing,
Yet day by day if on life's strand,
We work with patient heart and hand,
It gathers joy makes dark days bright,
And gives at last a lovely light.

How we love this fair for its wonderful, meaningful experiences that appeal to all our senses and the child within us!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Show and Tell: Fish Hat

I thought my post today would focus on a favourite and much used FO (finished object) from the past four years. When I took a renewed interest in knitting after D, my first son, was born, I also got hooked on eBay in a very bad way. Not only was I nursing in front of the computer, I got into bidding wars for things I really didn't need or have a vision for at the time-- other than just winning the auction, of course. I didn't go overboard on a regular basis, but when I did, I'd be scratching my head afterwards, wondering what I had gotten myself into. So, what does this all have to do with the Fish Hat, as modelled by R above? Well, all the cotton yarn (with the exception of the lime-coloured yarn) used to make Zoe Mellor's Fish Hat, (from her book Animal Knits) came from such an ebay auction. It was a fairly big lot of new, still-in-ball bands cotton yarn (20+ balls) that I had won, all discontinued machine-washable Bernat Cot'n Soft yarn in a variety of colors, but I think it cost me about $75 Canadian total after the Canada Post guy collected $20 more for some duties upon delivery. I was on maternity at the time, so I really couldn't afford to spend frivolously, but now that I reflect on this impulse "buy", I really did make some good use out of all the yarn, which encouraged me to tackle colorwork in my knitting and experiment with different color combinations for a number of different hats. Mind you, weaving all the ends for the Fish Hat was no picnic, but the end result was well worth it. And look, after four plus years, the hat is still holding up pretty nicely, despite the machine-washed look of it now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bamboo Love and Steve!

I stumbled across some great "finds" at HTnaturals today after picking up lunch at Fujiya for my little guy before his preschool. I have always intended to pay this eco-friendly store a visit, as they also carried some hemp yarn, but it was only in very limited colors, so it was just not a big enough "draw" for me to make it in. But boy, was I thrilled to have made the time to visit today. Still no bigger selection of hemp yarn, but great basic clothes with simple lines, great rich colors, nice little details, and best of all, clothes made with hemp and organic fabrics! I picked up some great deals in their sample baskets-- two super soft bamboo/organic cotton shirts (at five bucks each!!!) that would be great for biking and everyday wear. Bamboo is sooo comfy! I love it, because it has an anti-bacterial property in the fabric that doesn't require the use of chemical antibacterial agents. It's no wonder there are so many new bamboo sock yarns out on the market today. So, if it weren't for my time crunch to feed R and get him to preschool, I think I would've been shopping there all afternoon. I must add, if you are a lucky size 10--that is HTnaturals' primary sample size, you'd be buying up a lot of their five-buck deals. Sorry guys, I forgot to look at the primary sample size for you.

Here's what I'm working on now...... a cat pattern from Denyse Schmidt's book, Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects. I got my hands on some upholstery fabric sample books for next to nothing at the fabulous Ruby Dog's Art House and decided that I had to make "Steve" (or "Heart" as D calls him).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Kitty Pi Finished!

Look who got a present. G'nam, our lucky 11yr old kitty just got a comfy new kitty bed, my knitting project for the past week. Using Wendy's popular kitty pi pattern, I knit this up in less than a week, threw it in the washing machine twice, and it felted into a perfect-sized bed for our older and chubbier kitty. Although I really made the kitty pi for the two of them to sleep in together, the younger kitty, Mui Mui hasn't been too interested in it at all.

See, G'nam loves her new prezzie and sleeps in it all the time.

Here is the kitty pi fresh off the needles pre-felting. It was knit from about four skeins of Paton's UpCountry Yarn which I scored for only $2 a ball after Michaels stopped carrying it.

And here is D asking me to make him a bed too after trying it out before felting/fulling.

Last, but not least, here's how I blocked the kitty pi using a stool that we had around the house. Quick projects can be so gratifying! This was the perfect "quick fix" project.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Am I Knitting?

Care to guess what I'm knitting? I've ceased to progress with any of my hats and started this project, which has pretty much consumed what little spare time I have in the day. Maybe I'm craving some mindless knitting or just a new project to satisfy some instant completion gratification??? Anyhow, too much has been going on around here with R starting preschool last week, the family dealing with hubby's medical issues, and work being less than understanding about the big picture of life. I'll hopefully be able to reveal my project within the week. Below are some activities the boys are keeping busy with:

alphabet stamping

making designs with glass pieces

A bag of coloured glass pieces--roughly a big handful was only 99 cents at Dressew! Wouldn't these glass pieces make a cool mobile? There is an article on sea glass in the Martha Stewart Living magazine (August 2007 issue) that has an excellent sea glass mobile project using driftwood and sea glass. Okay, so I'm not exactly using sea glass, but our glass would still be pretty hanging by the window!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Splendour of Autumn at Our Doorstep

Autumn in its full glory is here! The apple festivals have arrived. Pumpkin patches have opened. Our grey residential streets have suddenly disappeared under a brilliant golden blanket of leaves. It's my favourite season. We took time to play in it this morning-- examining the leaves, shuffling in it, looking at bugs--dead or alive, running for balls through the leaves, and even posing in it as a boarder with some serious attitude.

You look so rad D! Just no real aerial tricks yet please. Mom will have to ask you to abort any inkling of those ideas stirring in your head.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Look at My Loot!

Depite the pouring rain today, we went to Word on the Street, an outdoor book and magazine festival, held downtown just outside the Central Library. For the first time ever, I was able to snag a book bag for the book bag treasure hunt. In the past, I've always gone too late to buy one of the 250 available bags to collect the treasure hunt freebies, but not this year. I can't believe what I've been missing all these years, because this is my loot collected from some of the participating exhibitors today--lots of bookmarks, pens, books, and magazines, of course, but also extra book bags, (including a knapsack), a kids DVD, a sampler music CD, and one of my faves, a loaded Starbucks card that came with the purchase of the treasure hunt bag!

The festival was super fun with lots of authors and interesting literary types to talk to and many book-related activities for the boys. It was just too bad that I couldn't collect from the entire list of participating exhibitors, but the book bag was still well worth the $18. The wind and rain, unfortunately and eventually, got a little too uncomfy for the boys. I was sensing the meltdowns coming on fast and furious from every direction, so we had to head for the car.

On the crafting front, I've been crocheting booties--just trying to get the design right to match my basic crochet hat design. (Crappy photo, I know.) Not only have I had requests, but I've got two nieces or nephews or one of each making their debut in April, 2008! Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hats to Finish

Tell me. So where is all the extra time to finish all my projects now that D is in Kindergarten full time? The custom orders are growing and I need to make more inventory for the store. And I don't even want to mention the UFOs all over the house! I finally managed to squeeze in some time to work on hats this morning, (my favourite time in the day to do so) after dropping D off to school and finishing dishes from last night's birthday celebration. (Our little R is now three!!!) But pretty soon, it will be time to get the panniers ready for work after lunch and play-doh time with R.

Here's R just outside the beautiful McGill Library in Burnaby from last week. Vancouver's civic strike is still on, so there are no libraries open in our city. It's hard to believe that it's been about 10 weeks now without our local libraries!

Monday, September 17, 2007

First Day of School

Looking a little unsure of what full-time school is going to be like, D will surely enjoy all the social aspects of what academic life has to offer. I'm thankful that he already knows many friends going to the same school, many of whom he already knows through preschool and/or other community activities. We're even trying to incorporate biking to school--at least one way anyways, to avoid using the van so much. I actually push R in the stroller while D rides now, but we'll hopefully all ride together in the future. In the meantime, I can't wait to continue more of this:

with only R hangin' out with me all day. Yes, I finally dusted the wheel off to try some of my Shetland wool. In two more days, gradual entry into Kindy will end and D will be in school all day!!!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

2007 Summer Trip

Here's a brand new mosaic of our annual summer trip to Tofino and Saltspring Island. Go ahead and click on the mosaic image to enlarge. This year was special for we had arranged to go on the trip with my dearest childhood friend and her young family. We actually ended up having a family reunion of sorts with my friend's mother and sister's family joining us too! A fun time was had by all with many chances to "catch up" with one another's lives in between chasing all the toddlers and the pre-schooler. We stayed at the Clayoquot Field Station for one night and then moved over to the super kid-friendly Crystal Cove Beach Resort where we camped for three nights. To end our trip, we travelled to Saltspring Island to attend the renowned Saturday morning market and stay at the comfortable Wisteria Guest House.

Sadly, very little knitting or crocheting took place during our trip, (despite having brought more than one project with me) but I did get inspired to spin again after buying a bag of dyed fleece from Willowcrest Farm at artcraft. Too bad I did not have my drop spindle at that time.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Relaxing Drop Spindle

After an emotional and exhausting month without time or motivation to post, I recently found something new and exciting to practise -- spinning yarn using a drop spindle. I have tried using a drop spindle once before in a beginner's spinning class at Birkeland Brothers, but failed dismally at it. But when the family went on the annual PNE outing this past weekend, I had the privilege of being shown how to use a drop spindle at the country store in the Safeway sponsored exhibit. Every year, I look forward to visiting this exhibit with the spinners, animals, petting zoo, and in particular, the country store where I admire and touch all the yummy sprinkle-dyed wool fibre by Shades of Narnia. Fortunately for me, the owner of Shades of Narnia happened to be working that afternoon and gave me the demo of spinning on a drop spindle. She made it look so easy and relaxing that I just had to buy the drop spindle/wool fibre kit. I got the hang of using the drop spindle fairly quickly at home, but really can't say that I've mastered thin, even singles on it quite yet. Here's what I have so far, and that's with a gazillion interruptions. Look at the pretty colors! Is it a coincidence that the yarn I'm spinning are my blog template colors???!?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Magic Word

R has been making a lot of demands lately, maybe to practise using his words, maybe to test out his boundaries, but probably to primarily show his brother that he is just as fast talking and capable in every which way. Last week in the van, R asked for some sandwiches that I had just packed for our outing. I obliged, but then added, "So, what's the magic word.....?" before handing over the sandwich.

"Poo-poo!" laughed R as if it was the most hilarious joke in the whole wide world. D joined in on the joke. Me--I was still waiting for that word (please), which eventually came out as I expected, but bathroom humour, neverending as it may seem to me and common at this age, is what's going around my world these days. I think it's time to find some new and exciting "knock-knock" joke books.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sewing on the Horizon?

ISBN: 4579110520

ISBN: 4579110978

Some exciting Japanese craft books came in the mail two days ago from YesAsia (see link on the side). Two are sewing books and the third is a crochet book. I recently spent a fortune repairing and replacing some parts on my beloved Pfaff sewing machine that my mother had bought me when I was a teen, so I thought I'd get inspired by purchasing these two beautiful books to get me back into the sewing mode. I adore the sheer simplicity of the patterns which help to show off some beautiful fabric and to emphasize lovely details like smocking and pleats.

ISBN: 4391622572

I wasn't super impressed by Ha-Na's small things of crochet book, but I did like the cloche and the cute round coin purses.

For those of you interested in ordering Japanese craft books online, it is way cheaper than going to the Japanese bookstore at Yaohan (upstairs) in Richmond. It's a big savings to get free shipping, which YesAsia offers if you spend $39US (and aren't you tempted with the US exchange so low these days @ 2 to 4%?) in Canada and $25US in the United States! My first experience ordering Japanese craft books was through Amazon Japan (who also offers good prices on their books), but I spent $20US just for shipping alone for three books. I've been very happy with YesAsia, as they've been good with communication when they haven't been able to fulfill part of an order and allowed me to make up the order with another selection to qualify for free shipping.