Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where Did 2008 Go?

Christmas came and went, just like the rest of 2008. I can hardly believe that we are at the end of another year. Upon reflection, 2008 was quite an intense year filled with anxiety for the unknown, passion for life, and gratitude for all I have around me. I wish you all a happy, healthy, new year full of peace and new endeavors!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kool-Aid Socks

As you can see, I'm still knitting the baby socks. In fact, I may be addicted to this simple little pattern by Amber Ward. I went and dug out one of my very first hand-dyed, slightly slubby, handspun yarns--some Kool-Aid dyed, handspun Polwarth singles that I never got around to plying, to see how it would knit up as a sock. Since a sock for a newborn wouldn't require the durability of a toddler sock, this was a great way to use up some of my handspun singles. I quite like what I see so far... I really do love how handspun, hand-dyed yarns look and feel so vibrant and "alive" versus the commercial yarns. I will most definitely be digging out the dyeing equipment again soon... I have a few skeins of undyed sock yarns begging to be painted in my "gynormous" yarn stash...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

R's Thoughts on Baby

R: Why are you always knitting so many socks? Does the baby have ten legs?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baby Projects

I've been thinking about knitting for our baby, due to arrive mid to late February, for awhile now, but have had trouble starting projects. There are just way too many patterns to choose from, first of all, and not enough time to go through everyone's amazing patterns and notes on Ravelry! Anyhow, with all the kicking and playing going on inside my belly to remind me that it won't be too long before s/he will be arriving soon, I've had to get a move on with narrowing down a few projects and starting something. Among some of the projects that I really want to complete for this baby are a Baby Yoda cardigan, an EZ Baby Surprise Jacket in my own handspun, some hand knit socks, an earflap hat, and some other crafty projects as well (ie. a kimono style quilted jacket and felted slippers/bootees) I know I'm being quite ambitious at the moment, but there's nothing wrong with aiming high. I decided to start with some socks. Below is my completed first pair of hand knit wool socks in elann's superwash yarn. The pattern is Ribbed Far-Away Baby Socks by Amber Ward found as a free download on Ravelry. My second pair, above, is the same pattern, but in elann's Esprit, a stretchy cotton yarn. I think I like the wool more, which I think, will hold its shape better as a more snug sock. We'll have to put the socks to the test when baby comes out...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Handknits Fit!

Look! The handknits mailed to HK this past spring for my new niece and nephew finally fit! At the rate that these two cutie pies are growing, I'll be lucky if they get six months wear out of these Baby Yoda cardigans!

Here's the link to Cari Luna's super Baby Yoda pattern along with some other free patterns.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can't Read Charts in Karate

I desparately needed a finished object from being so frustrated at the Koolhaas hat that I had been working on, so I started and finished a pair of Maine Morning Mitts instead. The mitts (my second pair) are such a relaxing knit, that I may have to knit a bunch more for Christmas. The Koolhaas hat, which was almost half finished last week, ended up being frogged due to mistakes made while watching D's karate classes. I fixed some of the mistakes, but more mistakes were made after re-fixing, so I gave up. I should just not bring any kind of chart reading to any of D's lessons. That concentration of mine needs some fine-tuning...

Anyhow, it's just too bad that the Bernat Alpaca seemed a bit itchy after trying on the finished mitts. I had to put in a cuff lining just to remedy the problem before gifting the mitts to a friend at work.

As for the flan from yesterday, I pretty much licked the plate spotlessly clean. I resisted the temptation to gobble up a second serving, despite the boys not liking it, but who'd a thought that D would reject dessert! And because D thought the flan tasted like "barbeque", R pushed it away at the table too. I guess the "burnt" sugar taste isn't for everyone, especially for those with simple tastes. Hey, wait a minute, D loves cambozola and blue-veined cheeses on croissants! Oh well, I'm sure he'll acquire the taste for sophisticated desserts in time. For now, that just means more flan for M, me and baby #3.

A Little Baking... A Little Patching... on a Rainy Thursday

I've been craving flan or creme caramel for weeks now and have finally gotten down to making it. I went through a whole pile of recipes on different sites, but decided on a lighter, Mexican version without the condensed milk. The ramekins are in the fridge chilling until dinner, so we can't wait! My boys have not been eating eggs lately, so this is a good way to disguise a little protein in their meal.

Otherwise, I've also been trying to think of cool ways to patch up D's trousers and sweatpants, which are usually relatively new except for the holes that a six-year-old wears into them right away, more specifically, on the right knee for every pair that needs patching. I love the look of leather patches, but I just don't have the time and patience to hand sew through thick leather sometimes, and for some reason, I'm not very skilled at using a thimble. I just never got used to using one. So, imagine how excited I was to find some bargain iron-on patches at Dressew last week while doing some last-minute Hallowe'en shopping. (Two patches for 25 cents!) This is what I came up with for D's pants.

I simply cut out the skull design I wanted and ironed it on for 30 seconds.

Then I outlined the eyes and nose of the skull using a chain stitch.

That was it! Other designs to consider without having to do the extra embroidery might be a star, a car silhouette, or animal (ie. a dragon, etc... )

Monday, October 13, 2008

On Being a Big Brother

From time to time, your children say amusing things to entertain you. It's just a given....but then there are times when children just say things that seem ridiculously profound or just a lot older and more advanced for their age. Two days ago, D was being very helpful and set the toilet ring on top of the big toilet for his brother to go potty. Being very conscious to recognize my D's kind and considerate gesture, I told him that he was a very good big brother and that he was going to be an even bigger help as a big brother to the baby that was growing inside my tummy. As D leaves the washroom to give his younger brother some privacy, he turns to me and nonchalantly answers, "That means more work and that means more stress." Now, is that really a six-year old talking??!? Seriously, sometimes I think there's a fifty-year old living in that six-year old's body. I hope he's not too worried about his RRSPs yet.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

For the Ears and Just Plain Ol' Bad Hair Days

Off the needles and straight onto my noggin is my new Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, a quick, diversion knit courtesy of Natalie Larson. As the mornings and evenings get chillier here in Vancouver, I desperately needed a hat to cover the ears, so it was a bit of research on Ravelry to find the perfect hat pattern. I've been meaning to knit a beret for over a year, so this pattern was really satisfying, as it also fulfilled my urge to knit cables and to knit continuously in the round. As it turned out, I loved knitting this hat so much that I could hardly put this project down as soon as I cast on! The cabling pattern looks more complicated than it really is, trust me. Here are the details:

Pattern: Star Crossed Slouchy Beret by Natalie Larson
Yarn: elann's Peruvian Highland Wool in colour, Mocha Heather
Amount Used: 1 skein and perhaps only 1/4 of a second skein
Needles Used: 4 DPNs--6mm and 1 DPN--5-1/2 (because I didn't have another 6mm) and a 7mm circular needle, 60cm/(24inches)

So now, it's back to straight knitting on my Morning Surf Scarf, which is happily growing longer..... photos to come when finished!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Applying Etiquette

This morning, my R carefully came up from the garden to give me a zucchini flower that his father had instructed to bring to me. I thanked him and my soon-to-be-four year old emphatically said, "It's my pleasure!" R's learned this expression over a year ago, but has not used it for quite some time, so it's always a wonderful surprise to hear that he hasn't forgotten what you've taught him.

It's just annoying when R catches me sneezing and reminds me right away that I have to say, "Excuse me," before I even have a chance to.

As for the latest project on the needles, I'm working on the Morning Surf Scarf using my own hand-dyed merino handspun. The pattern is by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer and was recently featured in the Summer 2008 issue of Spin-Off magazine along with many inspirational examples of this scarf pattern knit-up. With fall just around the corner, I thought I'd knit something cozy with some of my hand-dyed handspun. Here's my version. I'd have to say my second and third photos of the scarf are more accurate for colour than the first one taken in more direct sun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Comfort Food

Yesterday afternoon, a well-intentioned family member brought over some "jook" or congee for me to eat, knowing that it was one of my favourite cravings from time to time. I hate to say, but it was just not the best congee that I had ever eaten--way too watery and just nothing in it that I liked. So, today I set out to make the most satisfying, congee that I could with all my favourite garnishes. I debated over adding meat to the pot, but decided against it, since my plan was to make my congee egg-heavy with salted duck eggs and century eggs. I was also going to buy some crispy barbequed duck to eat with it on the side, but wouldn't you know it, the closest bbq meat store in my neighbourhood just happened to be closed today. So, I got full this afternoon on plain, but delicious basic white congee to which I added chopped scallions, slivers of peeled ginger, chinese doughnut (yiao tiew)--something I haven't had in a long,long time, century eggs, salted duck eggs, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Now, I don't know if I'll be able to ride to work on such a full stomach....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back from Vacation

what summer is all about

We're back from vacation, and happy to be in our own beds. We can't believe August is amost over, but much has happened since posting a month ago. First, we had an exciting family visit with the twins, A and Z--new cousins to D and R--our first meeting-- and boy, are they adorable! The twins turned four months while they were here in Vancouver, and they've grown so much in the two weeks that they were here! We're so happy and grateful that my brother's family was able to make the long trip back home for this special visit.

new additions to the family

Then, as soon as my brother's family left for HK, it was speed packing for camping in Tofino and Saltspring. All our camping gear and necessities just went flying into bins labeled kitchen, bed and bath, food, clothing, and kids' activities. I let the hubby take care of the rest of the gear, like shelter, lights, cooler, stove, first aid, and the vehicle. I always feel we take too much stuff, but we manage to use most of it on our trips, and we're always able to jam everything into the back of our van. Oh, and I couldn't forget my knitting project for the road-- my Slipped-Stitch Rib Sock that I started back in May of 2007. I'm happy to report that although I did not complete the sock on the trip, I did get a chance to work on it a lot, especially on Saltspring Island where I had free time to work on it in the early mornings and while the boys were out playing by the lake during the day--D in the water with the other kids and R on the tire swing. All I have left to complete is half the foot and the toe shaping for one sock, and then the closing up of the toes for both socks!

finally, time to myself on MacKenzie Beach

We went on vacation as a group of three families this year, and although challenging at times with not all of the kids getting along, it was fun catching up with old friends, making new ones, and working together as one big group to make the trip a smooth, relaxing, and memorable one. Below are some highlights of our trip from Tofino's MacKenzie Beach to Saltspring Island and then up to Whistler back on the mainland:

waiting for s'mores around the campfire

D posing on the beach

building sand castles

the dramatic rescue of a husband without a lifejacket, whose kayak flipped

the beautiful view from the cottage

hanging out at the Saltspring Saturday Market

hamming it up at Whistler while watching the mountain bikers

We can't wait to do this all over again next year!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Delights

The garden is such a magical place despite mine being overgrown and full of weeds. This year I've made a bigger effort into growing more veggies that we could use in our family meals. It's been about four or five years since I've grown snowpeas, so it's a real accomplishment that I actually have a small harvest of both round and flat snowpeas.
My strawberry rhubarb has continued to thrive in its present location next to the fig tree. I've already used it in a coffee cake and a rhubarb bar recipe back in June, so instead of making a pie (which I was too tired to make yesterday), I made a simple rhubarb compote using 6 cups of chopped rhubarb, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of grated orange rind, and 1/4 cup of water. I involved the boys by teaching them how to de-string rhubarb stalks, which they had fun doing after a light duel with the rhubarb stalks as though they were swords. The compote turned out great and will be delicious with vanilla ice-cream or even just toast in the morning! I can just see myself making more compote and preserves in the future as my strawberry freezer jam turned out so scrumptious as well this year.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

February Lady Sweater Started

I've just been so happy knitting sweaters using circs that I can't seem to stop..... here's my February Lady Sweater (pattern by Pamela Wynne) that I started last week. The weather has been so hot lately that I couldn't bring myself to knit in wool, so I'm using Lion Brand's Cotton-Ease in Taupe. I'll hopefully have more progress to show you of the sweater while trying to fit in the boys' summer programs, shift work, gardening/weeding, and keeping the house from falling apart.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Our first MEC Paddlefest

We had a perfect day to try paddling at Ambleside Park this past Sunday. Mountain Equipment Co-op put on some great water clinics with Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak at Paddlefest for kids and adults. D had a great time trying something new despite being the youngest and most inexperienced. He didn't even complain or get upset when he had trouble manoeuvering the kayak to keep up with his group. The teachers were great and everyone seemed passionate about helping one another learn more about the paddle sports.

After the clinic, D told me he'd like to try kayaking again. This is exciting to know. We're glad D isn't too easily discouraged by being thrown into a completely new experience. He's such a good sport!

This guy, on the other hand, was too young to try kayaking, but was quite content blowing bubbles on the beach and having the comfort of his favourite cookbook (yes, you read right, his fave cupcake cookbook) nearby!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Where Did June Go?

It's hard to believe today is the last day of June and it's become hot watermelon- thirst-quenching weather here in Vancouver. The boys have even started sleeping out on the deck in the family tent. June seems to be a blur now, which I only remember as a lot of frenzied planning for the boys' summer activities, the parties laden with sugar wrapping up the school year and the annual late spring activities, namely, strawberry picking and D's birthday planning!

I finally finished the Baby Surprise Jacket in Noro Kureyon. Don't you just love how it turned out?!!! I almost chose wooden buttons for the jacket to give it a rustic flavour, but opted for the classier shell buttons. Like so many others who've knit this jacket, I love the ingenuity of the pattern by Elizabeth Zimmermann. However, I do have to note that the original pattern was seriously confusing to me. If it weren't for Dawn Adcock's super helpful notes here, I may have scrapped this project.

I bribed my youngest to model the sweater, but decided against it, since the jacket was too small for him. Taking photos would have been an injustice to R and the sweater. It looks like Ava will be the lucky recipient of the jacket when she comes for a visit this summer from HK with Zach and the family. I can't wait to meet and play with newborn twins!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who's Charlie?

I walk into the living room to check on R yesterday morning, and he looks directly at me in this mischievous way and blurts out, "Sit down Charlie." I try not to burst out laughing, explain to my forty-four-month old my name is not Charlie and that I'm a little too busy to sit down right now, and walk back into the kitchen, all the while trying to figure out where he may have picked up this line. Such a funny kid.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What D Thinks About...

Today, as we were walking from the parking lot to the swimming pool for his lessons, D asked me who made the world...... AGAIN! It's really not unlike him to ask me such a deep philosophical question, as he has always been pretty mature for his age, but he's asked me this question before and I always bring up the Big Bang theory and he always suggests the added possibility of God creating the world, an idea he's heard from other people besides me. I stress the uncertainty of it all, and because D never gets the black and white answer, he just continues to ask the question from time to time. Then a little later on at the pool, he asks if I was a mom who was just pretending to be nice, but was really an evil person!!! My first thought is, gee, why can't I have a normal kid?!? But then again, what is normal? Wacky and off-the-wall, but maybe that's what almost-six-year-olds think about or is it just mine--one who probably watches too much tv and/or has a vivid imagination in high def? Anyhooow, my D never fails to surprise me with his sense of wonder.

Other activities this weekend included a trip to check out the Chinatown Night Market, which is small in comparison to the Richmond Night Market, but still quite fun and interesting for the atmosphere and offerings by the variety of vendors. I have to say that this market has improved and is a lot more organized than what I remembered it five years back.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


As you can see, I've made some progress on the Baby Surprise Jacket. I'm not a super fast knitter, but I've been trying to get it in between all the martial art classes, swimming lessons, and the little one's preschool. And lately, I've been getting the urge to start spinning on the Louet 10 again. I actually dug out the nostepinne today to wind up some experimental singles that I had spun up and left on the wheel months ago. I might just have to dig out some new fibre to spin tomorrow, if I have any time left, that is, before having to leave for work in the afternoon.