Tuesday, August 29, 2006


One evening Irene invited us over to her house to do kumihimo braiding. Kumihimo is a form of Japanese braiding, normally done on a Marudai - something that resembles a wooden stool with the centre cut out. We used squares of cardboard with slits cut out. It worked quite well. My braid was very lopsided and twisted - where I've miscrossed some (a lot) of the strands. It was fun but the cardboard didn't hold up to my manhandling of it. They will start to bend and wear out after a while.

These Kumihimo discs from Braiders Hand. The discs are made of very dense foam, with all the slits pre-cut. They are a really good inexpensive alternative to the more traditional Marudai. I thought and thought about it - do I need another craft? No. Do I want another craft? YES!!! When I saw The Keyboard Biologist with her kit, I knew it was a sign and that I really should buy one (or two). I bought the Disc and the Flat braid kit. Janis at BraiderHand was very helpful. The discs included English instructions, EZ-bobs bobbins, and a bit of floss to get you started.

They arrived today and I tested them out. After making the first braid, I had to run down to Michaels for more embroidery floss. I didn't want to use up my DMC floss just yet. 105 different colours and 40% off! Love that Michael's coupon.

For practice, I made a bunch of little samples - won't bother with pictures for now. The flat braid was interesting...I accidently did a wrong cross halfway through and the pattern changed. I like the new pattern better but have no idea how I achieved it.

I can see this will be very useful for making cords for my knitted bags. With the embroidery floss, I can make thinner cords for fancy shoelaces. Now, I need to find out where to get the clear plastic tubes for the ends of the shoelace.

Edited to add:
A quick search on the internet informs me that the plastic tube thing is called an AGLET and there are
websites devoted solely (haha) to shoelaces.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Dentists are evil but necessary. Ok, I shouldn't say that about my dentist. She's a real sweetie. In fact, her whole team is wonderful. But I still don't enjoy a trip to the dentist. Half my face is still frozen and slowly thawing out. I hate that tingling feeling. It's going to hurt later. Ugh! While sitting at the dentist, I've been trying to think of things that could be worse than a trip to the dentist. Childbirth might be close.

On the bright side, I think I might have corrupted one of the assistant...she was fascinated by my sock knitting. Heh!


When I was four or so, my parents sold our house to some people who had a daughter a few years older. I remember they came over one night to do some paperwork and Belle, the daughter, was crocheting granny squares. It was one of my first exposure to fibre arts of any kind and it was the coolest thing I've ever seen! This even predates knitting for me. She was making granny squares to sew together to make a blanket. She taught me the chain stitch and the double crochet stitch. At that time, I didn't know what these stitches were called.

Years later, out of curiousity, I picked up a crochet hook and made a couple of granny squares. Other than a pair of really ugly slippers (it's amazing what you can do with very oversized granny squares!) I made for my husband years ago, I don't crochet. I understand the principle behind it. Crochet is for picking up dropped stitches in your knitting.

A week ago, I came across this and thought how nice this would look in handspun. Better yet, in energized handspun single. So, that's what I did. And crochet this...

The singles were really kinked up and hard to work with so I washed and stretched the yarn to dry. Once the scarf was finished, I washed it again and let it dry without stretching. This seems to put the the "energy" back in the singles and I got all the kinks back. In using a thinner yarn, I got a thinner scarf. I joined the ends of the scarf together to make a big loop instead of having them flap free. I like my scarves better this way. Spinning the yarn thick/thin gave the scarf more texture but it made the clovers less distinct. I joined the flowers a little differently - through the middle instead of going through the side petals. The wool is a Polworth roving that I had dyed lime green/chartreuse with splashes of black. Spun up, it gave me the darker bloches of green.

My first crochet project - other than granny squares.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Best two weeks ever!

It had been the most glorious two week vacation ever! The two weeks felt like two months (in a good relaxing way). And being back at work had not been bad at all. This is the first time I've come back from vacation and not have to figure out the mistakes of a CERTAIN MORON. Life is good!

I did a lot of fibre stuff, reconnected with an old aquaintance. (Michelle will be showing her work at Fibre Essence, opening Aug 27th.) Finished the Sister's Plain Jane socks and sent them off in the mail. Finished another pair of Plain Jane socks for myself and casted on for yet another pair of PJ socks. I bought 400gms of this sock yarn so that WILL be a lot of socks. I could dye the yarn but for some reason, it appeals to me to make as many pairs of socks - all the same colour and style. There's no reason, other than I wanted to do this.

I also did a bit of swatching for the Rogue sweater. I've had this pattern for two years and still have not made the sweater yet. I thought I would spin something for it but not sure I like the look. The corriedale lamb is nice and soft but the cables are not as crisp as I would like them to be.

What else did I do? I knitted 36 rows of my lace shawl and unknitted 13 rows back. I still haven't finished the first repeat yet. I think if I ever decide to design another lace shawl, I'll make the pattern repeats smaller. The pattern is 79 rows! That's ok. This one is just the prototype to work out the mistakes.

What I didn't do that was on my list of things to do was re-tile the front entrance. I have the tiles but ran out of time. It's been busy with picking all that fibre, the Annual Trek, knitting socks, spinning, the barbeques, and general lounging around on the deck. I just ran out of time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

See? Fly Eyes!

Those giant heads are gettting heavier and bigger each day. I think it's time to tie them up. The Jays have been by a few times to check them out but I don't think the seeds are quite ready yet. Close but not quite.

The tree in the background is a crabapple tree. (Click on the pic to see the tree better.) The previous owners of the property planted it and never ever once pruned it. When we bought the place, the realtor told us it was a plum tree (it was in the dead of winter) so we expected plums. We thought it was strange that it took a VERY long time for the plums to ripen. And they were so SOUR!! Finally, we cut into one and found the apple seeds. It was a D'OH! moment. The second year, we gathered as many of the crabapples that we could reach and made crabapplee jelly. A gazillion pounds of crabapples and hours and hours of boiling, straining, etc gave us 14 jars of crabapple jelly. And red spots on my kitchen walls that I still have today. Tasty jelly but really not worth the effort. Now, we just let the birds get at them. Or, if anyone wants crabapples, you're welcome to them.

Fleece Pickings

Monday was fleece-picking day. I brought the picker outside and picked through close to 16 pounds of fleece in 5 hours. My "assistant" sorted and pull the clumps of fibre apart while I fed the bits into the picker. We had quite the production going. It was a perfect day - until the wind picked up in the afternoon. It's really not a great idea to pick when the wind is blowing. I have tuffs of fibre all over the yard and into the neighbour's yard as well. The awning that kept the sun off us, acted as a wind tunnel and funneled all the wind right through where I was working.

Today, I have to pay my assistant...we're off to see Pirates! Love Johnny Depp!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pillows and Mug Rugs

The mutant sunflowers are not quite as tall as they were a few days ago. That's because the heads have gotten so large, they're bending over. And there's six flowers now instead of four. The centres reminds me of fly eyes. I know...I'm weird.

Annual Trek

Last Thursday was our 8th Annual Trek. The Annual Trekkers consists of me, my sister, my son, & my neice. Every summer we take one day and play tourist. It always starts with breakfast and Science World (yes, I know it's called Telusphere but it will always be Science World to me) and whatever else that catches our fancy. This year's Science World attraction is the Secrets of the Pharaoh Lego display. Really cool! I kept thinking how I would love a job that lets me play with Lego all day! We all had a great time. The new updated displays were very informative and fun. I'm just a big kid. :) Unfortunately, I think it must have been Day Camp day or something because I think every day camp in the city was there. The place was full of screaming pushy kids - we just ignored them.

The two kids had fun. It was strange to see the two of them together - great hulking teenagers - still enjoying an outing with the moms. Not sure how many more Annual Treks we may have but I'm hoping for at least another year.


As much as I pretend, I'm just not one of those people who start a pair of socks and finish them in 3 days time. The socks I was hoping to have done by Friday are still not done. I might have finished them if I had remembered to bring them with me on the Annual Trek. That's ok. My sister's birthday is not until next week. I can mail them to her. I'm halfway through the feet now.

Thanks to Rusty for the reminder the Guild Pillow Challenge is coming up (Ack! September!). I've gone into Mild Panic Mode trying to think of something. It's a Weavers and Spinners Guild. Since I don't weave, it means I could either spin something and knit it into a pillow or knit something with commercial yarns and full it into a pillow. I like the second choice. Paton's Classic Merino fulls up really really well. And thanks to January One for the Knitted Log cabin idea. The sample swatch fulled into a perfect mug rug size - I'm done for the Christmas exchange too! :D

Do you have yarn in your stash that you absolutely love? That, as soon as you saw the yarn in the store, you just knew it would be perfect for a particular project? That's how I felt about the Elspeth Lavold Hempathy. I knew it would make the perfect cardigan. I told myself I just need to find the right pattern for it. I've tried so many patterns (some I've made up) and nothing seems right. Tried it with different needles. It's just not happening the way I see it in my mind. It keeps telling me that it would make the perfect tank top but I had my heart set on a cardigan. I think it's best if I just re-skein this yarn and put it away for now.

*I'm having problems uploading pics so I'm not going to stress about this.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mutant Sunflower invasion

We have giant sunflowers growing in the back yard. Rick is 6' tall so I think the tallest one might be 12'. This picture was taken yesterday and today, they're even taller and the fourth flower has opened.

The fun thing is that we never planted them. In between the sunflowers is our tiny little apple tree. Last year, one sunflower sprung up in the dirt around the apple tree. We let it grow. I think the Stellar Jays must have brought the seeds in from a neighour. They're always in our yard for the crabapples. The Jays, not the neighbour. The flower from last year was just as tall. By the end of the summer, the seed head was about 12" wide. The Jays would fly at it, hang upside down and peck at the seeds. These flowerrs are from the dropped seeds last year.

The little apple tree is doing really well. We feed it quite a bit since it has to share the space with the sunflowers. One thing we noticed is that the tree is doing better, surrounded by the flowers. It had been touch and go for the two years with all sorts of problems and insects. I don't know if the sunflowers are helping but the apple tree doesn't seem to have any of the blights.

Sock Cuffs

Of all the different styles of knitting a sock cuff, this one is probably the best (in my humble opinion). I credit this to Elizabeth Zimmerman. I'm sure lots of other people over the history of knitting had done the same thing but EZ was where I first learned about this. Combined this with a K2P2 ribbing and you have the perfect cuff!

Cast on double the stitches you'll need over two needles in the size you're going to knit with. Pull out one needle. First round, knit or purl two stitches together - whatever you chose for the ribbing. By far, the superior sock cuff. I like using two needles to cast on because when I pull out the extra needle, it leaves lots of room for me to easily knit/purl 2tog without struggling. Easier on my hands.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Stand up and take a bow!

The strangest thing happened this morning. On the commute this morning I decided to finish off my sock-in-progress. I only had two more rows of decreases left. With that done, I whipped out my sewing needle and grafted the toes together. As the last sock came off the last needle, I looked up and noticed EVERYONE watching me. One person started to applaud and everyone else joined in. Apparently, most of these people have watched me knit almost everyday but they had never seen the finishing. Usually I do that at home.

Too funny!