A Belated Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A belated Merry Christmas wish to everyone! Hope your holidays were filled with love, laughter, an abundance of food and quiet moments to do some knitting. I, myself, managed to squeeze in a few rows and put finishing touches on a couple of projects that I cannot wait to share with you.

Gift Knitting - Cable Cardigans

Sunday, December 18, 2016

 I’ve been knitting a lot of things in duplicates lately. As everyone knows when you have 2 children you cannot get just one of anything, that’s playing with fire. So if I knit for friends’ kids or my nieces, it all has to be double. Which makes it feel like there is little progress on my projects, and I find that truly frustrating. Couple that with the fact that it feels like my list of bookmarked patterns is only growing, and I am a very aggravated knitter. However, nothing satisfies an irritated knitter more than FO’s . I am happy to be able to wrap up these adorable cardigans and send them on their way to Austria. But not before I tell you a little bit about them. This pattern really is at the top of my list of favourite kids knits. I already know I will be knitting it a third (sigh) time for my own little girl. 

I love the fact that the pattern is written for a variety of sizes, and because it calls for an Aran weight yarn it is a relatively quick knit.  The cabled yoke gives it some texture and adds a lovely intricate detail to a relatively straight-forward knit. I chose to knit the body a little longer than it calls for and  the hems on the sleeves long enough so that they can be folded over, this way the cardigan can be grown into and be worn for a little longer. There is enough ease built into the chest sizes to allow for that (I hope).
I tried two different types of yarn to make these and I am happy that both yarns seem to work for this pattern. The Luxury Collection Lima Tinto yarn is 100% wool with a fuzzy texture that should keep the wearer warm and cozy. It knits up great at the required gauge. The striped colorway adds an element of playfulness to the cardigan which I particularly like (pictures of that version are on my Ravelry page ). My second choice was the Berocco Vintage yarn, as it is for a 3 year old and will probably get dirty a little faster and I think that the washability of the Berocco is essential in this case. I found it to also be a suitable yarn for this pattern, though the gauge was a bit off, I chose to knit a larger size in the smaller gauge, because I felt otherwise the fabric was not turning out properly, and it worked out beautifully (if you are interested, the project details are on ravelry here).
I cannot wait to see them worn, used and loved and I wish I could be present when they are unwrapped for the first time.

Discovering Portuguese yarn

Sunday, December 11, 2016

For me, no trip is complete without a visit to a local yarn shop. Prior to our vacation in Portugal I did quite a bit of research to decide on which one I would duck into during our stay in Lisbon. There were a few to choose from, but as much as I would love to do a yarn crawl in many destinations, there is no way I could expect the family to join along with the same enthusiasm such an endeavor would elicit in me. 

I chose to go to “Retrosaria Rosa Pomar”  and let me tell you, I was not disappointed by my choice.
If, actually no, WHEN I go back to Lisbon I would love to try one of her classes and see if I can learn the Portuguese style of knitting, which she teaches at her shop.

It is a charming yarn shop, tucked away on the second floor of a building in the lively Baixa neighborhood. The space is airy, with yarn spilling from vintage suitcases and off rustic tables. The choices offered are also great. I am starting to become increasingly fascinated with trying locally sourced yarns. I like the idea of  supporting a movement that is bringing focus to sustaining and bringing back to life an industry like the one behind  sheep and wool. My decision to visit this shop was cemented by this post on the Tolt blog a while back where Rosa and her shop were introduced. 

I could not leave the shop without having invested in a few well-chosen skeins. This lovely fingering weight Mé-Mé 2 Ply yarn is currently on my needles and turning into a beautiful Guernsey triangle.

Then there’s a sweater’s worth of worsted weight Beiroa yarn, made from the wool of Bordaleira Serra da Estrela sheep (doesn’t that just roll off the tongue ?) which I have earmarked for Carrie Bostick Hogue’s Shore Cardigan.

And last but not least I convinced a friend visiting Portugal only a few weeks after me to stop by and bring back enough of this yarn to possibly make Hannah Fettig's Gable sweater.

I cannot wait to be able to show you the FO’s once done, and hopefully not a year from now!

A vacation dream realized

Saturday, December 3, 2016

It feels like ages ago, but maybe it’s better I’ve taken so long to put together this blog post about our summer vacation. It feels right to do it now, because as the weather becomes increasingly cold and gray, looking at pictures of a sunny destination makes me happy.

My husband and I talked about visiting Portugal for years! He is of Portuguese descent and has very fond memories of visiting as a child. But the summers passed, we had kids, booked other destinations, just never Portugal. But this year it finally happened, we spent a glorious 14 days exploring Lisbon and a bit of the Algarve coast.

The beach stay in Portimao on the Algarve Coast gave us the opportunity to meet friends, relax, have delicious food, talk late into the night over a glass of wine while listening to the rhythmic crash of the waves on the shore and taking deep breaths of salty ocean air. I did not want that week to end. We spent the days lazing around at the beach, building sandcastles, jumping head-first into waves. We took naps. I read a book and did some knitting. I completed disconnected, it felt so great to slow down and forget about everything, live in the moment.

Returning to Lisbon, we adopted a quicker pace. We stayed in a tiny but adorable apartment in the old part of town, Alfama. A perfect location in my opinion, it puts you in the heart of the city. I loved hearing the sounds of all the goings-on drifting in the open windows. At night, while everyone else was asleep, I’d lay awake (as I found out white wine gives me insomnia) listening to the clinking of dishes from the restaurants close-by, the excited chatter of locals and tourists alike, the fado singers entertaining guests. Similarly, early mornings were signaled by the clattering of roller suitcases over cobblestones, tourists departing or arriving, the smell of freshly baked pasteis nata wafting through the alleys.

We took our time exploring different neighborhoods, all of which have a distinct charm and their own vibe. There are countless things I loved about the city,  the black and white cobblestone streets with all its mosaics, the ceramic tiled colorful buildings, the lemon tree lined streets, the hidden alleys, the brilliant blue skies, the viewpoints dotted all over the seven hills that make up the city, the funiculars which are national treasures, the fresh sea food, I could go on and on. There are so many more corners that have been left unexplored and that I cannot wait to discover one day.

I took countless pictures and I will leave you here with a  sampling of my favourites.

All images via my Instagram account.

Summer days

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Once again I’ve been absent from the blog for a prolonged period of time. Summer has gotten in the way of regular blogging and to be honest I cannot say that I feel too guilty about it. Summer is so short around here, and a good, sunny, warm summer SO rare, that we take every opportunity to be outside, live it, experience it, savour it. These weeks are so crammed full of activities, that I barely have time to think , not to mention compose a blog post.

Still, I did not want to neglect my blog for too long, so let me assure you that there’s been knitting. A light, fun, cardi for girls that’s the perfect cover-up for chilly summer evenings. And it’s got the perfect name, “Ice cream sundae”. 

It’s no wonder it inspired me to make Watermelon popsicles, sit out on the patio, soak up the sunshine, watch the kids play and knit away.

Our next couple of weeks will be filled with more of the same, as well as preparations for our vacation. Two glorious weeks in Portugal await! And now if you’ll excuse me, the popsicles are melting.

Style-a-knit ~ Summer instalment

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Last year I made a promise to myself to focus my knitting on building a modern, fashionable, versatile and fun wardrobe.  I had anticipated my "Style-a-knit" project to take a while, and boy was I right! My first choice took nearly a year to finish. However, I am glad to say that I am back today to introduce to you my second choice.

In looking at the ideas had I jotted down, I realized I have quite a few fall/winter choices lined up for the next few style-a-knit instalments  but not a lot of summer tops, so I will be doing some research to balance things out. More on that at another time.

On the top of my list of summery knits was the Togue Pond tank by Pam Allen. It is an incredibly versatile top, and the perfect choice to kick-off my summer knitting. 

As you can see it looks great under a blazer for the office, but equally as lovely worn casually with jeans, at the beach perhaps? 

I will be knitting it in the exact same yarn and colour as shown in the sample. I rarely go this route, but this really is the perfect choice for me. I am also looking forward to trying Kestrel yarn. Ravelry seems to be floodded with a myriad of projects knit in it, and they all look fantastic. I have a new-found appreciation for linen yarn ever since I finished my Bayside Pullover, and am looking forward to trying it in a few more garments.

I am planning on wearing this top proudly on vacation, so I have a 6 week window to knit it. And then I can introduce you to my next choice. Wish me luck!

It finally feels like summer

Monday, June 27, 2016

This weekend I had the most perfect summer morning experience. The patio door was open and I could hear the birds chirping outside. The sunshine was streaming through the windows and the kitchen smelled of freshly brewed coffee. The kids were playing quietly and happily, no arguing, yelling or throwing tantrums. For once.

My knitting needles were clicking away on a swatch that makes me very happy.

A while back I blogged about a family heirloom that is very dear to me. It is my only knitted family heirloom. A little baby dress in a stitch that was a mystery to me for the longest time. I pulled it out recently for Sienna, she's just the right size for it, and it reignited my curiosity. So I poured over stitch dictionaries and I searched and searched until I finally found it! 

It is appropriately called the "Oyster Stitch". I've got plans for it, great plans, and I cannot wait to show you more. For now, I am happy experimenting around. 

This discovery comes at a great time, because I have felt a little stuck in my knitting. Ever since I finished the "spark of Grey" shawl, I have been ridiculously indecisive and have been unable to pick my next project. I am looking for a summer project, and there are some great ones out there, but I am having a difficult time choosing a summer-appropriate yarn. Any suggestions? Advice? I would love your input. Currently my top choices are Vaara, Ashby Tee, Over the Top top, and Togue pond.

Wool @ Home - Dining Room

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My quest to include, or add a nod to my love of wool and knitting to every room of the house continues. I recently talked about my project to use up leftover yarn by adding a pom-pom garland to my daughter’s room. It’s still a crowd-pleaser, and my son asked for one as well, albeit in his favorite hockey team’s colors. I will of course  oblige. 

His interest in my knitting and wool-related stuff is really contained to his appreciation of this garland, I do not believe I will make him into a knitter, and I am ok with that. I may have another chance with my daughter. Her favourite animal? 

Sheep! I know, you can congratulate me on a job well done, thank you. But to be honest, this was all her, I did not consciously influence her. Maybe it’s because they are all white and fluffy, maybe it’s because “BAAA” is easy to pronounce, in any case, sheep it’s where it’s at with her! And I am loving every minute of it. 

This has prompted my decision to also knit her a sheep toy, and I have my eye on this pattern, but that’s a topic for another post.

Today I would like to present you with our dining room decoration that includes, in a very prominent place, my sheep calendar. When I first glimpsed the preview on Ashley’s blog ,“Woolful” I was hooked. I missed her first shop update, but thankfully was able to snatch a copy when she restocked. It is beautifully illustrated by Emily Fratson with watercolor drawings of different breeds of sheep and dye plants. 

It watches over us as we have dinner, cook and do homework. Sienna loves pointing at it and yelling “BAAAA”, and her excitement when the picture changes every month is adorable.

I am really  enjoying the is process of adding little touches of wool related goodness to our home. Cannot wait to show you what else I've got.

Going Home

Monday, June 6, 2016


When someone asks me about “home”, I find it hard pinpointing where that is for me. Is it the place I grew up? The place that has turned me into who I am today? Or is it the place I have now lived for the majority of my life, the place I became an adult, a mother, a wife?

Can “home” be more than one place? In my case, that is probably true. Parts of me feel at home and grounded back in Romania where I grew up, where my oldest memories formed. Memories that become vivid every time I visit. I have not been back to Bucharest in nearly 10 years. Ten years is a lifetime. I finally returned a couple of weeks ago.  As soon as I stepped off that airplane it was as if I never left. I took a deep breath and I felt peace. Strange how certain places can have that effect on you.

The reason for my long overdue visit was my grandmother. Her health has deteriorated significantly over the last few months and it felt important to make an effort to go, giver her something to look forward to. It was emotional, and sad, but I am incredibly happy that I went.
Besides the time spent with my Oma, my days were filled with rediscovering the town, and reconnecting with friends. 

Bucharest is a city filled with contradictions. Old and new, clean and dirty,  modern and traditional, tacky and stylish. It’s all those things at once.

I barely scratched the surface in the 4 days I spent there. I wish I could have stayed longer. Hopefully it will not be another decade before I go back.

Here are a few images I captured while there.

Old books for sale near University square.

Little hidden alleys.

Parisian inspired architecture.

The amazing Carturesti bookstore

Beautiful building details are everywhere.

The yard of the Farmer's Museum hosts this miniature church.

Lots of potential

More charming corners.

Abandoned places waiting to be rediscovered.

What hides behind these gates?

Not a lot of places in Bucharest offer this kind of view.

Calea Victoriei.

Cafe's ad restaurants abound.

On my way home.

If you want to see my Instagram feed, check it out here.

Spark of Joy

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gifts are hard. I have a terrible time deciding on gifts, be it for my husband, my sister, my mom, my best friend. I strive to find the perfect gift for every occasion, overthink it, second guess my choices and enter a sort of vicious cycle. 

But sometimes, just occasionally I have a brilliant idea. 

My mom is one of these people that are hard to shop for (I believe at least), so I was on the lookout for an idea for this year's birthday. She's not much of a knitter herself, though she knows the basics, it never stuck to her. She always enjoys seeing my projects and she's sported the occasional hand-knit hat (by yours truly of course).

My latest FO is the "Spark of Grey" pattern by Melanie Berg. I've already talked about my admiration for her patterns and am planning my next Melanie shawl. 

"Spark of Grey" turned out beautiful! I really love the two yarns together , and I realized that the colours I chose were also perfect for my mom. I believe that this time I've nailed it! For once I really did find the perfect gift for someone.

Me time - Knitter's Frolic 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

We all need “me” time. Mother or not, it’s healthy and revitalizing to carve out a time to indulge in one’s own interests. Be it reading, working out, meeting friends, sleeping, knitting, if you take this time to yourself, you will return rested and refueled. You may feel guilty about it, and I often do, but I have come to really understand how healthy it is to have this “me” time.

Last weekend, four of us piled into a minivan with a giant sheep sticker on the side and headed to Toronto for our annual visit to Knitter’s Frolic. Annual is an exaggeration, as it was only my second time attending, but I can see it becoming a yearly tradition. (I blogged about my first time at Frolic here)

It was a knit and wool filled weekend, with chats, planning, laughs and a few glasses of wine. I had a blast, and it flew by!

We arrived a day early and our friend Jen took us to Romni Wools. I spent an hour walking around the store in a daze, picking up skeins and whining the whole time that I had no idea what to choose. In the end I left without having bought anything. Sad, but true. My indecisiveness continued the next day at Frolic. 

I found the Marketplace overwhelming. Maybe because I went in without a plan. Who has not felt disoriented when faced with booths and booths of yarn. Oh, SO MUCH YARN! Am I the only one? 

In the end I forced myself to make a decision, and ended up with a kit to make the Sashiko Cowl, 2 skeins of Sweet Georgia, that I am earmarking for Rheinlust by Melanie Berg and a lovely project bag from Sweet Fiber.  

In the afternoon we had signed up for a class with Bristol Ivy. A class on knitting on the bias, which turned out to be much easier than I thought. I found Bristol to be an incredibly confident and lovely teacher. The class felt like a sit-down with friends, we chatted, we knit, we experimented and learned something new. Perfection, right?


Monday, May 2, 2016

I have been in a pretty dark mood lately. mostly because of the unpleasant weather we've been having. So I needed a distraction. What better way to change one's mood then to embark on a project with a tight deadline?

A few weeks ago Hannah Fettig started the #wewearknitbot  challenge. The idea was to knit up and style any of her patterns by April 10th. I had the perfect project in mind. 

The Bayside pullover is a pattern I started, and I am ashamed to admit this, in July 2014. I had to eventually set it aside because it turned out way too large, at least a couple of sizes too big, and at that time I was too upset to deal with having to re-knit it. 

Hannah's challenge brought the knit back from obscurity and to the forefront of my knitting queue. It felt like the right time to tackle this project.

I thought that Hannah's request to "style" a hand-knit was a great idea. There has been such a fantastic movement toward an awareness of handmade items, towards an appreciation of hand-crafted clothes, and it is great to see everyone's style shine through.

I myself have become more and more conscious of my fashion choices, and think about where my clothes come from, who's made them and how. 

"Wewearknitbot" was about taking a handmade item and celebrating it by creating an outfit around it. A great idea, right? I have been trying to do something very similar with my "Style- a- knit" series of knits. Granted I am only on knit # 1, but my point is that great minds think alike, you know?

I absolutely loved seeing the fashion show that ensued. If you are curious, you can see all the posts on Hannah's blog here.

I am really happy with my finished pullover. Now all I need is for spring to cooperate so that I can wear it. 

Lists - lifesaver or curse?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Things are so hectic around here. With full time work and full time parenting, with hockey and dictee, trying to fit in family time and friends, I barely get a moment to breathe. And at the same time I am consumed by this need to create. 

When things get crazy, I tend to retreat into my thoughts, to make lists so as to have the impression that I have things under control. Can you be addicted to making lists? I may be. I have lists for everything. And I am not talking just grocery lists and to do lists. Lists of books I want to read, and books I've read, places I'd like to visit and the things I'd like to do there, lists of new skills I'd like to learn and then the projects Id like to make using those skills, lists of yarns to try and patterns to make. 

You get the idea.

The list of favourite patterns recently revealed to me that there are some imbalances. I have for example never knit a pair of socks, or mitts....GASP! Also, apparently I like shawls, but have only ever knit one (see here). This was clearly a situation that needed to be rectified. If nothing else, it would give me the feeling of stability in at least one aspect of my life. A small accomplishment, but one finds sanity where one can, right?

My Ravelry explorations led me to a lovely group of ladies organizing a KAL to knit one of Melanie Berg's patterns. What serendipitous timing! The choices were either the Oceanbound or Spark of Grey pattern, both of which are stunning. The Spark of Grey pattern seemed perfect for these 2 skeins I;ve had in my stash for a while waiting for the right pattern that would showcase their beauty. I chose to use a skein of Fleece Artist Sea Wool mixed with a hand dyed skein by yours truly. This yarn was my first attempt at dying wool, and I love how it turned out. 

The goal was to finish this knit by April 3rd, but as you may not be surprised to learn, I did not make that deadline. I am only now nearing the finish line. So far I am very pleased with the result. The yarns and colours work beautifully together, and I just know that this will not be my only Melanie Berg knit. All of her designs are incredibly beautiful, and this may come as no surprise I now a list of Melanie Berg patterns I am planning on tackling one day!

Wool @ Home - The Nursery

Monday, March 7, 2016

I thought it would be a fun exercise to share on the blog just how present wool and my love of this fibre is in my life. In my home to be more precise. 

I am planning on taking you from room to room and share with you how I have "decorated" with wooly goodness. I am calling it "Wool @ Home".

As a knitter, and a compulsive one at that, wool and yarn are always on my mind. But not just on my mind, at my fingertips as well.

One's home should feel comfortable and safe, and personally, to feel comfortable and safe, I surround myself with some of my favourite things. A nice book, a cup of tea, a pretty notebook, chocolate, a glass of wine, and of course, knitting. That's me in a nutshell. Follow the trail of yarn bits and chocolate foil, and you will find me, no fail.

As any self-respecting knitter can attest, wool and yarn are an investment. I have a rather small stash, and I am working on changing that, I promise you, so I find it important to make every yard count. I also tend to overbuy when purchasing yarn for a project, so there are always leftovers. So I am often faced with the question of what to do with those. 

I realized that these leftover bits of yarn are perfect for pom-poms. A fun, colourful pom-pom garland for my daughters room. 

Bonus? It is a good project to do with bored 8 year olds in need of a break from playing video-games. My son thought it was hilarious that the pom-poms needed a haircut after being finished.

Honey Hat

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I desperately wish for spring. My Instagram feed is showing me glimpses of blooming trees, budding branches, sunshine and warm days. Looking out my window all I see are branches encased in ice, and the weather forecast promises more of the same. 

How does one keep happy and motivated under such circumstances? There's always getting away, or planning summer vacation, complete with a countdown to said vacation. Or chasing  a patch of sun across the house, that is, IF the sun ever shows up. In absence of sunlight, you can always load up on vitamin D. Retreating to the couch with a giant mug of tea and a good book.

My cure? Not surprisingly... knitting. I decided to focus on a quick project, something that, at the same time, would use up some yarn in my stash. Instant gratification if you will. You can never have too many hats! So I chose to make the Honey Hat, a pattern which was especially written for this yarn.

As a side note, I rarely end up using the called-for yarn in a pattern, which is a risky endeavour, I know, and I usually obsess over the result, question if I have made the right choice, if there would have been a better choice… you get the idea. I guess this could be a good experiment. Knit up something in the yarn suggested in the pattern, and then experiment with other yarns. Oh, if I only had the time!

But back to my hat. It is a fantastically quick knit, an easy pattern to memorize, and turns out a lovely hat. I love this shade of plum, and the fact that it brings a little pop of colour to predominantly gray days.