Ringing in the New Year

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I have fought off my Dayquil induced haze for a few minutes to come here and wish you all a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2012.

I have also taken a few minutes to look back on my 2011 projects, and I have to say that I
was pleasantly surprised to see that I managed 21 of them, I think that's not too bad.

And now, I will crawl back under my blankets and hope that my voice returns in the next few days.

Deck the Halls

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I finally mananged to take a few photos of our own Christmas decorations to share with you guys. Aidan has really enjoyed helping me.

We started with his room. I especially like these little wooden ornaments.

Every year we've added a few special pieces like this star.

The Christmas Pyramid and Advent Calendar belonged to my grandmother and I count them among my most treasured possessions.

I had quite a number of crafts I wanted to make, but only managed these snow globes. Aidan loves it. It's a really fun and easy thing to make. For anyone interested, I kind of followed this tutorial.

And last, but not least, our own Christmas tree.

The only thing missing now, are the gifts, and I really hope I will finish all of my hand-knits in time.

Four Years ago today....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Four years ago today, I experienced the happiest moment of my life when i was able to hold this in my arms:

It seems that I just blinked and he has transformed into this:

He has taught me so much, about myself, life and especially love.

Happy Birthday, Schatzi!

Montreal Christmas market

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In keeping with my newly established Christmas traditions, we ventured to a Christmas-market this weekend. Last year’s was a great experience and even though we were not fortunate enough to have much snow this time around, it was still great.

With Michael Bublé’s new Christmas CD playing, we headed to the Marche de Noël de L'Assomption. At the market, we were greeted by a wonderful smell of vanilla and cinnamon roasted almonds. We strolled by the different vendors and admired the offerings, even ran into a familiar name

People were milling about buying Christmas trees and warming up by the fire pits that were strewn about the market. A little train was blasting carols and taking excited kids on a ride around the neighbourhood to admire the Christmas decorations. The kids enjoyed watching people eating maple taffy, and posed dutifully with a giant nutcracker. 

Until….a familiar sound caught their attention. Surely it could not be? Did someone really say “HO, HO, HO”?

To everyone’s delight Santa made an appearance at the market. Of course, we also had to greet him and tell him about our own wish list, which by the way includes a garbage truck (don’t ask).

It was a wonderful outing and I can say that this is definitely a tradition I will hold on to.
This weekend I will go around the house and photograph some of our decorations to share with my readers.

Advent Calendar

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

There is something magical about the time before Christmas. In my family the season was always kicked off by December first, the advent time, the count-down to Christmas morning.

I've been working hard at starting my own family traditions, and it is a continually evolving list, but so far we have hot chocolate to welcome the first snowfall, a visit to the Christmas market, weekly cookie baking and this year, I am adding crafting to the list.

It's so easy to feel inspired by the multitude of ideas out there, and I am always amazed at the talent and incredible ideas my fellow crafters display. Last year, I made A. an advent calendar (see details here), and he really liked it, so of course I had to make one for this year. He's a big Lego and Playmobil fan, and they have great ready made Advent calendars.

That was my starting point, but the presentation I wanted to personalize. So, using this tutorial I made 24 boxes (took forever),wrapped them, made tags, and finished at 11:30 on the 30th November.I can't begin to describe how his face lit up in the morning at the sight of it. It made the papercuts all worth it. Next, we're making our own snow-globes, and on the weekend we're checking out this Christmas market. And soon I'll be updating you on my Christmas knitting as well.

Happy Advent everyone!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let me give you a short summary of the conversation between my sister and I that lead to my knitting her a hat for her birthday, and one for Christmas.

Our email-conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, I was thinking that for your upcoming birthday I'll make you a hat, what do you think?

Her: Sure, sounds great!

Me: What about these? (I sent her photos of Rosebud, Star-Crossed Slouchy and Norie).

Her: Well, Rosebud seems to small, Slouchy too big, and I am not sure Norie is my style.

Me: I should have known, OK, let's make this easier, go to Ravelry and do a  search, pick what you like, and let me know.

about an hour and a half later

Her: What about these? (Attached are no less then 11 different hats)
nice try, right?

Me: I did not offer a life-time supply of hats, I said, one. You are making me second-guess the idea! Can you please narrow it down for me?

a couple of days later

Her: So I've been looking at the hats I selected and I am not sure I still like them. I can't decide, maybe you should pick?

Me (rolling my eyes): All right, what about deciding on a shape? Do you want a beanie type hat or more of a slouchy one? You must know which you prefer!

Her: Well I'd like to try a slouchy, never had one of those, but in case that does not suit me, a shorter style, like a beanie? How about you make two?

(See how she managed to negotiate that one?)

Me (insert exasperated sigh here): Two it is, one of each, I think you need to try something new. What about colors? Can you pick a color for me?

Her (picture a devilish giggle here): Whitish-pinkish-green?

I never answered this last email. My sister is notorious for having a hard time making a decision! Picture this exact conversation whenever we discuss what to do over the weekend or where to go eat.I think she loves torturing me like this, she knows it drives me nuts!

Ah, siblings....but honestly, I could not ask for a more wonderful sister. She's great, and she's my biggest supporter, especially when it comes to my knitting. It's a couple of weeks early, but "Happy Birthday" sis, and you know what? You do get a life-time supply of hats after all!

Ravelry details here: Sorana's Star-Crossed Beret

Snowflake toddler hat

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've kept my word and started concentrating on Christmas gifts. First, I tackled a new hat for my little man. It's been a while since he's been outfitted with some hand-knits, so he was first on my list.

I've been meaning to try a color-work project ever since, in the spring, I took a course at my local yarn shop "Espace Tricot" (see more about that adventure here). I came across the Snowflake pattern on Ravelry and it immediately caught my attention. It's just the right combination of cute and traditional. I find there's not an abundance of cute patterns for little boys out there, so I was very excited to find something I liked.

I used leftover yarn from my Levenwick project, and thought a nice, contrasting orange would look nice for the color-work. Mirasol had the perfect shade of burnt orange. I've never worked with this yarn before, and can I just say it's.....oh sooooo soft! Holding two strands of yarn proved to be somewhat challenging, I still haven't found my own way of doing it, but I only had 15 rows of the snowflake pattern, so it was manageable.

I should not have blocked it lying flat, because now the earflaps are creased, but I could not find a bowl or a ball of the right size....and because I chose to make it bigger, it sort of needs a chinstrap to stay put, but all in all I'm pretty happy with how it looks.

I ended up bribing my already hyper 4-year old with chocolate to model the hat for me, but it worked. Does that make me a horrible parent? 

I really like this picture of him, he's got the most devilish grin, does he not?

I've already moved on to my next Christmas gift, it's another hat, this one, for my sis.

Keep calm and blog on!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's been a year already, my blog has been up and running for a whole year. How time flies! Forty-six posts and quite a few projects later, I am having a blast. I have "met" so many talented, like-minded people, and it warms my heart to know that I have been included in such a special community.

Today I want to say thank you, thank you for being so kind and encouraging, for applauding my little successes and giving advice when needed.

I feel grateful to have found something that is mine, that gives me a creative outlet and allows me to make a contribution, no matter how minor.

Source: Etsy


Sunday, November 6, 2011

I have to admit, I have been selfish. This is now three FO's in a row for myself, and to be honest, I am starting to feel a little guilty. Enough to have decided to focus on Christmas presents next. But more on that at a later date.
For now, let me introduce you to Levenwick. I really like this cardigan. It has a classic feel to it, and it fits nicely. The pattern itself, I did not find complicated at all, and I learned a few new things, such as the I-cord bind-off, the invisible purl increase, and a new way to make buttonholes. I am always amazed at how every project teaches me something new, but that also means that I still have lots to learn.
I drove myself crazy trying to find the right buttons for the cardigan. The ones I ended up using look OK, but I think that the perfect finishing touch would be shell buttons, something with a nice silvery-blue sheen. Etsy has a few options, but none in the right size, so I'll wait.

I have to say that there are so many patterns that have caught my eye lately, it's crazy! I received my copy of Coastal Knits, and I think I will have to knit every single item in it. Also Jared Floods new Loft Collection and of course BT Fall 11, how can you not want to cast on immediately? And have you seen Hannah Fettig's new Framed Pullover and Autumnal Cardigan ? How does she find the time? I do not believe there is one pattern by her that I do not love...How will I ever keep up with knitting all of them? Ah, there I go being selfish again!
What about you guys? What's on your knit-wishlist? Any interesting projects in the works?

Feeling pensive

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It was warm and sunny. Probably one of the last warm and sunny days this year. I walked along the path, watching the kids run ahead through the "magic forest", collecting colorful leaves, being delighted by all the yellows, golds, reds and browns. It's heart-warming to see how enchanted they are by such simple things.

Seeing how their faces light up when they discover something new, I am reminded to slow down, take a look around and really notice the beauty that surrounds us.

It's easy to forget this in the mad dash that is our daily routine.

Herringbone cowl

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This weekend I had to turn on the heat in the house. Normally that would make me pretty sad, but this year I am embracing the cold, and will make the best of it.

Perhaps the fact that I have a new, cozy and gorgeous cowl to wear is making the transition a little easier. It only took two weeks to make, significantly less then I thought, and I love it. My only moment of panic came when I had to block it, just some of the old fears resurfacing, but a little encouragemet from my new friends from the luvinthemommyhood ravelry group, helped me overcome them.

I wore the cowl all weekend, and was especially happy to have it at A.'s first visit to the skating rink. Can you say cold? He looked so adorable all decked out in skates, elbow pads and a helmet..... but I digress.

Now I'll have to start thinking of Christmas gifts....suggestions anyone?

Carefree cowl knit along

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I was really excited when I heard that Shannon of luvinthemommyhood had decided to start off another KAL. This time, in keeping with the season, we are knitting a cowl.
I have to say that I did not have a hard time making a choice. One of the patterns I've always admired is the Herringbone cowl. The look is the perfect blend of classic and modern style. As for yarn, I thought that luxurious was the way to go, warm and super-soft, so I invested in 2 skeins of Malabrigo worsted. The color is called "Polar Morn", though I think that something like Storm Clouds is more accurate. It is soooo soft. It'll feel great wrapped around my neck. I've made pretty decent progress, and am sure it'll be ready for when the cold weather hits. And sadly, that's right around the corner.

Stocking up

Monday, October 10, 2011

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Ours was quiet and relaxed, sunny and warm.
It was so nice to be able to sit out on the balcony, absorbing the last few warm rays of sunshine and trying really hard to ignore the fact that A. refused to nap all weekend.
I’ve always had a predominantly monogamous relationship with my knitting projects, but lately I feel the need to keep starting new things. Today I forced myself to finish up some headbands, like the one I made here. They have been really popular with my friends, and I even made a set , as loot-bag gifts, for a toddler birthday party. I enjoy knitting little girly accessories like this, so I made a few for the shop. I have not updated my etsy shop in quite a while, so I felt it was time.
Life has been a little crazy around here, and I am having a hard time keeping focus. There are a lot of changes happening for our little family, and it’s sometimes overwhelming. It’s certainly affected my creativity. It’s odd, because I still knit, quite a bit, but it’s almost a furious knitting process, as if I am trying to capture that “feeling” of contentment it usually gives me, but it’s not quite working out. I know that time will resolve everything, but I am running out of patience.
I will be showing off some more knitting soon. I’ve been working on the Levenwick cardigan by Gudrun Johnston, and I am making some decent progress.  And I cannot wait for the new Luvinthemommyhood KAL to start. I’ve got a pattern all picked out, and yarn ordered.  Here’s to putting reality and its problems aside and focusing on some fun stuff, right?

Apple picking

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It may sound trivial, but family is really important to me,but especially creating family traditions and beautiful memories for my son and niece. Maybe I’ve become more conscious of the importance of traditions by becoming a mom, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have a lot of family around, but I spend a lot of time trying to come up with memorable and fun traditions for our little clan to enjoy.
For the last 3 years, every September, we go apple-picking. Believe it or not this was an entirely new experience for me.  Growing up in Romania, we had our own apple trees in my grandmother’s garden so there was no need to go too far to stock up on fruit.
There are lots of choices around Montreal when it comes to apple-picking, but so far we’ve gone back to this one particular orchard called Verger Lacroix. They grow Honey Crisp apples, which are my favorites. We pack up the kids, sandwiches, sometimes drag the grandparents along and we spend the entire day there. They have everything from a playground to a petting zoo, sometimes even a little maze made of bales of hay. A trailer hitched to a tractor takes you to the place where you can pick, and what 3 year old does not love that? Every time we’ve gone the weather has been absolutely perfect, and we’ve had a blast. Both my son and my niece will talk about the experience for weeks afterwards, and I am sure they will remember these excursions.
The only problem is…..I’ve got 30 pounds of apples! Help! What was I thinking? Anyone have some apple crumble/cake/crisp/pie recipes to share?

Fall knitting

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall has arrived, and it seems everyone is back in knitting mode. Maybe it's the chilly mornings begging for a cozy scarf, or the beautiful colors surrounding us, golds and reds, greens and browns. Maybe it's the return of the Pumpkin spice latte that is the perfect companion for your WIP.

I can certainly say that for me, I am back scowering Ravelry, and reading up on all knitting blogs to see what's new and exciting. I think I am not the only one to be thrilled about the recent release of "Coastal Knits". Ever since I pre-ordered it and got the pattern for the Rocky Coast cardi, I've been obsessively thinking of the right yarn to use for it. I even knitted up a swatch in some yarn I already had, but I find it too stiff. It does not do it justice. So the search continues. I've ordered the sample booklet from "Quince and Co" , because I've heard so much about it, maybe it's a good choice. Anyone have any suggestions?

One last summer adventure

Monday, September 19, 2011

I’ve always had a soft-spot for hot air balloons. I find them incredibly romantic and beautiful. This is why, when six years ago they started to hold a hot air balloon festival outside of Montreal, I was thrilled. But every year something prevented me from going.
This year however, nothing was going to stop me. We chose to go the first day the festival opened, as the weatherman promised clear skies, and set off. As an hour drive turned into three, I started to suspect that everyone had had the same brilliant idea. And of course I was not prepared, no toys, no snacks, no distractions. But we were strong, and our patience was rewarded with a parking spot about a 20 minute walk away from the action.
The festival included open-air concerts, inflatable bouncy castles, rides for all ages, food and of course, the balloons. There were over 100 hot air balloons of all shapes and colors scheduled to take flight that evening. How exciting!
We quickly grabbed some sandwiches, and ran to the field to secure a good spot to watch the wonders unfold. After a bit of a wait, because some unexpected clouds decided to shed a few rain-drops, we were delighted with:

What, you mean you cannot see it? Look closely! See that little spot waaaaaaay up in the sky? It’s not a smudge on the lens, it’s a balloon all right! Granted, not a hot air balloon, but….this was all we got to see. The rain had delayed things so much, that it was too late to fly. Did you know that they do not even take the balloons out of the trailer if they do not fly?

Yeah, so feeling completely “deflated” (pardon the pun), we debated what to do. The only way to salvage the outing was to make sure that at least one of us was going to have some fun, so we headed for the inflatable bouncy castles. A few line ups later, the sun was beginning to set and we were trying to convince A., that it was time to go, when  I noticed… air balloons!?

A few of the participants had in the end decided to inflate the balloons, so as to give the crowd at least a glimpse of what we missed. So we did not get to see 100 balloons fly across the sky, but you have to agree that even this sight is stunning.

Summer sweater KAL, mission complete!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It’s done! I am so proud! A few hiccups along the way, but I’ve been able to overcome all these little obstacles, and I’ve learned quite a bit (my favorite being the super-stretchy-bind off). It’s my first adult size project, and even though it took 3 months to complete, I am hoping that with time I will get faster.
I convinced my husband this morning to come to the nearest park and take pictures of me modeling the cardi, and he did really well I think (I can’t blame him for my frizzy hair, right?).
Now….feel free to shower me with compliments..;-p

Our visit to the coast of Maine

Monday, September 5, 2011

As kids, we spent at least two weeks at the seaside every summer. Romania has a beautiful coastline, and we always had a blast being there on vacation.

I remember waking up early, eating in the garden, then marching down to the beach, our towels and beach-toys trailing behind us. We would return in the late afternoon, our skin still hot from the sun, and smelling like salt-water. Magical wouldn't you agree?

To me, no vacation is complete without a stop at a beach. I love the smell of the sea, the feeling of your toes digging into the sand. Since we spend a few days in Boston back in July we decided to stop by Ogunquit for a few days before heading back to Montreal. And it was a great few days. The weather was incredible, and it felt good to just lie in the sun, finish a book and listen to A. giggling while playing in the sand. The only drawback really was the freezing cold water, and by freezing, I really do mean, teeth cchattering, lips turning blue, feet feeling numb kind of cold. What else can you call a water-temperature of 54 Fahrenheit (that's 12 Celsius)?
Here's a few shots of our time spent there.

On another note, my cardi is almost finished...I am actually meeting the (extended) deadline!!!

KAL standstill

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Featherweight Cardi progress has come to a screeching halt!
The body is finished, and I just bound off the collar part….and tried it on…well, let’s just say, I’m going to have to redo the last part.
Here’s my dilemma. I decided to work the collar in a K1, P1 rib. But because it is a lace-weight yarn worked on larger size needles, it looks a bit like a lace pattern, and I like that, but, still, a K1, P1 rib will end up gathering the fabric  (if you know what I mean), so now the front looks short, and almost ruched.  NOT a good look. So I will have to unravel it and redo it in a plain stockinette……ahhhhh, frustrating!  I Can’t bring myself to undo it just yet…..


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I've always complained that I feel isolated living in Montreal, that all vacation destinations are too far. To overcome this mental block, this year we took a road-trip to Boston.

A six hour car ride may sound like a nightmare when traveling with a three-year old, but a trip to the Dollarstore provided us with enough distractions for the drive. The studio booked, the directions printed, and our stops strategically planned out, we left early on a Saturday morning. I took full advantage of the long drive to work on my KAL cardigan and made great progress.

Now let me tell you about Boston. I loved it, we all did! It did not stop us one bit that we were there during the heat-wave, we were out all day, every day. We stayed in the North End, or Little Italy, within walking distance to a multitude of restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, as well as Quincy Market and the harbor. A great location! We spend a lot of time in the Public Gardens and Boston Common to cool off, but we also visited Beacon Hill and Harvard, the Children's museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. Quite a bit for a five day trip. Our planning was based mostly on information from Frommers, a great source.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite shots of our trip.

Next time... I'll tell you all about Ogunquit beach in Maine.