Advent Countdown

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's that time of the year again! The holidays have snuck up on us, the first snowfall has already happened, and the countdown to Christmas begins. 

Now that I have made an Advent Calendar for 3 years in a row, the expectation has been set, and my son started asking days ago when this years' will be ready.

I just finished setting it up yesterday, and I find that it makes the house look festive. We're slowly setting up our Christmas decorations and we have a few cookie baking days set aside, these also having been requested by my son. I have to say, I am pleased to see that the little traditions I started a few years ago seem to already be ingrained and looked forward to. To me it means that he will have happy memories as an adult and that is exactly what I was hoping for.

On a more practical note, I am starting to run out of ideas as to what to fill the calendar with! I started with a puzzle, went on to a Playmobil one, last year's was filled with activities, and this year, every day he will get to unveil a Lego piece. 

What about next year?

Ideas? Suggestions? I realize I have another year to come up with!

Tell me about your Christmas traditions. Anything that makes the countdown special? Something the kids can't get enough of? I am open to ideas, so go ahead, share!

And A Happy Advent-time to everyone.

Color Affection - To YO or not to YO?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I am back today, to tell you more about my experience knitting the Color Affection Shawl. It is an incredibly popular project on Ravelry, having been knitted more then 10 000 times!
And because I am slowly starting to learn from my mistakes, I read up on quite a few project notes before starting my own.

It seems that there are 2 schools of thought when it comes to the correct way to knit Color Affection.There are those who choose to do a YO after the first stitch at the beginning of each row (dropping it on the way back so as to keep the correct number of stitches), and those who believe this step is unnecessary. The first avenue will result in a straighter top edge to the shawl, whereas not doing the YO, will give you a more crescent-shaped shawl.

What better way to test this theory then to start knitting 2 shawls using each technique. I was feeling adventurous you see? Below you can see the 2 samples I made. You can already notice that only after about 30 rows or so you can tell how one is curling more then the other. To me that was proof enough, I now had a decision to make. To YO or not to YO? It was not an easy decision, but ultimately, to me, the YO gives a cleaner edge, and I prefer that.

My shawl is finished and I will share photos of it in a couple of days, once the sun makes a long enough appearance to allow me to photograph.

In the meantime I have been working hard on my craft fair stash which is almost complete. The event is taking place on the 1st December in Montreal, at the Hampton Inn Dorval. If you are in the area, stop by, there will be tons of incredibly talented people there and you will surely be able to cross a few people of your list!

A good excuse

Friday, November 1, 2013

It’s been a while! 

I am sure some of you may have been wondering what has happened to my blog? Well I am here to tell you that I am ready to revive it (cue the applause)! Slowly to be sure, but my blogging and knitting mojo are coming back.  

What happened you ask? I’ve had a few months of rest, a time that was  sorely needed, due to the fact that I am expecting my second child! The first trimester was a blur, mainly because I could barely keep my eyes open, I felt so tired. But as I said, I am slowly feeling human again, and I have picked up the needles again, have started looking into patterns, I mean there is baby-knitting to be done! And I do have some projects that I can update everyone on, there are things that were finished a while back that I never got a chance to photograph or blog about! 

But tell me, what are your favorite knit baby-items, patterns, projects? Any suggestions? Ideas? I am curious to know what everyone suggests.

Via Pinterest

Charting new territory - Yarn dyeing

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I believe I may have discovered a new obsession recently. It has been a while that I have been fascinated by the process of yarn dyeing, and that I have wanted to try it. So when I discovered that a Montreal based yarn dyer called Sweet Paprika Designs was organizing a workshop, I signed up. Two of my knit-night friends joined as well. 

Our teacher, Debbie, was wonderfully informative and patient. We each had brought photos with us for inspiration, but it took us a while to decide on what colors we wanted to use and to achieve the right shades. Debbie was extremely helpful in making our inspiration translate into reality. 

I was freshly back from my vacation in La Jolla, so my mind was still filled with bright images of flowers and the calming tones of the ocean. 

First we tried hand-painting yarn. We each had a skein of laceweight, 50% merino and 50% silk, of about 1100 yards, which is amazing yardage, enough for a shawl, and maybe even the Wispy or Whisper cardigans.Debbie carefully guided us through each step, and it was amazing to see it all come together. All three of us were thrilled with the results.

Then came a skein of superwash merino fingering weight yarn which we dyed using the immersion method. Not nearly as exciting as hand-painting but still a ton of fun. 

As I said, this was so much fun, that I decided I will certainly continue experimenting with yarn dyeing, I can think of a million fun projects and color combinations. Oh, to have the time. 

Now, does anyone know of a sheep I can adopt, cause I am going to need lots of wool!

An Identity Crisis?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Warning! This is a long Blog post, so make a cuppa before you delve into this story.

Something significant happened this month. I have reached a momentous milestone in my life.

As some of you may know I was born and raised in Romania, and I moved to Canada as a teenager. It sometimes feels like it was a lifetime ago, and just as often is feels like it was yesterday. This month has marked the half-way point. I have now lived in Canada just as long as I have lived in Romania, and as of now, the balance tips the other way!

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact. And it has made me think. Am I no longer truly Romanian? Does one’s background fade if one is away for too long? Am I officially Canadian now? What makes one Canadian?

The truth is that even on my first visit back to Romania, which was only 2 years after I had left, I was told that I was different, that it was obvious that I no longer lived there. I cannot tell you how that statement hurt my feelings at the time. But at the same time I was happy, because that meant that I was adapting to my life abroad pretty well. At that age, all I wanted was to fit in, and I was desperately looking for that feeling of belonging. Over the years I have realized that fitting in is not the be all and end all. It is nice to be set apart by something, to be unique, but try telling that to my 18-year old self!

Canada is my home now, I met my husband here, I had my son here, we have built out home here, but does that mean I am a true Canadian? I decided to build a sort of a checklist to evaluate things.

What does it mean to be Canadian?

A love of Hockey?
I have to say that I get swept up in the hockey craze every year, it is after all the same principle as soccer, but on skates, with sticks and a lot more padding. I may not watch the games religiously, but we make it a family activity, and my son is obsessed with the sport, therefore, I give it a check in the box.

A love of Maple Syrup?
My uncle is a beekeeper in his spare time, so I grew up eating it with everything. But I kept an open mind, and these days, on my shelf, next to the never absent jar of honey now sits a can of maple syrup, and I like it just as much. So we have another check in the box.

A love of the outdoors?
I am a city girl. I grew up in Bucharest, we lived pretty centrally, and I love the hustle and bustle of the city. I am one of those people that do not mind having the sounds of cars honking and trams rattling by in the background. Living in Canada I have learned to appreciate the fresh air, the quiet, being able to sit on the balcony in the evening and hearing the loons fly by overhead. I have started looking for hiking trails, and love going away to a cottage on weekends. I may not have completely embraced the outdoors, but I think I am on the right track.  So another check!

In no way do I mean to say that the 3 above-named criteria are the only defining traits of Canadians. There are a lot of different aspects to being Canadian, one of the most important, to me at least, is an inquiring, open mind, a thirst for adventure, and a love of your surroundings.  

And what I have realized, is that while I am becoming more Canadian, I am still also embracing my own past and heritage more then ever before, and they are not mutually exclusive. 

So here's to another 18 years!

Color Affection Shawl - Choosing colors

Monday, July 29, 2013

I have to say that half the fun of selecting a new knitting project is deciding on yarn and colors. I don't know if it's because I have been flexing me creative muscle more through this blog (my photography and my projects), but I am starting to find more and more inspiration in my surroundings.My recent trip to California has filled me with ideas for new color combinations, projects, oh so many ideas. But more on that in the weeks to come.

Though it can sometimes be overwhelming to narrow things down, I always enjoy the process of choosing colors. Sure there is always that nagging doubt of whether the color is indeed right, but so far, I've been happy with my choices.

To help me in this process, I have created a Color Inspiration Pinterest Board where I gather pictures of color combinations that particularly speak to me. We all know what a tremendous source of inspiration (and obsession) Pinterest can be. I also particularly enjoy browsing Design Seeds. I have used their palettes as a starting point in decorating, knitting, tons of crafty projects, even wardrobe choices.

My current endeavor is the Color Affection Shawl by Veera Välimäki. This is an increasingly popular project on Ravelry and one I could not stay away from. Also, it is a three color project, that literally begs for some funky experiments.

Now here's what I think. If your goal is to have a more muted, subtle shawl, choose tones that are "related", in the same color family. If you are feeling adventurous however, and want to go bold, let your imagination soar!

I had lots of ideas but to be able to make them work I had to choose a yarn base that offered plenty of choices, and for that I went with Knitpicks Palette, after all they do offer it in 150 colors, surely something for everyone? I had several combinations I was considering, about 8 to be honest, and I looked at them for days, asked for feedback, and slowly eliminated them one by one. I even went as far as cutting up my Knitpicks magazine and playing around with the scraps of paper trying to decide. 

Curious yet? All right, well here it is, my yarn and inspiration together:

My colors (top down) are: Marble Heather, Opal Heather and Turmeric.

I find it is a very happy looking combination. Something that will put a smile on my face when I wear it, something to add some color to those dreary winter days.

If you are curious to see, here are some other combinations I was considering:

Summer knitting - Petra

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Like any self-respecting knitter I planned on having a project to work on while away on vacation. I settled on the Petra pattern by the extremely talented Pam Allen. I was attracted by the simplicity of this pattern, by its clean lines and the little bit of pizzaz the twists at the top add to it.

I had some Cascade Dolce yarn in my stash that I had purchased especially for this project, so that decision was easily made. I worked on getting gauge before leaving, so I was all set... or so I thought. 

I cast on within the first few days of arriving in La Jolla, but quickly realized that the needles I had with me  were wrong after all. The sweater is knit in the round starting at the neckline, starting with 120 stitches that you are supposed to knit with a 31 inch circular needle. I really had to stretch my stitches apart in order to be able to accomplish this, and this would have resulted in an extremely wide neck-line. So I was stuck, as I had no other needles with me.

A bit of Google detective work showed me that there were a couple of yarn stores in the area, but by no means close by. I put my project aside, thinking that was it for vacation knitting. A few days later we decided to drive along the coast line, and all of a sudden, while stopped at a red light I glimpsed a store sign that said "The Black Sheep". I confess, I may have screeched!

Naturally we pulled over and I was able to purchase the right set of needles, after having thoroughly inspected their yarn offerings, of course! I was really impresses by the choices of Manos Del Uruguay yarn they offered, it really is beautiful, and I am thinking I may stock up on some in the future.

But my adventures with this sweater continued. I happily carried on knitting away at the pattern, and it may have been the vacation mood, but I did not quite read the pattern instructions well. I was convinced that I had to repeat the pattern 8 times and then it would be smooth sailing in stockinette. Alas, after having gotten that far, I realized it was only 4 times that I had to repeat the pattern....So I did put the sweater aside for now...and I will continue working on it....but I have gotten side-tracked by other projects.

So this is it, it seems my vacation projects are always sprinkled with a bit of drama (see Spain Summer Sweater pattern notes), but in my mind that just makes them memorable!

A glorious trip to La Jolla

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I have started writing this post three times, and all I can say is, words fail me! I want to tell you about our vacation in California, where we spend two glorious weeks, but I am having a hard time finding the words to describe it.

How do you describe paradise?

I fell in love with La Jolla! With the city itself, its Spanish style architecture, the incredible beaches, breathtaking vistas, the laid back pace of life.

I hope that my photos do it justice, but try as I might I know that I only captured a fraction of the beauty that is to be found there.

A little late to the party

Monday, July 8, 2013

In case you were wondering, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, nor have I given up on this blog. I apologize for the long silence, but summer got in the way.

We spend a couple of blissful weeks by the ocean.... but more on that later.

Right now, though extremely late I realize, I want to mention that since Google Reader is no more, you can continue to follow my blog with Bloglovin. I have installed the (hopefully functioning) links to the right of this page. 

So please don't give up on me, I promise more regular updates to come!

Thanks for hanging in there!


A New York State of Mind

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I was fortunate last week to be able to escape to New York city for a couple of days. My husband and I, alone for 48 hours. No 5 year old demanding attention, no meals to worry about, no cleaning to do or anything else. It is such a luxury to be able to escape like that, I know, and I am not here to brag, but simply share some highlights of my little getaway.

I’ve been to New York a few times, so I have seen most of its major hotspots. This time we simply wanted to walk around and discover, absorb the atmosphere, explore a couple of neighborhoods in depth. When we were there in September I never made it to the Flatiron Building, and I have always wanted to see it, so this was our first stop. It really is an amazing architectural highlight. I could not stop taking photos.

Lunch was also a great experience at a place called Eataly. It was built to recreate the look and feel of an Italian marketplace, and it certainly delivers on that promise. You can easily get lost sampling and looking at the wonderful variety of products that they offer. There is absolutely everything from coffee (oh the smells!), gelato, cheese, cold-cuts, fresh pasta and all kinds of bread, a meat and fish counter and let’s not forget the myriad of olive oil and wines. I had the most delicious scallop dish, and I plan on going back to try lots more dishes.

The afternoon we spent walking through Greenwich Village and Soho, and I fell in love with the little details of these two neighborhoods. As you can see I could not stop photographing the architecture.

I did manage a stop at my favorite yarn shop, Purl Soho, where I grabbed a tote bag before my husband dragged me out. Right around the corner from the yarn store there is a place called The cupping room cafe, where I sampled the most amazing lemonade!This was followed by more walking and photographing.

My second day in New York I spent walking some more, taking some time to relax in Central Park, making some good progress on Game of Thrones (anyone else addicted?) and slowly taking in Madison Avenue.

It was a very relaxed time, if you can call walking for 12 hours relaxing, but I loved it,and I cannot wait to go back. 

A break, a getaway, a little me time, that's what everyone deserves every once in a while.

TTT KAL Finish- Lessons learned

Monday, June 10, 2013

My title my sound positive, but the reality of it is that I have decided to frog this project. I am about 3/4 through and I have known for a while that this is not going to end well. It's simply not turning out the way I envisioned it.

What went wrong? 

Here's what I think. 

Lack of proper measuring on my part mostly. In determining which size to knit, I simply based me choice on the bust measurement, and nothing else. I started knitting and blindly followed the pattern without any additional measuring. This approach usually works for me, and I have obviously been very fortunate with fit thus far. This is a very simple top, and fit is that much more important when you are making such a sleek item. I should have made it longer, narrower, shortened the lattice portion and decreased the neck-opening. Lots of fellow knitters made the Cap Sleeve Top during the KAL, and almost everyone made some modifications, so the next time I attempt this, I will certainly read more notes, measure and try it on constantly.

Here's to learning from your mistakes!

Tanks, Tops & Tees KAL

Monday, May 20, 2013

I have not had a chance to post about my latest project. Though short on time I decided to join Shannon from luvinthemommyhood and her lovely group of knitterly friends in yet another KAL. All of the knit alongs organized by her are incredibly fun, mainly because of the great chatter taking place on the ravelry discussion board. It is a great place to get advice, find support and encouragement as well as get a few laughs.

My project was not off to a great start. I chose to knit the Cap Sleeve Lattice top, a free pattern by the Purl Bee. At first I could not decide on what yarn to use, but in the end settled for linen. I ordered my yarn, it took forever to arrive and I got slapped with a rather steep duty charge. Then I had a hell of a time achieving gauge. A little discouraging you have to agree.

But I kept on going, even though the changes of me finished on time are slim, and I am halfway through. And it seems we are getting an extension, which may just mean that I get to finish. I hope.

Though I still second-guess my yarn choice, as it is turning out rather see-through, I will continue and see how it turns out. I will trust in my new friends to give me advice on whether it's a keeper or not.


Monday, May 6, 2013

How do you recognize a good friend? 
How do you know, that a friend is also your soul-mate? 

Is it the fact that they are the first ones that come to mind when you need someone to call? Is it the fact that you are comfortable telling them absolutely anything? Or is it the knowledge that even though great distances divide you, and a long time may pass between phone calls, once you do see each other or talk, it is as if you've never skipped a beat?

I am fortunate enough to have a handful of friends like that. And I was also lucky enough to be able to catch up with one of them this weekend. We had not met face to face in almost 4 years. We are both mothers now, but neither one of us had met the other's kids. And even though we have both gone through such a life-changing event, we have in a way moved in sync. It's almost as if we understand each other even more then before.

She is the friend that inspires, speaks to, and probably understands my creative side the best, as she herself is an incredibly creative person. She is a handbag designer and overall multi-talent. But I digress.

When I found out that she was visiting, I decided to make something for her adorable little daughter.

I decided on the Paulette pattern by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne. This is the first one of her patterns that I am trying and it was perfect for her. I chose to knit it in Tosh Merino Light and all I can say is WOW. This yarn is to die for! If you want to check out my pattern notes, you can find them on Ravelry.

It is a short visit, and I cannot bear to think about how long it will take until we we are able see each other next. 

I can only take solace in the fact that our bond is as strong as it is, and even though we were not meant to be close physically, we are soul-mates and always close in spirit.

There are those who hate knitting

Monday, April 29, 2013

My love affair with yarn and knitting has been going strong for about 4 years now. When it first began, I did not talk about my passion much, I suppose I was a bit embarrassed and I felt that I had to explain or defend my love of knitting. But as time has progressed, I have become more and more comfortable and confident, and while it’s not something I immediately reveal about myself, I am extremely proud to be a knitter. Also, my friends have been encouraging and supportive and this has nothing to do with the fact that I have occasionally bribed them with knits.

I was thrilled when, recently, one of my friends expressed an interest in learning how to knit. We decided on a date, and I went over armed with yarn and knitting needles. While our kids ran screaming through the house, and our husbands were absorbed in a baseball game, we made ourselves comfortable on the couch and set to work.

It went really well. My friend is a natural! By the end of the night she had knitted a few rows and was feeling confident that she could continue on her own.  I left happy, knowing that I had recruited another knitter.

Alas, my success did not last! Later that evening I received dire news, my friend’s knitting progress had come to a screeching halt. It seems that knitting enemies lurk everywhere! She sent me this photo

While she was upstairs, putting the kids to bed, their dog, obviously feeling threatened by the appearance of knitting needles and yarn, signifying yet another reason why he won’t be getting the attention he so desperately craves, decided to put an end to this initiative and chewed up her knitting needles.

He did however leave the knitting intact, which to me simply means that if nothing else, this dog at least has some respect towards the effort it takes and the work that was done!

So knitters beware, there are enemies hiding in plain sight…

Nola Jane - A Sweet little Baby Sweater

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring has finally arrived. The temperatures have been reaching the double-digits, and the snow has melted away. The birds are chirping and you can almost see the buds forming on the branches. 

Spring has arrived, and at the same time a few babies are making their debut within my circle of friends. I already introduced you to the adorable baby kimono I knitted for my niece, and now I would like to show off another baby gift.

I chose to knit the Nola Jane pattern, which I glimpsed a while back in Petite Purls Magazine. You'll have to agree with me that it’s such a cute sweater, perfect for a baby girl.

It’s a fast knit, with adorable elements thank make knitting it interesting, such as the folded hem and the crochet ruffle. The folded hem I might use myself for other projects, and the crochet ruffle, took a few attempts, but it worked out. If I were to re-knit this, I would space the purl rows a bit further apart, or maybe only make 4 rows, as I find it a little busy with the ruffles. 

But it still looks cute, I mean......newborn baby girls….you can never have enough ruffles!

I cannot wait to gift this little sweater, I am sure it’ll be loved and appreciated.

"Inversion Cardigan", a project 6 months in the making

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I have never been great at multi-tasking, at least not when it comes to my personal projects.  I have never been the one to read several books in parallel, or work on several knit-projects at the same time. 

You may think that it’s maybe a good thing, but this, can back-fire. Case in point, the project I want to show you today. I started the cardigan last fall, October according to the notes I added to Ravelry. And it was only finished recently. 

There were times, I never thought I’d finish. Why? Because except for the borders, this is all stockinette stitch. And that is in the shape of a rectangle, so no shaping whatsoever. Even though I knit as a form of therapy, I still need a little more excitement then what stockinette can offer.

But I stuck by it, and slowly the pieces came together.

Details: Inversion Cardigan Pattern by Jared Flood
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Pea Soup Mix
 Project details on my Ravelry page

If you are planning on knitting this for yourself, the most important tool to have on hand, besides patience is blocking wires. They are essential! How do I know? I don’t own any, and boy, did I regret that. Once the pattern is knitted, in order to put it together properly and to have the right shape you need to block the pieces very precisely, the 2 mirroring pieces need to be the exact same size, and the third has to match. To my surprise my knitting stretched by 7 inches once blocked, so I was grateful that the instructions mentioned not binding off until the pieces were blocked, and even more grateful that I actually followed these instructions.

Then, came the fun part! Grafting the border to the stockinette portion and then using kitchner stitch to seam the mirroring pieces together. It took me 3 evenings to finish this step of the process. Granted, I'd never used the kitchener before, so this pert was especially slow, but I did it right, and in the end, I believe it looks quite good.

I am extremely happy with the end-result, and I have worn the cardigan a few times already. It's been admired by both knitters and non-knitters alike.

All in all, this is another amazing Jared Flood pattern!

Onesie Decorating Baby-Shower

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I promised you a post about our baby-shower activity, and I am staying true to my word.

In planning the party, I was looking for something different that we could do. For the first shower we did the traditional games, and while that was fun, I knew that doing the same thing a second time around would probably elicit eye-rolls, or at least yawns.

So in researching ideas, I got to talking with one of my friends. She is a kindred spirit, a fellow crafter. She is the proud owner of a brand new Etsy shop, Lulu Belle Baby. She makes the most adorable applique onesies, you must check out her shop. 

Another thing that she puts together, are onesie decorating kits for parties such as baby showers. This is a custom package, that she tailors to the theme of the party.

How does it work? What do you actually get?

Enough fabric pieces to easily decorate about 15 onesies
Embellishments such as buttons, ribbons, pom-poms
Web fusing (it's what makes your design stick to the onesie)
Tons of templates and ideas for decorating
And of course instructions.

I bought the onesies, ( I suggest you get several sizes) and I had some fabric pens on hand as well. You need some other tools such as fabric scissors, whole punch, needle and thread, and you need an iron to actually iron on the applique’s.

We took our time paging though the examples and ideas provided, and some of us used the templates, others decided to let their imagination flow, and the result was adorable!!! My sister absolutely loves each and every creation, and we are actually planning to make some more with the leftover fabric. Everyone had a great time decorating the onesies, and I was so happy to have found an activity that everyone enjoyed, and that resulted in some wonderful keepsakes for my sister.

Now, I cannot wait to meet the new little one and see how these will look on her. I can also say that the toddlers in the house got jealous and requested some embellished t-shirts of their own, and it was so much fun that I just may have to oblige.

If any of you out there are interested in something like this, I warmly recommend you check out Lulu Belle Baby, she will create a wonderful package for you and you will have a blast!

Happy Easter

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Mommy to Bee" Party

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This weekend we celebrated the impending arrival of my sister's second baby. It was a wonderful celebration, the house filled with friends, happy to see each other and  to be able to catch up. 

We had good food, good humor and good company.

I have written before about my uncle's beekeeping hobby, and what a big part of my childhood it was. My sister was my uncle's biggest helper, she was always by his side, asking to understand what he was doing and to help. Needless to say that just like me she has a soft-spot for honey and bees.

So of course, our theme for this party guesses it! Bees!! As in "Mother to Bee" or "Baby to Bee". 

I had a lot of fun putting together decorations and researching ideas for the party. I chose a happy, yellow theme, with flowers and happily buzzing bees (not real ones of course). I set up an improvised photo-booth, for us to make silly faces, we had outfits for my sister, her daughter and the new baby, created by a very talented friend of hers, an adorable diaper cake and tons of gifts. Since this is an incredibly talented bunch of ladies, another friend made this incredible bee-hive cake which tasted as good as it looked.

In my house , no celebration is complete without a hand-knit gift, so I made this for the new baby.

Next post I have to tell you about our activity, it was the most fun thing I have done in a long time.