Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turning the Page

Happy New Year!!!

Here we go again...

A Recap from last year's resolutions:

1. I want to knit a sweater for each member of my family (yes, even me!)

I feel like this goal was mostly a success. I c ompleted a sweater for Doodlebug, Monkey and any myself. I am currently knitting the sleeves on "My Husband's Henley." For the most part, I consider this a win.

2. Next goal is to train for a 1/2 marathon this year. This is a tough one! I ran my only half in 2005 then got married and had kids and fell WAY off track.

Ha! Not even close. I haven't run at all is the past 6 months and never even did a 10K let alone a half marathon. Partly this was due to a lingering back issue that I though would relves after Doodlebug was born but now looks like it might be disc related. Having said that, I feel the best now than I have in months and it's time to get back in gear!

3. To start french lessons. Monkey is starting French preschool in September and I'm worried I won't be able to keep up!

Well, Monkey did start French school in September and I actually went to sign up for lessons in September and then realized that I would miss half of them with our trip to Australia and New Zealand. Although, I notice I still haven't signed up for this January....

A Fresh Year and a Fresh Start...

Knitting goals for 2012:

1. Yarn diet from January 1st until after our family vacation to Hawaii at the beginning of April - Yikes! (My hands are sweaty just thinking about this one.  My husband's response to this was "Shouldn't you choose something that's remotely possible?")

2. To learn to do stranded knitting while holding one colour in each hand.

3. To blog a minimum of 3 times a week and really discover whether I really have something to say.

Personal Goals

1. To go to bed by 10:30pm on weekdays

2.To plan weeknight meals in advance and cut down the amount of "ready made" food I serve.

3. To exercise at least 3 times a week

4. No more French Fries. Not one. None!

5. To start to take BOTH French and Piano lessons - interesting that I've decided to up the ante on a goal that was an epic fail last year. Even I'm kind of skeptical of this one.

6. To decide, by the end of the year, what I need to do to find joy, pride and a feeling of self worth in being a stay-at-home-mum. And if it isn't possible then to make a plan to go back to work.

Now, if you made it through all that... I have a little reward for you. Today is also my one year blogging anniversary. Yay! To celebrate I've got a little giveaway. Leave a comment before Tuesday Jan 3 at 10pm MST and I will randomly draw for one person to win:

2 skeins of Mirasol Yarn Hacho
A 100% merino DK weight yarn

What are your plans for 2012?

Cheers, Nikki

2011 in Knits

35 completed projects

2011 was a good year for knitting!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and wondrously woolly 2012.

Cheers, Nikki

Friday, December 30, 2011

FO Friday #33 - Calgary Snow

Happy Friday everyone!

I'm still enjoying the bliss of the holidays, although, I'm trying a little harder to resist the chocolate and baked goodies that linger around my house and am wondering how my house has suddenly turned into Santa's Workshop. Seriously, there are toys EVERYWHERE.

Today, I wanted to show you the last of my knitted holiday gifts. This pair of fingerless mitts I made for one of my Monkey's teachers.

Calgary Snow

Pattern: Vancouver Fog by Jen Balfour

I favourited this pattern a while ago and was happy to have an excuse to knit it. I think it produces pretty much the ideal size and shape for fingerless mitts. The pattern was very easy and straight forward.

Yarn : Berroco Vintage
Colourway: Sloe Berry 5184
50% Acrylic, 40% wool, 10% Nylon

Now, in general, it is against my religion to knit with acrylic for anything other than crafts or toys but I wanted to use a yarn that was superwash. I really don't know Monkey's teacher well and didn't want her to accidently felt the mitts. In my search for an appropriate yarn, I found Berroco Vintage. It felt great and still had a significant amount of wool content so I decided to give it a try.
It knit up great. It's lovely and soft and has wonderful stitch definition. I wouldn't shy away from using it again.

Needles: 4.0mm bamboo DPN's by Chiagoo

I am loving using wooden double pointed needles for mittens with cables.

I didn't make any modifications on this one. I knit the pattern as written and am happy with the result. I hope Mme. J is too : )

Well, that's it. The last FO Friday for 2011. Check out Tami's Amis to see what everyone has finished up for the end of the year.

Januare 1st will mark the one year anniversary of this blog! Be sure to to check back as I take stock of 2011 and make plans for 2012... and perhaps have a wee giveaway!

Happy New Year's!

Cheers, Nikki

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wedesnday # 45 - Too Tired for Wit

Happy Wednesday everyone.

I hope the holidays were good to you. We had a fantastic Christmas at my parents in Vancouver. It was full of kids and chaos but it kind of felt like it's supposed to be that way.
I haven't go a whole lot to show this week but not because I haven't been knitting. I actually got sidelined and started and finished a charity project for my mum which I will show you in a couple weeks.

I did get a chance to finished the body of My Husband's Henley. Now that it's off the needles, he has finally properly tried it on. It has a roomy fit right now but I am still plagued by doubts that it's growing to grow enormously the first time it's washed. My husband will not hear of me frogging it, so I guess it's onwards and upwards... to the sleeves next. (I have read the Techknitter's post about serging side seams into a too big sweater, so I'm keeping that as a last-resort-back-up plan.)

How is that for one hell of a crappy phone pic?
I can't say I feel well rested after the holidays but I guess you can't win them all ; )  I have the perfect illustration of how I'm feeling. Here's my Monkey at the end of a long Christmas day:

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
We head back home today, so I will be able to bring you a proper FO post on Friday. In the meantime, I'm excited to see what Tami's been up to now that she's back from her trip.

Cheers, Nikki

Saturday, December 24, 2011

FO Friday #32 - Maddening Mitts

Happy Friday everybody!

I am sending this post from my little netbook, while I am in Vancouver. I'm sorry if anything looks wrong with today's blog, the layout on this computer is a little strange.

I'm sharing today's project with very mixed feelings about it. Never before has project made me so crazy. It took me no fewer than 8! attempts to knit these mittens. I have never had so many issues with guage in my life! Having said that, I absolutely LOVE the finished results and had a very hard time giving this project away.

Maddening Mitts

Pattern: Susie's Reading Mitts by Dancing Ewe Yarns

I found this pattern a while ago and while it was free on Ravelry, there was some question of who owned the rights to the pattern. I have started trying to save a copy of free patterns I'd like to my rav library just in case the pattern is discontinued or has a fee added by the time I cast on. Fortunately, I saved a copy of this pattern because it was removed as a download last week. If you are interested in it, you can still get it through the Wayback Machine via the link on this page.

DK / 8 ply
Colourway: Oceania
I seriously loved knitting with this yarn. The colour is gorgeous. The yarn has a lovely halo. It can be a little splitty and is not perhaps the softest yarn on the planet, but I would (and will) use it again in a heartbeat.

I love these needles. They are faster to knit with than bamboo but not slippery like metal. Perfect for knitting in the round.

The only good thing about knitting something 8 times is that by the time you get it finished you really know how you want the pattern to go. I made several changes:
  1. Used a provisional cast on and a 3 needle join to create the picot edge at the cuffs.
  2. Cast on 36 stitches and decreased to 32 with 3.5mm needles to make women's small/medium mittens ( the pattern says to cast on 48 with 3.75mm needles!)
  3. Only knit 3 inches length from the edge to the start of the gusset. (Instead of the 5 inches suggested by the pattern... although I did the 5 inches on mitt attempt #7 and had to rip back)
  4. picked up 3 stitches instead of 1 for thumb
  5. Did not cast off at the top of the mitt and instead seamed the lived stitches to create the top picot.

In the end, I absolutely adored the finished project... but what a journey to get there!

I received this card from my Aunt in England.
It is from the MS society.
Isn't it wonderful?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.
I hope your days are full of peace, light and love.

Cheers, Nikki

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WIP Wednesday #44 - Countdown

Happy Wednesday everyone!!

Just a quick post today as I'm about to catch a flight home to Vancouver for the holidays and the last minute chaotic countdown is on.

I am back at The Sweater but have nothing picture worthy to show you. I am only taking it and one itty bitty side project with me on my trip so hopefully next week I will have tons of progress to show. I am over being stressed that it's too big. I just want to get it finished and move on!

Besides the sweater, there are plenty of WIP's going on at our house.

Not sure how Santa does so well with his elves,
everything seems to take twice as long with my little helpers.
Of course, I am able to get on with the sweater because I have finished the last of this years knitted gifts. I hope you will come back on Friday for a peak.

I've been meaning to show you these cute cards my friend had made for me for my birthday. She designed them through Zazzle. I love that there is a picture of my knitting on them. I've included one with each knitted gift this Christmas. Such a great idea!

I'm looking forward to deciding what my post-christmas-and-sweater project will be. Something fun... and for me : ) I'll definitely be heading over to Tami's Amis to check out what everyone else is up to for a little inspiration!

Cheers, Nikki

Friday, December 16, 2011

FO Friday # - A River to Skate On

Happy Friday everyone.

Boy, the countdown is really in now! I spent yesterday evening casting on 4! times for fingerless mittens for one of my Monkeys' teachers. First, they were too small, then too big, then I didn't like the yarn.. grrrr. So frustrating!

Which is why I am especially happy to show you a project that makes me happy with the way it turned out. I made these mittens for a friend of mine who probably won't get a lot of presents for Christmas. I hope she likes them as much as I do!

A River to Skate On

Pattern: Clepsydra Mittens by Kristen Kapur

This is a very well written a pattern with the option of knitting by written row or by chart. I think that if you haven't made mittens before the decrease instructions for the top could be a little confusing since it doesn't actually say to decrease on the stockinette side as you decrease on the cable side. Other than that small detail it's great. Starting with the cabled icord edging was a little daunting but very cool and not really all that hard.

I found this pattern a lot of fun to knit. I did make some mistakes. All the knit stitches on the cable side are into the back loop and it took me some time to realize I was putting the stitches on the needle wrong any time I tinked backwards. But hey - they're handmade. They're supposed to be unique!

Kristen has written lots of patterns for mittens. I'm pretty keen to try her Wood Hollow mittens too (not to mention her Ziggity shawl!)

This is of course not my first (nor my last) time using Ultra Alpaca. I love this yarn for hats and mitts and scarfs... ect. I think it's great value for money. It comes in fabulous colours. And it is so warm! I have heard that it has the tendency to grow in large garments (that would be the Alpaca part) but I certainly haven't had any issue the few times I have used it.

Needles: Chicagoo 4mm bamboo DPN's

With all the cabling, bamboo needles were a must!


I used ChocolateChai's notes for the decreasing at the top. She started about 8 rows before the pattern. Otherwise these mitts would have been WAY too long.

Sorry for the poor action shot, I was in a crazy rush!
These mittens are already under my friend's tree. Today is Monkeys' first school concert - so fun! But later, when I'm procrastinating about knitting this year's final set of mittens, I'm definitely going to check out everyone's finished projects over through Tami's Amis.

Hope everyone has a magical wintery (or not for you southern hemisphere types) holiday (or not if that's not your thing) weekend (or not if you working). You know what I mean.

Cheers, Nikki

I did this cross stitch years ago.
It has stood up really well to the test of time.
And it still makes me smile :  )

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday #43 - It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas? Chaos? It's kind of hard to tell these days...

Happy Wednesday everyone. I had a post all planned for Monday but the business of the season is finally catching up with me.

I am behind on just about everything, including my knitting, of course. I have until next Wednesday to finish two pairs of fingerless mitts for my Monkey's preschool teachers. At this point, I have finished about 1 and 1/5. I think this is still a doable goal provided the second pattern doesn't throw me for any unexpected loops.

For the first pair, I am using Berroco Vintage to knit the pattern Vancouver Fog. So far so good.

I finished my Clepsydra Mittens last Friday but not in time to post. I will be showing off their completed prettiness this Friday.

Sweater? What sweater??

Cheers, Nikki

I'm sure there are more links to fibre-induced Christmas craziness or holiday hari-kari...ness? over at Tami's blog. Surely it can't just be me who's feeling this way. Can it?

I just heard today that apparently Christmas trees aren't "in" this year.
Can't say it is the first time I'm out of style ; )

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday #42 - Christmas Craziness

Happy Wednesday everyone.

I know what you're thinking...

"You can't fool me with a pretty Christmas shot... I can see that mitten is not much bigger than last week!"

The good news is that that is mitten number two!

And now that I have taken the effort to colour code the cable chart maybe this one will go a little faster.

Am I delusional to think I could have them finished in time for FO Friday?

Perhaps since I just found a mistake 5 rows back... for the second time tonight : (

Check out everyone who is actually putting the P into Progress over at Tami's Amis and Other Creations.

Cheers, Nikki

* note: this is the second week in a row I have not shown you evidence of any progress on The Sweater

** this is not a good thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Whatever the Mood Monday

Well let's get straight to it...

Custom Random Number generator

This program will generate a random number between two numbers of your choice.
Enter a lower limit: 
Enter an upper limit: 
Random Number:

That makes the winner of my first giveaway:

Chrisknits said... Best Blogger Tips
The blanket is darling! Too bad I have already knit all the baby blankets I need right now. Enter me in the contest. That yarn is gorgeous!
I saw them at The Bay if anyone is interested

Friday, December 2, 2011

FO Friday #30 - Old for New... plus a giveaway!

Happy Friday everyone. Welcome to my 100th post!!

I'm really excited about this FO. It had definitely been one my bigger projects of the year and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Old for New

Designer: Kristen Rengren

I really really love this pattern. It is based on a 1940's design for a baby blanket. I borrowed the Vintage Baby Knits book from my local library and it has some really great looking patterns in it. It has been added to my knitting book wish list.

The pattern is quite clever because the honeycomb texture is achieved through slipped stitches and you never have to knit with more than one colour at a time. To top it off, the edging is designed to curl so you can carry your colours up the side and avoid weaving in 70 quadrillion ends (really! I counted!)

Want to see the back?

100% cotton 
DK weight

The original pattern calls for a worsted weight cotton. I couldn't find a cotton or colours I like in a worsted weight.  I doubled up the DK making something of a bulky yarn. I love the look with the thicker yarn. 
I was a little worried about knitting with cotton on such a big project but I found this yarn to be lovely to work with. It clearly isn't elastic like wool but it didn't feel stiff at all.

I used 6.5 skeins of green & 5.5 of the white with 6mm needles for my project.

I swatched and adjusted the number of stitches for the more bulky yarn. The pattern called for 14 repeat and I also needed to do 11. Other than that I followed the pattern exactly.  My finished project is slightly smaller than the pattern calls for but still plenty big enough for a baby's blanket.

I loved both the process of knitting this blanket and how it turned out. I would definitely consider making another one one day. This is the first time my baby gift has been finished before the baby! He/she was due yesterday but has yet to make their appearance : )

Now for the thing you have all be waiting for...
In celebration of my 100th post, it's time for my first giveaway!

I have a lovely skein of DK Superwash from a Canadian indie dyer ( that I'm begrudgingly  just barely willing to part with.

Would you like to take me home?
All you have to do is leave a comment by the end of the day on Sunday. Please include contact information (such as an email address or Ravelry ID or twitter account). I will figure out how to use the random number generator thingy to pick a winner and I will announce the winner on Monday! I'm happy to post anywhere worldwide so please feel free to enter.

While you are waiting to see if you won, why not head over to Tami's blog and see some more fabulous FO's?

Cheers, Nikki