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An Afghan for the Big E

We woke up to snow.  The kids are happy about it and I don’t even mind that much – but this photo of roses from Costco made me smile so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it matches the afghan.


Anyways – we sometimes call  my father -in-law the Big E.  He recently changed his living situations and in lieu of trying to tell him how much we all care and how we think and worry about him, I turned to what many would turn to: yarn*.

I decided to make him an afghan.  The colour choices were predicated both by his room decor and his favorite hockey team**; the fiber was chosen because of the anticipated laundering techniques.  And it’s a crochet blanket because for some reason, blankets are better if they are crochet.***

I started off using Fireworks Blanket by Becky Simmons.  As usual, I am bad at following patterns,  so it became more of a guideline for me.  That is purely a reflection of me – the pattern was well written and clear and it’s a clever way to make a granny square really engaging.  I used Uptown Acrylic Worsted, and it’s a very fine yarn, for something that is acrylic and meant to be machine washed and dried.


I was making excellent progress, and actually almost finished, when I noticed something.  I had borked a notch; about three rounds back I’d forgotten one decrease.  Now, I rip back work merrily all the time, but I was at the point in the blanket where a couple rounds of used a whole ball of yarn.  The picture above is what was SUPPOSED to happen, and did actually happen in three out of four spots.  The two pictures below are what was actually going on in that one darn spot.

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I decided to try to fix it without frogging the whole darn think.  So, armed with time (Z___ had an ortho appointment) & my Swiss Army knife (which I actually got in Switzerland), I cautiously snipped and reworked and wove ends in. IMG_8877 IMG_8878

First, I nipped the thread and unwound a certain amount of that row.  Then I did the same for the next row, and the next, until I was back to before the spot where I’d missed the decrease.


Note the three little balls of yarn, and the staggered missing rows.  I reworked the rows in order, tied a solid knot between the sections of each row, and wove in the ends.


I don’t know if this is actually the way to do things with crochet – but it seemed to make sense.  And the big knot seemed right because crochet is really just a series of knots, anyways.  I’m really much more of a knitter.


Ta-dah!  It took less than an hour – and that’s much less time that it would have to rip it all back and rework it.  If you know what you are looking for and you are actually holding the blanket in your hands, you can tell it’s there, but for the muggle or everyday use, it’s not noticeable.


The finished blanket is about six feet square – I was aiming for something nice to snuggle under while sitting in a chair.  The Big E was a tad confused but pleased by the gift, and I hope he’s using it today while it snows.


(This is a sort of terrible finished object picture – it doesn’t show the blanket off to it’s best.  And it’s before I’d washed and dried and washed and then hung it dry – the shape has properly flattened out and all the joins held.)

I’m off to the gym – I’ve already shovelled the driveway but my fair weather habit of exercise should carry into the winter work-out, right?


*“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” – Elizabeth Zimmerman

**The Edmonton Oilers.  I found it funny watching Calgarians admire the afghan in progress, and then recoil when they realized it was the OILERS.

***Totally irrational.  Also, not always true, I made a lovely knitted blanket once.  Godzilla vs. Evenstar

The Derp Is Strong With This One

Well, I’ve been at this for over an hour… so if you are wondering about the person with the derp, it’s me.  I’m attempting to blog via my ipad. All three kids are at school and the only sound in the house other than the ticking clock and the ringing in my ears is one of the cats, deciding that he is a FIERCE and WILD CREATURE.

And the occasional person at the door, buying something from one of my kjiji ads.  It’s been a busy summer – and there was a sort of spontaneous project where we moved Z down into the basement bedroom, so A & E each have their own rooms too.

This process was complicated by the fact that the basement bedroom was not only the spare bedroom, it was where I stored everything.  Almost everything.  Many many things.  And I decided to put in new laminate flooring, as that room was the only one left that had carpet from the original owners (who had dogs).  The flooring went well, as did the big swap; but one room of my house is utterly crammed full of random things I need to sort through and then rehome.

That’s going to take a little while.  The glorious thing is that the littles now have all-day school – so I have all day, every (school) day, to make a mess and then deal with it.  Instead of making a mess, checking on the littles, working on the mess, feeding the littles, coming back to the mess to find out that the littles decided to help… etc.

I was hoping to post some photos in this post – I derped a crochet project pretty badly, but then I sort of ninja-ed my way out of it.  I’ve also made pie and invented the Saltimboca Roast – also known as the Saltimroasta.  Sadly, the updated wordpress app won’t let me load pictures*, so that will have to wait for another day.

I’m also waiting for it to warm up enough that I can go rearrange the garage without needing mittens.

Ooo, mittens.  I have a terrific idea for some mittens…. On that happy note, I’m going to press ‘publish’ and see what happens.  Hopefully photos next time!

*Seriously.  I have a smart phone and an ipad and a laptop; why is it still only possible for me to upload photos by emailing them from my phone to my laptop?  There’s a cloud!  There should be an easier way!**

**Every single attempt to find an easier way has taken at least 47 minutes and been varying levels of unsuccessful. 

And Now For Something Completely Different

I’ve had a couple different queries about my designing lately.  I’m still designing – there’s been a long gap in publishing things because life is busy right now.  The quiet may last into the fall; and that’s just how things go sometimes.  I’m well, I’m busy, I’m still knitting all the time.

In lieu of knitted projects*, here’s something I did this morning.

I’ve been looking for a piece of art for the bathroom; specifically something to hang above the tub.  The man and I are both frequently enjoy tubs, and while he reads a lot in the tub, I like to just float.  There’s a bare wall I look at that  has been crying out for something since we finished the reno a couple years ago.

I gave up on finding the “RIGHT” thing and instead bought a beautiful piece of paper at Mona Lisa Art Supply here in Calgary.  It’s a tad heavier than tissue paper, but not as heavy as ordinary paper.  Then I ironed fusible interfacing on to the back of the paper, stretched it, and hung it up.


This is the paper with the fusible interfacing; I used a fairly heavy interfacing that’s typically used in suit jackets.  It’s what I had; I don’t think woven or non-woven would have made a difference.  I just wanted fusible.  The interfacing adds some substance to the paper – it was quite filmy before; now it looks the same but has a much more stable hand.  I did use steam when I ironed the interfacing; I used a press cloth to protect the ironing board in case the ink was affected by the steam at all.  (No problems from the paper at all.  Still glad I erred on the side of caution.)


This is the paper with the frame (which I got from Ikea ages ago).  Turns out, it’s square.  Huh.  I thought it was a rectangle, but I don’t care enough to McGuyver it into  different shape or go buy another frame from somewhere.  Lucky it’s just wide enough to wrap or I’d have had to put this back into the “I’m Working On It” pile.**


I carefully nailed the paper into place; I started with one nail in the center of each edge then worked my way outward.


The corners weren’t challenging at all – I think without the interfacing I may have worried about tearing the paper but with the interfacing I had no problems.


(I tried to photograph how I did the fold/pleat/fasten, but Ikea does it better.)


Here’s the finished item, just waiting to be hung up.  It’s like this project was meant to be – I can’t believe that the paper and the interfacing and the frame were all the perfect size to work together with minimal trimming.


And here it is in place – I know that it looks like it’s hung a bit too high when you look at it from eye level, but from the tub I think it’s just right.  I also think a rectangle would have been a better shape, but eh.  I may find the perfect piece of humidity-resistant art; I may buy another piece of $8 paper and a different frame shape; any number of things could happen!  For now, I’m pleased with it.  Orange is my favorite colour – and as luck has it, the goldfish plant that hangs in the bathroom is blooming right now.


Lovely! I’m going to have a tub tonight for sure :)

*I hate to share pictures of knitting before they are DONE-done, you know?

**The “I’m Working On It” pile is not an oubliette, but it’s close.

Aloha <3

Oh, how I love Maui.  The energy there, the sun, the water, the whales and sea turtles… Also the complete lack of snow.

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(This is in a lava field near a beach – all the white rocks are coral.)

We recently spent a week and a half in Maui.  It was even better than I thought it might be – turns out that travelling with a five and seven year old is infinitely easier than travelling with a five month old and a two year old.  The lack of diapers and regular nap time and the addition of some basic self-preservation and reasoning skills really makes a difference!

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I don’t know how many times during the holiday someone asked where we were from.  “Canada?  There are sure a lot of Canadians here!”  Yes, we have winter.  Winter like winter really means it.

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People from San Diego and San Francisco do indeed have winter, I’m sure.  I’m also pretty sure that it’s an unpleasant cold, not a murderous cold.  You know, the kind of cold that will kill you if you go out without “appropriate clothing*”.  I really hope that I didn’t offend either of the lovely Californian women I was chatting with; I did manage not to burst into hysterical laughter and that will have to make up for whatever look was on my face as they were assuring me that it really does get cold at home.

I didn’t get as much knitting done on holiday as I have in the past – partially because the kids no longer need naptime, and partially because I mis-planned my holiday knitting.  I’ve been working on a large worsted shawl and I want to finish it, so I brought that along to be my primary knitting project.  I was hoping that I’d get it done, because it’s sort of mindless knitting.  It’s a large project, but I figured that would be okay.

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(There was the odd nap, I admit…)

It turns out that I could deal with the large project in my lap, but I had a hard time with the yarn.  You see, it’s a wool/silk/camel blend, and I’m using an undyed version.  Turns out when the undyed yarn gets even a little damp, it smells like a dirty, wet camel**.

Wet camel stench is an effective de-motivator, who knew?  I’m not concerned in the long run; I’ve wet-blocked this yarn when its dyed, and never noticed the camel stink, so I may need to wash the shawl a couple times but I’m sure it’ll all turn out well in the end.  I’m not done the shawl, but I think it’s safe to assume that my couch is not prone to rogue waves so I’ll keep plugging along at it.

…and I’ll end with another gratuitous holiday photo.

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*Parka, snow pants, hat, mittens, scarf; plus possibly long underwear and two or three pairs of socks.

**I’ve never smelled a wet camel but I have smelled dry camels and that was enough that I can infer that they would smell BAD when wet.

Things That Make Not-Okay Things Sort of Vaguely Okay

Do you get that?  You know how sometimes there are things in your world that aren’t okay, but sometimes there are other things that make the original not-okay thing a little teeny bit okay?  I was reflecting on those things the other day.

Item the First:  Winter

I mean okay, I live in Calgary, where there is winter.  I accept that there is winter (but I don’t like it much, most of the time).  Some of the things that make winter slightly more okay are hand knit mittens, hot chocolate, twinkle lights, and hoar frost*.

E___ made me smile yesterday morning as she was muddling through the piles of coats.  “Is it minus-ice-cube outside?”, she asked.  Yes, it was minus-ice-cube, and she did indeed need to wear her winter coat.

Item the Second: Head Colds

There is nothing to like about a head cold.  Except that it is NOT as bad a migraine, and I just got two new bottles of OTC cold medication.  (DayQuil and NyQuil, hurray!!)

Item the Third: Cleaning The House

I’m not a huge fan of cleaning and anyone who knows me can tell that a) I have a clutter tendency and b) I also have object blindness when it comes to knitting.  I really, really have to concentrate to recognize both clutter and knitting projects.  I think it’s perfectly normal to have a sweater project on the piano, socks to knit by the leather chair, socks to darn on the other side of the leather chair, and a lace project in a bag on the coffee table.  Isn’t that how everyone’s living room looks?

I try and defuse my irritation with housecleaning by reframing it as “creating a warm and loving home for my family”.  I also think: hey, I have a house that I can afford to live in and heat.  Also, I pick my battles.  The bathrooms are clean but the mantle is dusty.  I do dishes once a day – after supper.  If people** don’t like it, then they can dust or do dishes themselves.


If I had a dollar for every morning this school year that has taken place with neither of the littles saying “I don’t want to go to school” I’d be able to buy you and I each a Starbucks coffee.  I swear.  They use the same line, I use the same line.  I have never, not ever!, said “Yeah, you present a good case.  You can stay home and watch Netflix.  Why not?”  I’ve never said “Keep trying, someday I’ll say ‘yeah school is not worth it’.”

Some conflict is to be expected when two small not-morning people are confronted by another not-morning person in the morning.  Despite that, I’m still glad because I live in a place where my (girl) children can be safely educated.  They can learn and become anything.

Item the Fifth: Pine Needles In My Socks

Now, pine needles in my socks are irritating.  But they fell off of our Xmas tree, so I feel sort of okay about them.

And what a lovely segue for me to sign off and go and vacuum the pine needles up.  Our tree is doing quite well, but he is (as always) shedding needles.

Hope that you are snug and warm with people you love as we all approach the darkest day of the year.


 **The man is the only person who has ever done dishes or dusted or started vacuuming.  When he does, I make a specific parenting choice and continue doing whatever I’m doing so that the girls see that men clean too, it’s not just the mom’s job.  (And if a man is cleaning, there is no need for the woman of the house to begin racing around to try and out-clean him.)

The Model In The House…

If you persevered and watched the Mrs Whatsit video, you would have noticed the guest star.  Mr. Tiberius Kittenbritches, aka Britches, is usually in the middle of any action in the house.

Or he’s asleep.  He is a cat, after all.

I got home the other night, and both girls were just exploding in gales of laughter.  Turns out, they had decided to dress Britches up in the teddy bear clothes.

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That’s a wedding veil and a pony cape.  Now, I figured that he would bolt as soon as possible, but no.

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Then they dressed him up in a toque and a dress.  He doesn’t really look like he’s having fun, but he wasn’t hissing or fighting or even doing the boneless flop of passive resistance.

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Once they got to the third costume change, though, I had to intervene.  I didn’t know if his catly dignity would survive!  I mean he is a kitten, but there’s only so much indignity one beast can handle.

After I put the kids to bed, I had to snuggle with him for forty-five minutes before he got that hunted look off his face.  Poor guy… I’ve since established “No Dressing The Cat Up” rules, although really.  It was pretty funny…

(If you don’t have cats or aren’t really familiar with them, you won’t understand how astonishing it was that the girls got THREE costume changes on him with absolutely no blood shed.  Trust me.  It’s extraordinary.)

I Think I Found A Tube…

So I think this might work better – I took another run at YouTube.

Blocking Mrs Whatsit

Or maybe not.  I am only amused by the “Royal Banana” music so long.  I promise the next blog post will be about something different!




And Now For An Educational Experiment…

I like blocking things.  I need to be in the right frame of mind, of course, and not rushed at all, but it’s very pleasing to see the transformation.

On a whim, I used an app for making stop motion animation movies to record Mrs Whatsit’s blocking process, and with luck, it will work for you to watch…


It’s only a couple minutes long, and there’s a surprise whiskered guest star, too.  Drop me a note if you can’t download it; I tried to set up a youtube account but I am apparently meant to remain tubeless.

(Re-)Introducing Mrs Whatsit

Yes, at long last, Mrs Whatsit is back!  As usual, the pattern is available through my Ravelry store for $6.00USD:


What’s that?  You don’t remember Mrs Whatsit?  Well, it was originally published in January of 2011, by Sanguine Gryphon.  The rights reverted to me some time ago, but I wanted to rework the charts and re-knit it and, well, life intervened.*  I ended up not doing the re-knit – my amazing test knitter did the knitting, and as always, her work** increases the quality of my patterns.

The instructions are fully written and charted out, and you can cross reference between the two.  I’ve also included construction and blocking schematics.

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I chose a new yarn weight for this re-release; I decided on the delicious Mondegreen by Verdant Gryphon.  It’s currently on a hiatus so they can carry a couple other bases***, but I happily stocked up some time ago.  You can use any worsted weight, although it really will shine (hyuck) with a blend featuring some silk.

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Yes, I look smug about that terrible pun; forgive me.

Mrs Whatsit is a character in a book from my childhood.  She is an angel disguised as a tramp: “It seemed small for Meg’s idea of a tramp… it was completely bundled up in clothes. Several scarves of assorted colors were tied about the head, and… A shocking pink stole was knotted about a rough overcoat, and black rubber boots covered the feet.”  She transforms to show “…a pair of wings…made of rainbows, of light upon water, of poetry.”  A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L’Engle. 

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I think here, you can see the idea of wings spreading.  The construction is unusual – you begin at the nape and knit out, much like a neck-down shawl.  When the shoulder depth is reached, the center portion is bound off, and each ‘wing’ is worked outward separately.  Due to the nature of the increases & decreases, the only place markers are used in this pattern are to note the BO’s of the Center Panel. 

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The piece looks quite large here, but because of the lines of yarnovers, it happily wraps around your neck to act as a scarf as well as a stole.

I hope you’re as glad to see Mrs Whatsit back as I am – again, the pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $6.00USD.

*This also explains the pause since my last pattern publication.
**All mistakes are all mine, as always.
***Yes.  I’ve been working at this for a while.  Trust me, if you can find Mondegreen you will be so happy…  Think it looks familiar?  It’s the same yarn that I used for His Golden Lair… http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/his-golden-lair

Family Changes, Part Three

This is the blog post I haven’t wanted to write.  Spoiler alert – sad news ahead; don’t read this, expecting a miraculous recovery.

My goofy, sweet, funny buddy is gone.

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I’d taken Suki and Mr. Kittenbritches to the vet for an annual & newcat checkup.  They were both healthy and fine – well, Suki hissed at the vet, but par for the course.  They each gobbled up their soft cat food reward when we got home.

The next day was a busy day; and after supper when Suki and I usually have some quality couch time, I had to go find him.  He was hiding in the basement.

“Oh dear…” I thought.

Saturday morning, I woke up and checked on him.  He was still hiding and unhappy.  So I got him a last-minute appointment with the vet.

She confirmed that he was indeed very sick, and she thought she could feel mass in his abdomen.  So Suki and I drove down to the vet hospital.

We still don’t know what happened to him – it wasn’t liver or kidney failure (had bloodwork done).  It wasn’t any kind of abdominal obstruction (they did xrays and an ultrasound too).  He wasn’t responding to the drugs they’d put him on, and on Tuesday, when the vet called and told me that they’d discovered one of his lungs was obstructed by fluid from pneumonia, I broke down weeping at the second hand store (where I was shopping for Halloween stuff).  I wasn’t willing to entertain intubating him, or scanning his brain for lesions, or more than another semester’s worth of tuition in vet fees.  The man and I have had frank conversations about DNR orders for each other; but it seemed so much harder to think about and arrange euthanasia for my buddy.

They put Suki on oxygen and kept him comfortable for the rest of the day, and after all of the day’s other commitments were met or arranged around (kids, school, dance class, etc), I drove down to the hospital again to be with him as he left.  The man had left for a work trip Saturday morning, and I’m glad that mom was around to help and lean on.

I was (and am) surprised by how much I miss Suki, and how much it makes me cry.  He was my companion for thirteen years , and was with me through a lot of tough times.  I think some of my sadness is from reflecting on the nature of life – we spend so much time, trying not to be alone, and then ultimately? We will either leave first, or be left.  I’m sure there are all sorts of deep poetic quotes I could use here, but really, all I can say is that is as long as Suki was in my life, he was well loved.

And that’s what I’m trying to do – is to love everyone in my life as well as I can, as long as I can.


Good bye, buddy.