Monday, May 16, 2016

Win Some, Lose Some

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about a failed project I had just finished knitting. The comments it generated were very interesting. They ranged from those of you who agreed with me and thought the sweater was not one of my better knits, to those who thought it looked great and encouraged me to keep and wear it. There were also several people who thought that while the sweater was fine, if I didn't like it I should go ahead and take it to the thrift store so someone else could buy it and enjoy wearing it.

I most likely will be taking it to the thrift store, as I just can't see myself bothering to wear it when I have so many other sweaters. I already have a few sweaters that are worn and pilled enough to qualify as part of my dog walking wardrobe. The difference between them and this latest one is I actually like the others, even though they are rather worn and tattered. They are the ones I'm going to grab when I go for a hike, sit by the campfire, or take Fergus for a walk.

There is a deeper issue I wanted to talk about after that post, and it is about risk taking. I'm not the kind of person that wants to take any kind of risk with money, my health, or any other Very Important life scenario. But when it comes to things that don't fall into those categories I am just the opposite. Knitting is one of those things. I don't mind having the occasional failure (although I was a little sore about having special ordered that zipper and spending all those hours sewing the blasted thing in). I think failure is part of the learning process. If I hadn't ever been willing to risk trying a new technique I would still be knitting dish cloths and nothing else.

I feel much the same about sewing. I started out as a complete rookie, and would now probably classify myself as an advanced rookie. I make tons of mistakes, and probably log more time with my seam ripper than I do my sewing machine. Which is why, when I ran across the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern back in early April, I should have simply bookmarked them for some point in the distant future when my seam ripper and I aren't so well acquainted. But hey, I'm a risk taker, and before I knew it I had ordered some lovely denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts, who also happened to be hosting a sewalong for the jeans.

I went into sewing the Ginger Jeans knowing there was almost no chance they would turn out. And I was okay with that. I figured I would learn from the experience, and even if I didn't have a pair of jeans at the end I would have picked up some valuable sewing skills. Maybe even enough new skills that a second attempt would turn out. But then the most surprising thing happened. They did turn out. There's a part of me that still can't believe it.

My shirt is the Wiksten Tank 

They were definitely a challenge.

They also took me a long time to make. A month from start to finish. But I was okay with that. Knitting has taught me to be patient and not expect instant results.

I never could have succeeded without the Internet. It was very helpful to look at blogs and tutorials from those who had already made these jeans.

One of the fun things was being able to personalize them. Instead of plain fabric to line the pockets and waistband I chose a bright floral design.

They aren't perfect. Far from it as a matter of fact. My topstitching around the waistband wasn't the greatest. And when I put in the rivets at the side I hammered so hard I rubbed the copper colour off the middle of the rivet. But in spite of their small imperfections they are the best fitting jeans I have ever owned. I know there will be many more sewing fails in my future, and that my next pair of jeans might not turn out as well as these did. And I'm okay with that. For me it is not just about the finished product. The journey to get there is every bit as important as the end result.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Are you a product or a process crafter? Do you like to take risks and try new techniques, or does that take the enjoyment out of the process for you?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Home Again

Before I get to the topic of today's post I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful comments on my last post about the failed sweater. There is much more that I would like to say about it, so will come back to it next time. Also, you might be wondering where I have been as I don't usually let so much time pass between posts. Several wonderful days have been spent in Victoria meeting my new grandson, and the rest of the time I have been immersed in a project. More on the project in the next post, and for now, on to Oliver.

There is something so incredibly special and delightful about a newborn baby - the tender skin, the soft hair, the way they snuggle in as you hold them, and perhaps most of all that realization that this is just a little sliver of time in their life. If you blink your eyes a few times they are suddenly toddlers, wanting to play doctor and have all their fingers covered in bandages.

Those little legs and arms grow bigger at an amazing rate.

And before you know it instead of being stretched out in a bassinet they are lying on the beach making a sand angel.

Newborns have a special way of tugging at your heart.

But then again, so do toddlers.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 30, 2016


For those of you who aren't on Ravelry let me explain what an UGH is. When you post a project on Ravelry you can rate it. The lowest happiness rating is called an UGH. These projects are ones that didn't live up to their knitter's expectations in a major way. Some of them are hilarious. Socks that two feet could fit into, a onesie knit for a boyfriend that didn't quite work out, a mismatch of yarn and project, a pattern that was riddled with errors, for these reasons and many more a project can end up with this label.

Now I need to go back in time, about eight years if my memory is correct. I started knitting a sweater called Ribby Cardi. Looking back I'm not sure exactly why I started knitting this sweater. It has all the elements of a sweater that usually have me running for the hills trying to get far, far away from it. It is knit in five separate pieces, meaning there are five pieces to sew together. In this case they aren't just sleeves, they are raglan sleeves meaning there is a lot more seaming required than usual. Plus, and here is the real deal killer, this sweater has a zipper that needs to be sewn in. I despise sewing in zippers. Not only did I start knitting a sweater that had finishing details that would make a trip to the dentist for a root canal look like a more pleasant way to spend one's time, I had purchased cheap yarn to knit it with.

All of this meant that after knitting both fronts, the back and one sleeve I stuffed it in a bag and shoved it to the very back of a closet. Because if I finished that second sleeve I would then be faced with all of that finishing work I so despise. Fast forward to this spring. I was listening to a Knit British podcast and Louise made the wise suggestion to go through your stash and look at your unfinished projects. Then make a decision. Either rip it out or finish it. Those of you who aren't knitters might think this would be obvious, but to those of us who are knitters, well, I guess you could say we live in a state of unwarranted optimism as far as our projects go.

So I started thinking about that sad, neglected Ribby Cardi crumpled in a heap at the back of my craft closet. I eventually pulled it out and gave it some long, hard thought. In the end I decided to finish it. After all, it was almost done. Well, at least the knitting portion. And I did like the look of the sweater. And I don't own a single cardigan. Like so many other dreaded tasks, finishing the second sleeve wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. In a few short nights it was complete and I was feeling pretty good about my knitterly self.

Those feelings did not last. I will spare you the trials and tribulations of trying to find a matching two-way zipper, which resulted in an order to an online zipper store. And I won't bore you with the details of installing that zipper. After all, there's not much of interest that can be said about FIVE hours of my life spent inserting the stupid thing. Which, I should add, looks like a five year old did it. Nor will I go on about sewing in raglan sleeves. I will leave it at this. Never. Again.

Of course, it all would have been worth it had I been left with something that was wearable.

 It doesn't look bad from the side.

It's passable from the back.

But from the front, all I have to say is UGH. I have a category of my wardrobe, much larger than it probably should be, that I think of as my dog walking clothes. This doesn't even qualify for that. It's going directly to the thrift shop, and I will just have to accept the fact all those hours of seaming and putting in that blasted zipper are hours of my life I will never get back.

Happily, there have also been some non-UGH things this past week. Alexandra and Josh came down for a visit.

And Rebekah and Ella were out his week for a few days while Anton was in San Francisco for work.

Some goslings have hatched down at the pond.

And now I am heading to Victoria to meet my new grandson Oliver, and to see my sweet Lucy. I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hello Oliver!

Oliver Changyi Hammond was born Monday morning, and we are all so excited! Both Diana and the baby are doing well, and were able to go home from the hospital Tuesday.

Diana had the great idea of getting a baby doll for Lucy as a gift from her new brother Oliver.

As much as she loves the baby doll I think she is even more taken with the real thing!

I especially love this picture. The red blanket was Diana's when she was a baby. They used it when Lucy came home from the hospital, and now it is being used for Oliver. I don't think Diana has many keepsakes from her childhood in China, which makes it that much more special.

Lucy is right there, wanting to help out at every opportunity.

They've already gone for an outing to the beach. I can't believe how great Diana looks just a few days after giving birth. I plan to go meet Oliver next week, and, as you might guess, I can hardly wait!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Sundries

:: I did the latest update on my Macbook yesterday, and when I went to write this post I discovered I could no longer open my Photos application. That meant I had to email myself the pictures I wanted for this post and then open them on my desktop to be able to access them.

:: I have started using Bloglovin, and for the most part I really like it. However, there is one fairly major problem with it. Every time I leave a comment on a blog now I get one of those emails telling me my email couldn't be delivered. I have no idea why this is happening since I am not sending an email. If anyone who uses Bloglovin has encountered this problem and figured out a solution I would love to hear from you.

:: My technical difficulties extend beyond my computer. I think I'm entering one of my awkward phases again. Last week at the market I went to place a bag of green beans at the checkout. Unfortunately the zip lock seal at the top wasn't done up and the green beans went flying. Then a couple days ago I dropped my favourite Weck jar on the counter. It made a bad noise, but when I looked at it it appeared to be fine. But last night my husband brought the jar to me after finishing his dessert (they are brilliant for individual dessert portions) and showed me the crack along the bottom.

:: I don't know if you remember me blogging about I sweater I started last spring that ended up resembling a bag. Seriously, when I got up to the armholes and took it off the needles to try on I was horrified to see that two, possibly even three, of me could have fit in it. I was so disappointed. The yarn was a wool/linen blend from Blacker Yarns in the UK. I loved the yarn, and I had really wanted a sweater that would be great to wear on cool spring days or in the evening in the summer once the sun goes down. I promptly stuffed it all in a bag and shoved it to the back of my craft closet where it sat in a time out until this spring.

:: This time around I picked a completely different kind of pattern. Basically that means I was looking for one that wasn't bag shaped. This is Backshore, by Alicia Plummer.

:: It's everything I was hoping it would be, and I've already worn it several times. I wasn't sure I was going to like knitting with something that had linen in it, but it turns out this yarn is a dream to knit with. I will definitely be using it again.

:: This wee mouse was spotted by my friend's grandson on a recent hike up Teapot. Aren't those ears adorable?

:: We also spotted this teapot. The blue and white pattern is very beautiful, but it left me wondering who would want a teapot with a hole in the middle. Perhaps that's the very reason it's hanging on a branch on Teapot Hill rather than occupying a kitchen.

:: I never get tired of the way the light filters through the trees on a sunny day. Depending on the angle of the sun, plants, branches, patches of moss, spider webs, needles and leaves on the path, or even a whole mountainside can appear to be glowing. Here's nature's version of a garland.

:: The sun is shining and our forecast high for this afternoon is 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit). It's still quite cool this morning, but once it warms up I plan to spend some of my Sunday afternoon sitting on my front porch with my knitting and a cold drink. What about you? Do you have any special plans for the day?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Button Delay

I meant to write this post earlier in the week. The problem was the content. I had two little baby sweaters I had finished, one more than a month ago, and I wanted to blog about them. But both sweaters needed buttons. My powers of procrastination when it comes to a dreaded job, be it cleaning, crafting, or anything else are not to be underestimated. On Wednesday I gave myself a stern talking to, and went as far as making a note.

A Post-It note usually motivates me, but in this case I ended up putting a very loose interpretation on the word "tonight." Three days later there were still no buttons, and no blog post. Yesterday, possibly motivated by the fact it was a lovely day and I could sit on the front porch while I worked, I finally got the buttons sewn on.

This is the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann. It is the fifth one I have knit, and every time I make one I marvel at her brilliance. You would think after five of them I would start to understand how it all works out the way it does, but I remain as clueless now as I was when I cast on my very first one.

I think the puppy buttons are perfect. Fergus and Jenny agree.

The second sweater is a Puerperium, which is intended for a newborn baby. I made one for Ella when she was born and Rebekah really liked it. It's always nice to know something you knit for a baby is actually wearable. I have made a couple of duds in the past, so now I try to pick projects that are as practical as they are cute.

There was a slight delay in sewing on these buttons while I tended to an injury. The buttons were stapled onto a piece of cardboard, and I was using my seam ripper to pry them off. Here's a tip. It's a really good idea to point the seam ripper away from your other hand while doing this. If you don't, when the staple comes loose the point of the seam ripper will end up impaling the palm of your hand. Is it any wonder I hate sewing on buttons?

I'm sure you've figured out by now there is a new grandchild on its way. In a couple of weeks Lucy is going to have a little brother! We are all very excited, and I already have lots of little boy sweaters in my Ravelry queue that I hope to knit.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Short Long Weekend

The Easter long weekend has come and gone. Well, sort of come and gone. Today is Easter Monday, and I always find it a bit confusing. In Canada it is one of those semi-holidays. Schools, libraries, the post office and government offices are closed, but for everyone else it seems to be a regular day.

Rebekah, Anton and Ella were out for an overnight, and we had so much fun watching Ella explore.

This was her first experience with grass. Or, more accurately in the case of our lawn, moss, clover and buttercups.

Ella had her first trip up Teapot Hill. She seemed to enjoy the experience, but then again, who wouldn't if they got carried all the way up?

While Rebekah was here she kindly agreed to take some pictures of a couple of my finished knitting projects.

This is my Buchanan sweater, which is a Kate Davies design. I started this last August but then put it aside for a "few weeks" and cast on something else. Then another something else, etc., etc. The end result is those few weeks morphed into a few months, and now that I've finally finished it the weather has turned too warm to wear it. I fall into the crafter's category of Slow Learner.

I'm curious. Is today a holiday in your neck of the woods?