Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hello From Shanghai

It's been a busy month for me. Well, I don't think busy quite covers spending every day with a 2 year old and a 3.5 year old. Crazy. Exhausting. Repetitive. Cute.

China has been good. Tiring. It's difficult when you only speak 10 words of the language. Even though I'm just with the boys most of the time, my sister-in-law's mother is here and while her English is much better than my Mandarin, we don't have a common language.
Still, it's been good. And there are yarn stores. Walking distance. And incredibly cheap online shopping. It's been very tempting. This grey and pink I got almost as soon as I arrived as a birthday present from my brother and sister in law. My brother and I wandered out to the shops one night and he got me this.
It says it's wool/silk/cashmere, but it clearly has some nylon in it. Still, it's so soft and lovely.





I'm making a shawl with it. I'm not done the first two balls and it's already quite big. I'm striping the body, then using a third ball to make a feather and fan edging in the pink.
I'm also writing up the pattern for it. It's quite simple, but something that can easily be worked in any weight yarn.
I went back to the shops and bought some more yarn- just simple grey worsted/dks to go with some of the brightly coloured stuff I have at home. Cardigans!

We took a trip to Inner Mongolia, and while shopping for wool stuff for sister-in-law's sister, we happened into a yarn store. I couldn't resist some cashmere. It's also in grey, and enough for a sweater. It came with 6 balls, and each has not only fine weight yarn to hold along for strength but also sewing thread weight yarn. It also came with knitting needles, not that I need them. It was 400 RMB, so about 70$. For a whole sweater. Yum. Also picked up some nice plain green wool to make my nephew some mittens. He's excited.

Then on the weekend I had my first day off! It was amazing. I met up with 4 Ravelers for a day trip. One of them had a van and driver and we set off to the warehouse of an online yarn store.
It was so much fun confusing the poor, kind driver with our weird yarn shopping, browsing the rather amazing warehouse, finding the bargains, spending time with English-speaking adults and not answering "why?" every five minutes.
I had a great day, and managed to be reasonable with my spending. You can see what I got above. The shiney lurex cones were only 5 RMB each (less than a dollar) and I am excited to hold them along with something to make a glitzy shawl. The fluffy white yarn they gave me for free because it was the last of something they decided was too sheddy. The stitch markers and snag fixer likewise were free.
The pink silk was my big thing- they made me a cone of 3 plys/400g- I'd say it's heavy laceweight, and it's so lovely. It was RMB 8/50g... so my whole cone was 64 RMB, or about 12$.

It was really hard not to buy more. Some of the other women got amazing cashmeres and merinos and just gorgeous stuff. The bargains, I tell you.
I really enjoyed the entire day, and I left with not only bargains but some new friends. They met up the next day too, but I had to help look after the boys, and I've been fighting a rather nasty cold off so one day just about did me in.

Well, it's time for bed. Little monkeys wake up early! Hopefully I'll have more yarny pictures next time.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Off on an Adventure

Life has been very, very busy for me lately, and this may be my last post for quite some time.
I've been preparing for a very big adventure.

Before I tell you all about it, I want to share what I've been working on lately.
This is my little sewing corner a week or two ago, preparing to make a bag. My poor plant has died already (I try, but I am just not good at plants), but I still love that corner. After my last apartment where I didn't have a table and had to sew on the coffee table, an area where I can lay out my cutting mat and sewing machine and have all my shelves of stuff behind is just so lovely.

This is my sewing project that day- a yarn bag! It's lovely, a bit bigger than planned but it holds a lot of stuff. I need to use a bit more yarn and get everything onto my shelves, then this will be turned into my wip basket.

I still had a scrap of leather from my purse, so I made a leather handle for it.

Here is the second ARG plushie for Andrew's second book kickstarter. He's hanging out with the first ARG since the guy who got ARG number one took a long, long time to decide on some of his rewards.
They aren't my favorite thing to make, but I do love how silly they are. It's fun to pose them!

This is a pair of socks I've been working on. They're awesome! They go all the way up to my calves. I like a good long pair of socks.

And here's the newest pair- started before finishing the old one, because last night at my knit night the three of us who bought Fluormania on the knit along started our crazy socks together. They are delightfully retina-searing.

This is just my luscious treat project. The yarn is a vivid tropical ocean blue, and it's 100% silk. I loved two stitch patterns I found on Pinterest- this one and this one. The first has a chart, but the second seems to have vanished off the internet. So I set about drawing out a chart combining the two.

I'm quite happy with the result. I can't wait 'til it's finished and blocked. It's going to be lovely.


Alright, now you're caught up on most of what I'm working on.
My big adventure starts next Tuesday, when I'll be flying off for 7 weeks in China! I'll be staying in Shanghai with my big brother, my sister in law and my two adorable nephews. I'll be visiting and helping look after the boys and who knows what else while I'm there.
I can't wait. I've gotten my ticket, my travel insurance, my visa, my vaccinations, a whole drug store worth of stuff I might need, my packing list is started, I've got a new sketchbook and even a list of what projects I should probably bring.
That is definitely tricky- I need to pack 7 weeks of crochet. I'm packing a lot of light weight stuff. Fingering and lace weight projects, for the most part. I'm also worrying a bit about books. My plan right now is to pack enough for the plane rides, and then just try checking out ebooks from the library on my laptop if I need something to read while I'm there. I thought about getting an ereader, but I don't really want one for every day so it seems a bit silly.

I can't wait. I'm excited and very nervous. I've been trying to learn a bit of Mandarin, so hopefully I will at least pick up a few more sentences while I'm there. I'm so excited to see my family again, especially the boys. I haven't seen them since January, and they are both under 4. They change so quickly! It will be so wonderful to get to know them so well while they're still very little. I can't wait for bedtime stories and snuggles and playing.
I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the summer, and perhaps I'll be able to make a post or two while I'm away. Now I'm going to enjoy a quiet day, my nice cup of tea and some Netflix and crochet.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

TTC Knitalong 2014

Yesterday I got to participate in the 2014 TTC Knitalong, which supports Sistering. It's a lot of fun- this is the second year I've gone.
I was on team Lace with a couple of friends- some I knew would be on my team, but there were some familiar faces among the people I didn't sign up with.

We went to 4 yarn stores around the city with our group before all the groups met up at the Rivoli afterwards for a few drinks and door prizes.

Our group started at the only shop I hadn't been to before, Passionknit.

It was a bit crowded with our whole group, but it's a lovely little store. All the staff were so nice, and they were sweet enough to give us a goody bag with a skein of yarn in it! I ended up buying a second skein in a different colour so I can make a shawl with it, and I also picked up a crochet hook I needed.

We had a great time pawing through all the gorgeous stuff- I was very, very tempted by some amazing 100% silk they had, but managed to stick on budget.

My friends Alia and Kara- Alia just came over and blocked her shawl at my (cat-free) apartment. Isn't it pretty?

The next shop was Creative Yarns out in Scarborough. The owner, Nina, is really nice and has a great sense of colour. Her shop is filled with great design/yarn combos to buy. They also had Kauni, which I haven't seen anywhere else in Toronto. I didn't see the EQ (rainbow) colourway, so I didn't get any, but it was nice to give it a feel.
Erin, Kara and I all bought the same yarn in the same colourway- an amazing neon striped sock yarn. We're planning on bringing it to knit night so we can all make the same socks at the same time. 'Cause we're cool kids.
There's also a delicious bakery next to Creative, so we stopped and got cheese pies to tide us over until lunch.

Here we are on the TTC, enjoying playing with yarn and chatting. This is my awesome groupie skills (a groupie being a selfie with a bunch of people).

The next shop is my favorite and my weakness. The Purple Purl is filled with things I want, including amazing yarn, tasty food and drink and so much colour. Oh how I love the colour.
Not to mention the owners, Jen and Miko, are just the nicest people. They are always friendly, helpful and make you feel welcome.

I knew my resolve would crumble, and after being so good in the first 2 shops I ended up buying a bunch here. Some plain grey Cascade 220 to go with some pink in my stash for a striped cardi, some amazing Liberty Wool Light which I plan on using to design a little baby sweater and a totally dreamy skein of turquoise Sweet Georgia Spun Silk Lace- my big splurge of the day. 100% silk, just gorgeous soft and slinky yarn. I can't wait to play with it.

Kara and I grabbed fish n chips at this awesome little hole in the wall that I used to go to when I worked in the east side. BnB Fish n Chips- yummy and served properly in newspaper.

Here is team Lace! We had an awesome team and great team captains who kept us on schedule and made it a very enjoyable day.

The last shop of our day was Romni Wools, which is a legend. I knew I'd end up buying some fun stuff here, because it's just too huge to not find something amazing!
They've been remodeling to make everything more open, and it looks great. Romni is enormous- I didn't take any pictures of the sale basement, because it's impossible to capture.

I wound up with two skeins of grey and pink angora from the basement (I'm thinking mittens) and from upstairs three skeins of Fleece Artist Knit East- one pink, one yellow, one pink/yellow variegated. Enough for a little cardigan!

After Romni, we made our way to the Rivoli where we promptly dumped our cumulative yarn purchases onto the table.
It's just so beautiful.

Here's my pile. I am so excited to start stitching!

It was a pretty big crowd, and a lot of fun. Everyone is so nice at the KAL!
Once the group had gathered, they went through and did prizes. Each group had 4 prize draws, then there was an enormous draw you could enter for a giant grand prize basket, then a prize for the person who bought the most, then a few draws for the last remaining prizes.

I won something!
That's right, the one prize of the day that is only for knitters... I won. It's an amazingly beautiful set of interchangeable needles, and I just about killed myself laughing when I found out what I'd won.

It was such a great day- it's a wonderful event, all the proceeds go to charity and the volunteers just do an excellent job making it a fun community event. I can't wait for next year, it's the 10th anniversary of the Knitalong, and I plan on being there!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rainy Day

It's a rainy day today, and I don't feel like doing anything. I might get around to calling and making a few doctor's appointments, but after spending most of yesterday at the doctor I'm not really keen on repeating that soon. Even though I need to. Yesterday I got updated on 7 vaccinations, so today my arm is hurting (thankfully it was only 2 shots, but the one with tetanus is always makes me feel a little tender).
It's time for me to have another hearing test, as it seems like I'm developing the same genetic hearing loss my mother has. I also need to head to a travel clinic for more vaccinations- because I'm going to China!
I'm going to be leaving in about three weeks, and I'll be spending 7 weeks in Shanghai with my brother and his family. That means I get to cuddle with my incredibly adorable nephews and do all sorts of fun activities with them, not to mention seeing my awesome big brother and his wife, and seeing China again and possibly other parts of Asia while I'm there.
I can't wait.

Right now, I'm trying to learn a bit of Mandarin so I won't be completely lost while I'm there. I'm almost ready to go.. visa acquired, plane ticket in hand, just need to get some vaccinations, decide what yarn I'm going to bring and get to packing.
Andrew is understandably rather upset that I'll be away from him so long, and I am going to miss him like crazy. But this is such an amazing chance for me to spend time with my nephews while they're little. They're only almost-2 and almost-4 right now.
Alright, I'd better make those appointments- and then I'm spending the rest of this rainy day playing video games, learning Mandarin and maybe cuddling up with the hubby to watch a movie or just hang out.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

On The Hook

Before I talk to you about my wips, you should all go check out my former coworker's blog. She designs adorable stuff and has fun tutorials and ideas.

I have so many projects on the go right now. It's great- some are new, but I've also picked up a lot of projects I put down ages ago. Let me take you through the ones that are active right now.

This is one I started awhile ago. It was gonna be a tank top, but now I've decided it should be a drape front top instead. I'm so excited about it, I loooooove rainbows so much.

This is a sneak peek at the cardigan pattern I'm designing. I love the fun cable on the back. I'm hoping to have testing for this going by the end of this week.

This will eventually be a baseball style shirt- probably 3/4 sleeves, but I haven't decided that much yet. The yarn is very soft- it's 50% Viloft from Eucalyptus, and has a lovely drape.

This is the second ARG plush for Andrew's Kickstarter rewards. He's not the most exciting project, but it'll be fun once I get to the embroidery bits and the dangly dangly legs.

This cardigan is something I am so incredibly excited for.

It's been my on the go project for quite awhile now. It's fingering weight and it's going to have a drapey sorta front bit and then I'm thinking I'll add ribbing to the bottom... I can't wait to have it done, but I'm also enjoying working on it. Isn't the colour awesome? It's Araucania Botany Lace, which is definitely a favorite of mine. It's very similar to Ella Rae Lace Merino, another awesome yarn. Sproingy soft 100% merino, it has beautiful stitch definition and just feels so great. When the store closed, I almost bought about 5 sweaters of this yarn because I love it so much. In the end, I stuck to just this one. I feel so noble for that. Ha!

This is a basic raglan shawl with just a bit of cable detail on the front. Nothing fancy or exciting, just making it like a top down sweater and then not separating for sleeves. I want something thick and warm and cozy for the winter. This one hasn't been getting so much love this season.

This is a tank top I started several years ago from this absolutely bonkers yarn. It's a ribbon yarn, so it's got some crazy drape to it, but it has these bizarre spots of glitter that's almost like a patch of glue on the yarn. I'm pretty excited to see how this thing turns out because I just can't predict what's gonna happen.

These are my next pair of lovely comfy vanilla socks. It's so exciting to have a pattern I'm excited to make for all my sock yarn. I'm an addict now, what can I say?

And last, but certainly not least, my newest cross stitch. The nerdy among you might recognize the start of a Firefly quote. I can't wait to put this one up in the house. You can find the pattern here- I've purchased two patterns from her now, and they're pretty much the best.

Alright, it's time to get the hook back out. I need to get going on these projects!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Going For a Wander

So I've been catching up on the wonderful Attic24, and every time I do I wish that I had a bit more of that charming, fresh style that Lucy does. So of course in my head I decide I'll start going to the park every week- but in reality I usually just sit around and crochet and watch more Netflix.
Yesterday, though, I decided that it was a beautiful day out and that I would actually go and do something. So I wandered through my neighborhood, and took pictures of flowers and bought some yummy bread and things from my local bakery and had a nice time.




I love roses, and these gorgeous vibrant pink roses made me so happy. I want to have a garden, and I want it to have roses.


Daisies are my mother's favorite, so I've always had a soft spot for them.


This window basket outside a restaurant blew me away. I love it- the colour of the flowers, the bright greenery, all set against that pretty wooden box.

This beauty is outside our house. We have a gorgeous planter that the management puts out every season, and this summer's is just stunning.

The colour and the beautiful flowers make me happy every time I come home.


I bought this foxglove on my walk around the neighborhood. I couldn't resist. The corner store where I got it always has the nicest plants. It's where I got all the flowers for my wedding bouquets.
I bought this plant on my way home from knit night last night. I saw the colours and decided that I was going all out Attic 24 inspired and bringing even more flowers home. They were going to sit on my table too, until I realized that I could put them on my little bookshelf next to my desk and look at them all the time! Yay!

I've also been obsessed with making foamy milk and fancy tea this week. I found the easiest way to make foamy milk (take a jar with a lid, add less than half the jar in milk, shake vigorously, take off lid and microwave about 30 seconds). So I've been making my own London Fogs- early grey tea (my favourite earl grey is President's Choice brand- I never have any less than 3 boxes in my house and I drink many cups of it a day. I'm obsessed) with vanilla and foamy milk. It's very yummy and fancy and tastes like something expensive.
I added a bit of honey to one of my drinks, and it was out of this world. I can't do that often, though. I'm trying to get less sugar and more exercise, since I went on the Wii Fit yesterday and was up a little bit.

I was going to tidy my desk off for this picture, and then I realized that you all might like a peek at what I'm making. So instead I went the opposite way and added a few more of my current wips to the pile.
I'm off to the secondhand store to get a few small pyrex bowls for this bread recipe I've been trying, and maybe to find a nice pot for my new plants. I need more milk for fancy tea, I need to pop over and tell my super that our hot water is out, and I'm off to a Sailor Moon Sleepover tonight for the new series starting tomorrow... but the rest of the day is mine for crochet!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where does the time go?

I can't believe I missed a month posting. You'd think that once a month is an easy goal, right? But it seemed like June was spent away for the most part, and I suppose that's true. I was at my parent's house for a week, and spent almost every other week at my in-law's house.
July, however, is going to be a quiet and relaxed month for me. I have something big and exciting coming up at the end of the month, so for the rest of the month I will be getting some down time. I can't wait, I feel like a kid waiting for summer vacation.
Of course, I'm going to spend some time crocheting. Hopefully a lot of time. I want to have at least two patterns written by the end of the month- one is started, it's a cabled slip stitch sweater. The other, I'm not sure. Maybe the slip stitch shawl I've been making. Perhaps a drape front top. Maybe socks. Who knows!

For now, here's some things I've finished- some recently, some months ago.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/crazytuffie/spring-scoop-neck
This is a recent one, but I've been wanting to make this sweater for years. I'm so excited to finally be finished it. Now I didn't pay a bit of attention to the gauge until the sleeves, so the body is a bit bigger than I normally would have made- but oh well, it's supposed to be a layering piece. I modified the sleeves a fair bit because the original had these wide cuffs that I didn't really care for.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/crazytuffie/socks
These socks I am so excited about. They the probably the most comfy socks I've made yet, and so easy. My favourite part, though, is that I can use stripey sock yarn properly. I have another pair going, and I'm already excited about finishing those so I can pull out some of my rainbow sock yarn for the next pair.



http://www.ravelry.com/projects/crazytuffie/chevron-lace-cardigan-3
I took some pictures of the cardigans I made. I haven't even worn this one anywhere yet, but I love how it fits and looks.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/crazytuffie/chocolate-dipped-strawberry-cardigan
This cardigan I started last summer and finished over the winter. I adore it. Ok, the front bit at the end of the zipper usually comes down to a bit of a point, but that's ok. It's soft and cozy comfy and warm- but not too warm. I also love how the yarn turned out. I knew it would have some weird pooling, but I love every bit of it's odd pooling. Especially the arms- they have matching chunks of colour on both sleeves.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/crazytuffie/simple-chunky-cardi
This sweater makes me so happy. I did this one way in the middle of the winter, but at the time I thought I was going to write up the pattern to submit to magazines. I decided I didn't want to, so I finally took some photos of it.
The only issue is that the hood isn't quite deep enough, but it's a pretty minor concern. It's soft and squishy and so very warm. I used two strands of worsted held together and made this really quite quickly. I think I finished in about 8 days. 8 very full days, but nonetheless, 8 days.
I did the sleeves back and forth so the texture would match, but it left a bit of a gap. You can see above that I added some surface chains to cover it and look like a faux seam.

Also, I got to use my favourite buttons. Acorns! They're too cute! I've been dying to find a project for them for so long.



Ok, this one I want opinions on. I've been working on it for ages and I just feel like the whole thing is so blech. Well, that's not true. I love the sleeves. But it just doesn't sit right.
What do you think? Would adding to that bottom band help? Is it just too narrow at the back?
I don't know if I even want to fix it- it's been on the go so long and I'm so disenchanted with the results that I kinda just want to bin it and move on.

Well, time to go visit my grandparents- yay! Lots of sock time on the way out.