Monday, December 31, 2007


That's all I want to say. It's a few minutes until 2008.

My wish for everyone....

Let's Make it Great!
In 2008!

Health and Happiness to you all.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Make it Fabulous!

O.K. That's enough of that, I need to post something that's nicer to look at than that picture of me last year!

Let's move on to something knitterly!

There is a lot of symbolism and memories associated with this next knitted project, but tonight I'm just going to focus on the wonderful-knit-ness of this scarf.
If I get too much into 'the story' (which, as I've been reminded, is always better than reality) then this blog has the potential to become a 'downer blog'. I don't want to have a 'downer blog'. I've seen some, and I can't tell you which ones they are, because I didn't go back to read them because....say it with me....they were 'downer blogs'!
So here is a lovely ribbon scarf that I presented to my friend H in the lovely pink box with self 'bowing' closure. The kit came from Sheep Strings in Huntsville,ON and was packaged in the box so that it must have surely been meant to be knit and presented as a gift. (follow the link to get the story and maybe order a kit for yourself!)
It's quite a soft, delicate accessory that I know will look fabulous on it's new owner!

It was worked with two different ribbon yarns and the ends of the rows, where the yarn changes occured were left longer to create a fringe running along one of the long edges. Beads were then added to the tales and the fringe at the end to give the scarf some weight and sparkle!

So that was what I produced from a kit.

This is something that I came up with on my own. :o)

When my niece was born (almost) 2 years ago, her room was to be decorated in a Winnie the Pooh theme. I found this neat fabric, not like I'ld seen other places, at F & K Textiles in Bradford, ON. I then found (in the discontinued, $2-$3/m rack at Fabricland, this tigger striped flannelette; it had a grease stain on part of it, but I could work around that and I grabbed it! When you get a fun fabric like that you really don't want to mess around with it too much (and I still fool myself into thinking that I'll finish things faster if I keep them simple!---Who's fooling who?) so I just figured out a letter 'O' and machine appliqued it to the front and used the same 'tigger' fabric for the backing. I chose one of my decorative stitches on my machine and, again, kept it simple for the quilting.

And it was there that I stopped. I was uncertain about the binding and so there it sat, and sat, and sat. I moved it around quite a few times, but this year I decided, 'That's it! I'm finishing it and getting it to her before it's too late!"

And I did.

I've faced that 'uncertainty' trait quite a few times this past year, sat down and researched whatever the issue was, and then realized that the only thing to do was to try. Just do it! Nobody ever died from a 'not perfect' quilt binding! The sweater that you made doesn't look the same as the picture? Call it a 'design element' and move on; there's a lot more yarn out there waiting for you to turn it into something fabulous...maybe not perfect, but fabulous all the same!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Me!

It's been a year today since I had my last chemo treatment.

A few weeks after that I was given the all clear from the doctors, along with, "see you every 6 months for the rest of your life."

The next two pictures are courtesy of my dear friend P who calmly escorted me to two of my treatments, knit with me while waiting, held my hand while crying (I'm not sure if it was both of us or just me; felt like just me).

I took along with me, to my last treatment, the comfort shawl that my dear friend E made for me. And I KNOW I cried when I got that and read the sweet words in the card that came with it; it truly was (and is) a comfort! The scarf I wore whenever I wanted to look half decent (which felt increasingly difficult as time went on) was from my brother years ago, and I received so many compliments when I wore it that I figured that it must look alright!

I look a little zoned out in this picture; well, I did have a little somep'n somep'n (had to think how to spell that) to help 'settle' me. My translation is: The medication didn't really relax me, but it did enable me to at least sit through this final treatment and not BOLT out the door!

I guess each hospital has a special way for you to honour completing your treatment and at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, you get to ring the bell on your way out!

And ring it I did!!! (I'm pretty sure P was choked up for this one) Also, just to clarify any confusion (and because I'm still a girl) the camera adds 10 pounds and so does chemo! (at least 10 lbs.) Looking back on this picture I remember how all the people in the waiting area were so supportive and congratulated me and wished me well and how warm, sincere and caring they all were; I hope they got to ring the bell as well.

That was December 28,2006.

By January 1, 2007 I was ready to start the new year and say BYE BYE to 2006!

One of the things that I looked forward to most was...

Stitched West in California!! My hair had started growing back in mid February and so when my husband and I headed to California I thought, 'it's California; I can have any kind of hair I want there' and went without a hat or scarf or anything! M said that I was easy to spot in the airport!

There are stories about flight delays etc., but one of my fondest memories is a lady running after me after we had landed to ask me how I had been allowed to knit, or even bring my knitting to the waiting area? And since knitting was the main reason I was there, I was tickled! Two words: Bamboo Needles. I'm usually a fan of Addi Turbo, but I figure on the plane it just makes sense to go with the Bamboo.

Word to the wise----Always check with the airline and be prepared to mail it home if they won't let you take it with you!

One of the best things about 2006 was the birth of my second niece O. It was so wonderful to have a new baby to cuddle, love, and think about the future with. I remember holding her and not wanting to give her back to her parents, because the next day I was to see the surgeon that would give me the biopsy results was just soooo much better holding a sweet new baby. So here's the beautiful face that made me smile (and still does) whenever I looked at her for the past year and a half.
And here's our big girl with the sweater that I made for her for Christmas. When I gave it to her I said, " Thank Heaven for little girls", because that sweater was supposed to be for my daughter and when that didn't happen it was supposed to be for my eldest niece and nooooo; so here it is six years later and yea! A little girl that can wear it! It's mauve chenille (If I ever want to knit chenille again, remind me how much I hate working with chenille. Every few years I make something to remind myself how much I dislike it; I don't want to do that anymore, so help me out will you?), with a maripou (sp?) trim for the sleeves and neck and pewter clasps. It's a kit, and except for my procrastination qualities, was an enjoyable project.

I celebrated my one year anniversary with some friends and their kids and had a lovely and lively evening! Just the way it should be....

One year later.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just Call Me Mother of the Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas; actually, I hope everone has a wonderful EVERYDAY! I know this concept goes around about Christmas just being another day and we put too much pressure (especially) on ourselves to make it P E R F E C T!!

Not gonna happen!!

But, still, there's so much I want to do, and there are soooo many good ideas out there of things to try to do. Things to make, things to bake, cards to write and people to see; (un)fortunately they ALL tend to get geared to be a MUST for Christmas Day or to the few days that surround it.

Well here's the story of one of the self imposed pressures---also read, leave me alone, I'm having fun!

First: choose two fabulous, coordinated fabrics, with at least one holding some meaning to the intended recipeint.

(what appears as blue is actually grey; quite stunning! And it was soft like silk too!)

Next: layout a design for the item that you intend to design for your loved ones. And then, set up your basic assembly line, and ponder (best to record your ponderings) in which order to complete the know, bottom pieces first, all the same coloured thread at the same time, same pressor foot at the same time, etc., etc.

The larger black item is meant to be the half silhouette of the female body; when I tried to sketch and cut out the entire curvature (because we're meant to have curves!!) it ended up looking like...

The Stanley Cup.

At least I know where the designer got his inspiration!

O.K. so you've got the machine part of the assembly completed and now it's on to the embellishments! And this is where you get to change your mind and EDIT your design! So plan for 2-3 of the extras that you wanted to add will be put away for another day.

See, that's satisfactory...a little white star hung by some gold yarn; should look pretty good. So do all the finishing work and then display infront of the Christmas tree that your mother crocheted for you when you got your first apartment when you were 19 years old, in preparation for the photo shoot. And...

The back view of the ornament, that when presented received questions like, "is it a purse; how do I get into it?" and "is it a bookmark?" I like the bookmark idea; it'll be enjoyed all year long. But the purse thing? That's just too fiddly for me!

And here's the front view of "The Red Hot Mamas" ornament as inspired by Cotton Picker (see previous posts for link). And doesn't the star look 'fabulous' with the gold streamers?! Isn't it interesting how much something can change by turning it upside down and adding just a bit more sparkle?

So, I completed 8 of those before the party on Saturday night. And it felt good that everyone really did appreciate the effort that went into them. On Sunday, it was the dash (unfortunately a slow dash) to my parents after my son's hockey game (he tied; they remain unbeaten!) for the family Christmas gathering. Another wonderful meal and lots of laughs. The laughs are pretty easy when there's a two year old running around (two next month for all the detail oriented people out there!) Anyway we got home pretty late, but luckily the dog had behaved and all she had for me was kisses; no mess to clean up----Yea!

So the next morning is Christmas Eve; I'm still thinking that I can get some things sewn up for the kids and I'm enjoying my coffee in my studio and down comes my daughter....looking like she was going to cry or that somebody had just done something awful to her; so I ask her, "What's the matter?"

"I feel like I'm going to throw up RIGHT NOW!!"

And here comes another one of my finest moments as a parent...


I get her turned around and we're heading out of my room when, BLAHHH! The poor thing, she was so worried about not getting barf on anything, that, well, it was all over her instead. Got her cleaned up and she really felt tons better after throwing up. Now, could someone please explain to me why a child who's bedroom is on the second floor, will pass their father who is in the room next to them, and who has a ensuite in the room; pass the main bathroom; turn right, instead of left to the two piece on the main floor, to go down the stairs to tell their mom, who is in a room, overflowing with yarn and fabric and not known for her organizational skills re: aforementioned yarn and fabric, to announce that they have to throw up "NOW!"?


And it gets better.

My son threw up twice that afternoon, but I guess when you're 11, you figure out that the bathroom is the way to go. My daughter didn't throw up anymore, but did have a nosebleed and while it was obvious that she had a fever, denied feeling anything untoward (now, you never get to use that word!) I did get the P.J.'s finished for them, but not before they went to bed; so the jammies were waiting for them when they woke up in the morning. Everybody managed to sleep through the night; infact I was the first one up at 7 to look after the dog. But I hadn't had a restful night.

The kids and I, all droopy and pale, sat around waiting for my husband to come down so that the kids could 'do' their stockings. We had a lot of fun opening the gifts and seeing just what each of us had come up with for the others and when we were done, I said, "I get the couch!" I was there for a little while and then got kicked out (actually left voluntarily) so that High School Musical 2 could get it's debut. I went upstairs to bed and there I stayed for the day. Yup, I had nothing left for the day that I prepared so long for. And next year, it's gonna be different...I've already got it planned out!

Do we ever learn? Please tell me it's not only me.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and many, many more!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Still here

Hi there. I keep logging on; wanting to post, but I never get to have the camera and the time all lined up together. So sorry, it's late and I want to F I N I S H wrapping. Yes, I'm that close. As I pointed out to my fellow knitters this evening at the CC tonight though, there's 5 more days to be able to do more!
It's not like I'm all efficient and actually finished all that I started out to do...HA! What did happen though, is that I've finished the stuff that stood a reasonable chance of completion last week, but I still have a MULTITUDE of ideas and plans set aside....waiting....and wishing.
So, no pictures ( I just checked if there was anything here to show you...nothing too exciting; the exciting stuff is on the camera!)
I'm off, wrapping and dreaming and sipping some bedtime tea. All in all, a festive evening.
So long.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Just Let It Be

Last night was our 'Cast Off Christmas' and , as usual, it was an affair to remember! We are an eclectic group bringing many different talents and personalities to each gathering. Some of us are bound by 'rules'; where other's of us challenge any and everything and yet some vacillate (how cool is it to be able to use that word?!) between the two extremes. And so this year we broke with 'tradition' and had a true potluck ie. nobody knew what anybody else was going to bring for our Christmas dinner! We didn't know if there would be only salads or maybe just buns! We decided this as a group and while there was concern that somebody would go to all the trouble of cooking a whole Turkey and then have nobody eat it (that objection was quickly put to rest by everyone giving assurance that they would not prepare a Turkey; problem solved) but as the day approached I have to say, as the hostess, that I started to stress....what if we needed something that I didn't have?! Would there be enough? Maybe I should just get a feel for what people are bringing; I could do it sneaky like and contact people on a one-on-one and be reassured that it would all work out. In other words, I was looking to control it, to have it perfect, to take complete responsibility for EVERYTHING!! Luckily I have friends that prove to me (every week) that it's not necessary to have everything perfect (no matter what you hear and see on the radio and t.v.); that it's o.k. to allow the universe to unfold as it was meant to. And if that meant we only got 15 desserts, bad could that be anyway?
The only plan we had was to meet anytime after 5 at my home...and the food started arriving. We had two different kinds of baked cheese appetizers, shrimp, savoury filled puffed pastries, a tossed salad, a beet salad, two different kinds of pasta salad, a five cup salad, cheesy potatoes, curried veggies and rice, pork tenderloin in a tomato sauce, and two kinds of meatballs each in their own crock pot! The meal was completed with a large tray of squares (and of course tea or coffee). Oh yea, I think there was wine too. ;o) We could not have planned the meal any better! We had some of everything that would make a dinner party and it was all DELICIOUS!!!
This was a shot to capture the empty plates! I should have gotten a before shot for you, but they were FULL and it got pretty quiet as we all enjoyed the fabulous fair. Just look at those plates~~~EMPTY~~~ 15 empty plates! There is no better compliment to any cook!
Sometimes the Universe unfolds in an unthinkable direction and all we can do is sit and ask Why? We're not supposed to know all the answers, we're not supposed to be able to make everything better; 'perfect'. Stuff happens, bad stuff and good stuff and all we can do is focus on what we have now. We have friends that will stand by us whatever we're facing, and sometimes that makes us cry, but mostly we have friends who love us and make us laugh. We have friends that with a few clicks of a mouse, a few whirs of a sewing machine and a few whisshh of an iron remind us of what is beautiful in our lives. A strong, young and happy boy and a precious new baby girl...that's what my friend Ruth has in her grandchildren; she also has all of us wishing, hoping and praying that 'better' is what is meant to be today. Please God, let it be better.
We also had a Cookie Exchange this year. Everybody brought thirteen packages of 6 cookies and we set them up on the table and then everybody went around and picked up a package from each pile and left with 6 1/2 dozen different kinds of cookies. We sampled some of the goodies for dessert and....damn we're good! AGAIN!!!
My kids were home to help with coats and transporting things into the house and for the exchange part of the party (Watching 15 grown women go nuts opening Christmas gifts was quite the sight for them. I got to use "It's my house and we'll do the gift exchange my way" line; it was very empowering!) and they were just over the top seeing all the pretty packages filled with goodies!
We do a gift exchange every year and I like to have a little something for everyone (if I can) and this year after checking out some other blogs I had this vision. Kind of foggy at first, but the more I let it swirl around in my mind the clearer it became. I wanted to make an ornament for everybody and I like to put a lot of significance in all that I create...this conflicts with the whole 'Let It Be' concept, but it's surprising what happens if you allow yourself to be open to all the possibilities...this is where I find salvation in the above mentioned conflict.

When I choose fabrics, yarns, everything I want it to have a meaning. I chose Blue homespun to remember our friend Carole (she loved Blue), scraps of fabric with little skeins of blue yarn, blue Noro Silk Garden yarn that is from Carole's stash ~~ legacy yarn, and on the reverse I chose to fussy cut from blue Christmas fabric angels, stars, bells, candles etc. I miss Carole, but until I wrote how much of her is in the ornaments, I didn't quite realize how much. I also included some festive ribbon and a Christmas button to secure the hanger. I had wanted to try stamping on fabric and found a stamp to sum up some of my feelings for these dear friends of mine.


are those people who know

the words to the song

in your heart and sing it

back to you when you have

forgotten the words.


And with this fabric stamping attempt, I learned to 'let it be', to be patient, to keep trying, that it would not be perfect; especially having never done it before! I did the best I could and some of them were o.k. and some of them are now in the garbage...and that's o.k. too. I had also anticipated putting an eyelet in the top of the ornament for hanging; again having never done this before, I started to finish these jewels approximately 4 hours before the Cast Offs were expected (it's genetic; I get it from my mother! :o) Anyway, yea, the eyelet thing didn't work, I was patient, I kept trying, it wasn't even close to perfect! So I did the best that I could do and accepted that the eyelet idea was NOT to be...but now what? Think. Think. Buttons? Buttons. I had exactly 15 Christmas buttons that can support the hanger and the ornament; I just had to let it be.

I started with two pieces of 4" x 6" fabric; I wanted to practise my free motion quilting and stippling, so I used flannel to line the blue side for the applique and to give the whole ornament more body. I found the free motion to go more smoothly on the non-flannel lined side and the stippling over the scrap of fabric looked better the faster that I stitched.
They're cute little projects, but not necessarily quick...of course I'm struggling with trying to make it perfect and accepting what happens when you just let IT be. Things will work out the way they're supposed to if we stay out of their way; yup, fabric, yarn, people... let them show you what they want to be...Just Let It Be and we'll all be a lot happier with the results.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Every year I VOW that it will be different this year!
I will NOT plan to make something for everybody I know; I'm gonna keep it simple; I'll keep calm about the whole thing...

Yup, every year. And this year was no different.

I vowed. I had ideas. I shopped and stash dove to brings said ideas to thruition.

And then....

I stress, stay up too late, forget to eat and feed my family and just generally can't stand how wonderful everything turns out!!! (Except for the mess and the general lack of well being in the family department)

Here's a wall hanging that I completed for my friend J. She had a Christmas party Saturday night and was presented with above quilted object to take a place of honour at her cottage.

We've been trying for a couple of years to get together to make a quilt called Dream Catcher; we were supposed to take a course at Jellybean's in Oakville, but the weather was bad on the scheduled day (here anyway) and we didn't make it down there. We have the fabric cut and both of us just need to stay still long enough to actually get're waiting for me to say done, aren't you? Nope, STARTED!! We've set aside Monday afternoons. We have yet to get together on a Monday afternoon, but we've set it aside alright, yup, Monday afternoons; quilt with J.

Maybe next year.

Here is the little sweater that I've let you peek at over the past few weeks. I used Snuggly yarn from the did have a recipient in mind, but that was two years ago....and it was a girl. Now, I made this for a girl too, and added some pink daisy buttons just to make sure that no one got the wrong idea. Another part of the rationalization is that the wee one who gets this sweater is the 5th grandDAUGHTER and second girl to mom and dad. I'm pretty sure that there will be enough pink around that one blue and white sweater won't go unappreciated. I've always wanted to do that twisted cable thing; it looks so challenging, but really quite straightforward and once I got my head (and hands) around cabling without the cable needle, the whole thing just flew!!

Here's another Stash buster!! A fleece housecoat that was meant for my son, but time got away (again) and he had outgrown it before I got it made. The Red Hot Mama's did a kids gift exchange where we drew names and I got (I mean one of my kids got) a little fella' that was the right size, age, etc. and his mom was going to appreciate it too. Fleece is nice to work with because there is no need to finish the seams, ie. it doesn't fray; so you just go along cut it, sew it and wear it! Now this was a team effort as it was my mom who cut it out for me (helping me get it ready for my son); just making sure that the credit is given where the credit is due!

It's funny, I remember a LONG time ago mom and I talking about sewing and both of us agreed that we didn't mind the sewing part, but cutting out would be a job we would like someone else to do. Well, she looked after that housecoat for me and although her grandson didn't get to wear it (he wears the one she made him) the little guy that got it was really tickled; so thanks mom.

I also remember mom showing me how to cut out patterns and how to best lay them out and not waste fabric. And as I was going over all the hints that she has given me over the years I thought about those weights that they sell for holding down patterns and how I don't have any; yet didn't ever see the point. Don't get me wrong I love the gadgets, the new fangled things that make any task or hobby go along more smoothly; to get those fabulous results that we all strive for! And I wondered what they used to do before those weights, because I remember life before the weights.

And then I remembered what my mom showed me to do. Do you have any 'mom' tricks?

So the kids gift exchange with the Red Hot Mama's (and Papa's) was on Sunday...yea, it was a busy weekend! It was a pot luch luncheon and I brought dessert (I usually ask to bring desserts). Well, it was a kid function, but the adults would want something too; so I came up with a Gingerbread Theme. I made a Gingerbread House FROM SCRATCH for the kids; my daughter help decorate it, and a Gingerbread cake with a cream cheese and spiced apple filling...YUMMY!!

Here's most of the Red Hot Babies and the Gingerbread House (I can't believe that I didn't get a close up of the house....duh! -- I'm trying for the Homer Simpson sound there) Anyway, you know how Gingerbread Houses are usually just picked away at with candy all gone; leaving only poor, bare and slimey cookie house?

Four minutes flat and it was GONE!! All of it GONE!! It was like a shark feeding frenzy!!!

I was so happy. :o)

Well, I'm still working on the next batch of Christmas deadlines, but can't show you yet. Any hints though on how people stamp sayings, pictures, etc. onto fabric? I'm not totally disappointed with my efforts, but I'm just wondering what kind of input I can get from other crafters out there. I bet Cotton Picker will have some good advice!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Well hello out there and now that the Christmas Season is officially here; I mean officially as in 'December'...I had a little difficulty saying Merry Christmas (which is still what I say!) when the Halloween decorations aren't even cold yet! But I digress...Christmas is coming and you know what that means?

Yup! A new Whopper Box!!!

I know; really it's the little things isn't it?

When I named this blog I didn't really anticipate a new Whopper box for the seasons, but so far this is really fun.

Did you hear the one about the Easter Bunny laying a 'Whopper'?

(I just made that up; if you think of a funny it!)

O.K. so it's full swing into the To Do list that is ALWAYS too long and so to make sure that I share the stress; I find other people to 'help' me finish some tasks and then put the stress back on myself to make it as easy as possible for them to help me. I think that the most recent example of this is me taking the quilts to a lovely lady who lives about an hour away, asking her to complete them in two days, and then driving back to pick them up. And that should be enough to sum that up don't you think? Nope; let's add 'guilt' about leaving the dog alone too
much and so drag her to and from the quilt excursion.

Looks like she's having fun doesn't it?

At least she wasn't asking, if we were there yet? Or complaining about being hungry (she's a lab; they're always hungry!), or thirsty or having to go to the bathroom or 'he's touching me' or 'she's annoying me.'

All in all, a pretty good co-pilot...except for the 'poop 'n scoop' part. eewww

Let's focus on all the things that we add to our list of 'shoulds' (evil word!) Everybody has a different focus and expectations, but I just want to show you the best way that I've multi-tasked in a long time.

Check this out! Knitting whilst getting a pedicure!

Not wasting Christmas prep time and something that's 'good for me' on oh soooo many levels! All that was missing was a soothing beverage...maybe next time.

Knitting Heaven!

I used the Harmony Interchangeable Knitting needles for this project and I L O V E them! I've completed the knitting and blocking and just need to finish up the assembly and embellishment and then that's....ONE off the list.

I have survived the second snow day of the school year; it fell on a Monday after a weekend that was preceeded by a PA day....yeah, my knitting tension is FINE and the twitching should stop after some more wine. Ha ha. (and I say that with as little enthusiasm as possible)...and you know what? The kids were mad as all get out that they had to go to school on Tuesday! But, really, it was for their own good/safety.

And to keep my sanity, I took Chloe and my camera for a walk around our property.

I'm a little disappointed with this first shot; it supposed to show the snow being supported by the tree while looking up under the branch. It looked better in my head, but I think I'll still try to fool around with it on the printer at the Superstore.

And this next one?

I was going for textural contrasts and an example of white on white.

O.K., I made that 'white on white' part up just now, but the textural thing was really what I tried to capture, like Fiona Ellis in Inspired Cable Knits.
Nature combines different colours and textures without worrying about any rules and it all looks let's try putting unexpected things together and see what happens!

You'll never know if you don't try. See you soon and keep on knitting!

...The kids are home and arguing; so I'm pasting on that smile that says "I love you" and thinking that I'll try to work it that I go out for dinner with my knitters; yup, Life is good.