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Greetings!

So, it’s been a while. A long while, but here I am. With knitting. I know, it’s hard to believe, but I do actually have some knitting to share ( along with more house updates! It’s consuming my entire life, so bear with me).

Now, I don’t really seem to have a lot of “down time,” unless you count sleeping and I don’t do a lot of that, but I have  found some time during the day to  knit. Because of the car/work/living situation, I get dropped off to work early every morning. By early, I mean 3 hours early. What’s a girl to do with all that waiting around to do? Knit of course. Knit some lace.

I know that one should knit lace when one is rested, in good light and able to concentrate. Well, if I waited for those ideal circumstances I’d never get any lace knit up. Instead, I charge ahead, fortified by a cup of drive-thru tea, knitting away. The results? Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

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This is the Fountain Pen Shawl from Interweave Knits Spring 2009.  I liked the geometric quality of the design – I find those easy to follow, which was a requirement for me this time around as I wasn’t going to be knitting while on top of my game. The pattern is clearly written and  the charts are easy to follow. More importantly, I didn’t encounter any errata, which is not something I can always say. I’d definitely recommend this one to a relatively new lace knitter. The only potentially tricky parts might be the nupps. Personally, I love nupps – they’re a really neat, textural element that isn’t particularly difficult to achieve. But it’s all a matter of personal preference.

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This is my clumsy homage to Jane Sowerby and Victorian Lace Today. Sometimes lace just needs to pose on a rustic bench. Not just lace, but alpaca lace. This was my first go with KnitPicks’ Alpaca Cloud. I’ve been curious about KnitPicks’ products for a while and was having a bad day so I decided to order some to make myself feel better. Besides, I like getting mail, even if  it’s something I’ve ordered. For it’s price point, it’s pretty good. It’s got good yardage for the cost and the colour is nice – I went with a heathered blue in Stream. Like any alpaca, it’s sheddy and reminded me of a finer weight version of my beloved Drops Alpaca, but not quite as soft. It blocks out nicely and does get that great fuzzy alpaca halo. All in all, it’s . . . okay. I’ll use it again (I bought 4 skeins and only used 2) and would probably order it again as I like the other colours. I think I prefer Misti International’s alpaca lace weight for softness (at least the 4 skeins I have marinating in my stash are ridiculously soft).

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Now I have to decide what to do with it. Do I keep it for me? Gift it? Hold a blog contest? Decisions, decisions.

On the house front, progress is being made, slowly, but steadily. We’ve finally finished demolition (hurrah! 20 tonnes later), and we’ve started framing in new walls, changing the stairs and replacing rotten floors. I say we, but really, the Man’s been doing it all with the help of his dad and a good friend’s father.

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That’ s my Man in action. I have to say, he gets a phenomenal amount of work done. He’ s becoming a little more comfortable in the forman role, giving orders and directions to the guys. I think he might have finally realized that he can’t do everything himself.  I’m not so useful at this point, as I have no framing experience and the table saw scares me, so I tend to work in the yard quite a bit and fetch lunches. I do have to repair the latice work skirting the deck and I’ve been working on an outdoor project of my own. It requires power tools and digging a deep hole. If it turns out, I’ll post pictures of it, if not, pretend I didn’t mention it.

Last post I mentioned the tomato plants I found amongst the weeds and I remember writing that I didn’t expect much of them. Well, they must have heard  me. They’ve risen to the occasion and shown me wrong.

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I’ve got tomatoes galore! Not just tiny ones either, but bigguns. I’ll be up to my ears in tomatoes once they start to ripen and I couldn’t be happier. As I wait for them to ripen, I think I’ll start another project. It’s starting to get chilly , maybe I need socks. Or a sweater. Or both. Hmmmmm.

And now it’s August.

Wow. Where has the time gone? I swear it was only yesterday I was posting about construction and moving. Well, I have moved and the construction has moved inside my house.

It has been a busy, busy month. Things have turned out a little differently than I had expected and I am more tired than I have ever been in my entire life, my knitting and sewing pursuits have definitely suffered, but I have become a master of demolition. This is one girl who can swing a wrecking bar like nobody’s business.

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This where I spend all of my free time. When the realtor’s posting said that it needed “a little tlc,” what they meant is, “this needs a whole lot of everything.” The man who lived here before us had, an interesting approach to home maintenance and a staggeringly low standard of cleanliness. And he was a chainsmoker. A chainsmoker that never opened the windows. Ever.  I’ll spare you the nasty particulars (because they are nasty and it makes me really angry to think about it), but it took my mom and I 3 1/2 4 litre jugs of bleach to cut through the smell. It was intense. Since we took possession though, a lot has changed.  We have our ups and downs and moments of incredible doubt, but we just keep going. I secretly hope, every time we pull up, that someone has broken in and done the work for us, but so far no luck.

So here for your viewing pleasure are a few before shots (please don’t judge me, I didn’t make it this way):

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And here’s what the place looks liek now, after almost a month of hard work:

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I wish I could show you all the work we did – the 4 full dumpsters, the smashing down of plaster and lath walls and ceilings, the removal of the electrical, heating and plumbing systems (definitely use the loo before you visit), and the the removal of all the junk left behind. It has been hard, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and building in general. My favourite part has been reclaiming the yard. When I need to escape, into  the  backyard I go. My mom and I have been scouring the garden centres for plants (hurray for clearance!) and have added  roses, lilacs, phlox, lilies, herbs and shrubs to brighten up the place. My new neighbors have been peeking over the fence (and into our windows) to check out the progress we’ve made. I’ve wanted a garden for a long time an dam really happy I finally get to indulge my green thumb. There was a happy surprise in the garden – 14 tomato plants. I’m not sure that they’ll do much this season, but it was a nice discovery anyway.

And there has been a little knitting. The progress has been slow, but I ‘m almost finsihed a  pair of leafy lace  socks and have plans for a shawl – although that  might get delayed for another pair of socks. The lovely Ezmy sent me a fabulous ball of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn and it’s begging to be made into some socks. I’m thinking toe-up, just so I can use every last inch. 

Whiel the knitting has taken a backseat to the house,  I think about it everyday and am trying to make more of an effort to get some done. And post. Now that we’re beginning to find our rythym, I’ll be able to get back into regular posting. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer – some one please get out to the beach and splash around for me!

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Hi everybody – I just wanted to check in and let you know that we’ve started the Big Move. So, things might be a little quiet for the next little while as we move in with the Man’s parents and begin to attack our new house. There will be knitting – once I figure out which box my yarn is in.

Until next time, I hope everyone is enjoying the summer (if you look really hard, you can find it under all the fog. Ah, life on the East Coast).

Socks and knots.

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Hey, would you look at that – knitting. A completed project, fresh off the needles. Good stuff.

With all the craziness that has taken over my formerly uneventful life in the last couple pf weeks, I really needed something simple, relatively mindless, but still fun to knit. Enter the Charade socks. I’ve knit these before and enjoyed the easy to remember stitch pattern and was really happy with the results, so I thought I’d revisit them. I don’t often revisit patterns – once is usually enough for me, but this was  comfort knitting. Besides,who doesn’t need more socks?

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I knit these up out of some Arequipa I had in the stash. This yarn is great. Affordable with great yardage, it feels lovely and comes in really nice colours. The photos don’t really capture the true colour of  the stuff – in real life, the colours are various shades of lavender and grey.  Very me. These  come about halfway up my shin and I still had a good-sized amount of yarn left over. I suppose I could weigh it to find out how much exactly, but really, who knows where the scale might be at this point. Besides, it’s a Weight Watchers kitchen scale of questionable accuracy that I found secondhand. I’ll stick to “good-sized.”

And as promised, here are a few pics of the finished lace scarf that I had been working on.

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Euroflax lace weight in French Blue was the yarn of choice for this project – again, a yarn that had been hanging out in the stash for a while.  This was only my second project with a linen yarn and while I really like the colour and the way is blocks out (so crisp!), I wasn’t thrilled with the knots. There were 6. Now, this doesn’t seem like a lot until you consider that there are only 570 yards  per cone.  And that all of the knot were in the first 250 yards or so. Not impressed. I prefer to think that I must have gotten a wonky cone, so if anyone out there has knit with this yarn, let me know about the knot situation.

The vine lace pattern was again pretty easy to follow (that’s the theme of my knitting right now: easy) and I enjoyed watching it grow.,but I was happy to finally come to the end of that naughty cone. I did briefly  considered keeping the scarf, but decided instead that it will  head overseas as part of the handmade chainmail project. Knitted goods are light and are easily (there’s that word again, easy!) packed into a padded mailer. I’ve really come to enjoy knitting jsut for teh sake of knitting without becoming too attached to the final product. I figure this is a good thing as I would soon be overrun with scarves (the socks I’m totally keeping).

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I feel better now that I’ve posted about some knitting. And now it’s off to pack up my knitting books (!).

Wow.  Just wow. The last 7 days have been a crazy, stressful, exciting and terrifying time. Let me explain. The Man and I have been doing what lots of people do, you know, planning a wedding (October 17th, please drop by!), saving for a house, working, you know, living life. Normal people stuff. Then the ceiling leaked. Drip, drip, dripping for 5 days before our landlord came to fix it. Then came the notices of street closures for the “third phase of the fresh water brook water treatment plan.” For those of you not lucky enough to live on my street, they’re diggong a 30′ deep trench down my side of the road, with work slated to run for the next 3 months. Good stuff.

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Every morning, weekends included if necessary, at 7am, it begins. I live in an old house that’s been converted to flats. It’s not well insulated or soundproofed. It’s no fun. The Man, who had been offshore for work, came home and decided we were putting in our notice and setting out for greener, and hopefully, quieter, pastures. Silly me, I thought he meant a different apartment. I was mistaken. He meant a house. He’s been stalking the housing market and saving for a while, so I knew it was  coming, I just didn’t anticipate it happening in a week. Yep, that’s right, a week. Why? Because he’s slated to go offshore tomorrow and wants it all squared away before he leaves. Madness! Insanity!

And before anyone thinks, “that’s not so bad, a new house, no construction, a little stress is worth it,” you’d have to see what we bought. It was described as   “having a lot of potential, a handy-man special, needing a little tlc.” What it needs is to be gutted. I am going to become a reno queen.

So, in the coming months you can expect a whole lot of reno updates – some of which will probably involve me crying  in my steel-toed workboots (an upside: new shoes!) and lots of pictures. Don’t worry though, knitting and sewing have not been abandoned. I finally (finally!) finished that blue lace scarf I had been working on for what seemed like forever. I’m just waiting for some laundry to accumulate so I can toss that bad boy into the washer (it’s linen, it’s tough, it can take it). I figure a good wash and block session and it should be nice and soft. I’ve  also just cast on for a nice pair of soothing  socks -nothing too fancy, as my mojo and I are still getting re-acquainted. I’ve also got a new sewing project or two  to share – which is what I actually meant to write about, but construction and related news won out.

And I can tell by the realtive calm that it must be break time, I must search out my cats from under the furniture and break the news of the Big Move.

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Don’t be alarmed – that is in fact  knitting that you see before you. Lace knitting in all its un-blocked glory.

So, my mojo disappeared. I don’t mean that as if there was an evening or two where I didn’t knit while watching television. I mean that my mojo took a look around, packed up it’s stuff and hit the road without leaving a forwarding address. No goodbyes, no hugs, no warning. Just gone. My yarn was lonely. My hands didn’t know what to do with themselves. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Yes, there’s sewing, which I really enjoy, but sewing  is not overly portable. I can’t just throw my sewing machine in my purse and head out the door. That’s just awkward.

I tried to force my mojo to come back. I started a pair of striped Noro socks. No good. Mittens? Not happening. Hat? I think not. When the prospect of socks, socks, doesn’t even get me excited, we have a problem. I was beginning to panic. What if my mojo found better digs and had no intention of ever coming back? What would I do then? How would I tell the yarn? Mojo, you need to come home.

After a couple of weeks, I think my mojo missed me. It would show up briefly – poke it’s head in and pat some yarn, look at some patterns on ravelry and leave. Gradually my mojo and I spent a little more time together – a row here, a row there. It hasn’t been easy, but my mojo and I are making it work. We even spent sometime cruising for yarn on the internet the other day and had to put the credit card away more than once.

I think that might be a good sign.

Miss Knit’s LBD

I’ve been doing some sewing. I mentioned a while back that the Man had given me some sewing lessons as a gift (NOT an Easter gift, just coincidentally given around Easter time. He’s an odd one sometimes). I  showed up at my first lesson with a project bag I had previously made, and declared that I wasn’t really interested in making a basic tote bag, but would rather make a skirt. In my possession was the traced out  pattern  and the fabric. I wanted to get started.

Now, I am not someone who enjoys doing things the easy way. I could have chosen an easier pattern, but that’s not my style. I chose the skirt featured on the cover of Stitch, a new magazine put out by Interweave Press.  I like the asymmetry of it and it’s something I would buy. Now, I am not a sewing neophyte. I can hold my own with a sewing machine. My goal with theses lessons was to learn how to correctly interpret a a pattern and learn some solid, professional finishing  techniques. I did not quite achieve my objective. I was disappointed by the the finished product for a few reasons (and there are no pictures of it because it’s in the process of being refashioned into something else). The biggest reason was the finishing. I am a knitter. When someone shows me a finished item, I always look at the “wrong” side after I admire the “right” side. The wrong side is just as important as the public side of an item. The wrong side of my skirt was just very wrong. Not to mention that my teacher insisted on assembling the skirt without looking at the directions and as a result the skirt I got was the mirror image of the one in the magazine. Not a big deal until putting it on becomes an exercise in frustration.  Bah.

Frustrated, but having learned a few things, I decided to give it a go on my own. Not with a remake of the Stitch skirt (which I may revisit because I do like the style), but with a dress by Vogue. Labelled “very easy, ” I figured I could handle it myself. With the exception of asking the Man’s mom for help laying things out on the bias (new to me), it was smooth sailing. And after a bit of custom fitting, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

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I’ve even worn this out and about doing errands – a big step for some one who finds wearing her own creations a little bit nerve wracking. A good sign I think. I was encouraged by my success and set about to make another dress – a wrap dress this time. It’s all finished, but there a couple little adjustments that I’d like to make before it’s grand debut.

And just before I go, here’s me, showing off my guns. Awesome.

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And in case you were worried, there was some knitting. Photo-less knitting, but knitting nonetheless. My mojo is creeping back, stitch by stitch.

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