Saturday, December 12, 2009

Karate Cake and Knitting

To answer yarndork’s question on where I got the pattern for my niece’s sweater, it came from a Sirdar pattern book: Gorgeous Babies Knitting Book 264

The pattern for the blanket I’m knitting right is free from the Lion Brand website. I had to register first before they let me download it. It’s called the Heirloom Baby Blanket. I hope to have something to show soon.

Today was the dojo’s Christmas party. I baked a Bundt cake using my Nordic Ware Castle cake pan and it turned out quite well. Then my husband thought of a game he bought last week which had martial arts related pieces in it. It’s called Ghost Stories and he thought it would be cool if we could put the game pieces on the cake; so we did. People loved it!
It’s a brown sugar pound cake which I downloaded from the food network.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Niece’s Snuggly Sweater is Finally Done!

I’m still alive but barely knitting. I’m not ignoring anyone’s blog because of a lack of interest – please don’t take offense. I haven’t even touched mine for 2 months.

I’m LOVING LOVING LOVING karate and am considering dropping yoga because of my huge time commitment to exercise and the lack of knitting. I know the exercise is a healthier option; I’m trying to find balance between my leisure activities and work. I’m also now afraid I won’t finish that huge stack of UFO’s and unstarted projects with pending yarn in my closet before I die (some 60 years from now if I’m lucky). It’s scary. You think I exaggerate but when I look at my UFO’s that are over 10 years old and I haven’t touched them, you’ll understand why a mere 6 decades (if I’m healthy enough to do anything) is a cause for alarm.

I had these grand plans of knitting things for my kids every and am feeling like a bad mother because I haven’t made them special hats, scarves, mitts or sweaters in the past 2 years. Okay, I made them dinosaurs last winter, but it’s a small drop in the bucket of what I would like to do for them.

It took me a little over 5 months to complete my niece’s sweater doing no other knitting projects – that’s gotta be the longest it’s taken me to do a single item. Anyways, I’m happy with the results; I think my sister’s family will be, too.

I’m on to a new project, not my UFO’s. Friends of ours had a baby not too long ago and were promised a blanket. I better get cracking and hope it doesn’t take me another 6 months to finish a project.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Here’s one of my UFO’s (unfinished objects). It’s a Scrabble™ bag and it will say “Fran’s Game” on it (it is my favourite game after all).

I really haven’t knitted much since my last blog; hence, I’m forced t resort to unfinished objects. I’m pathetic, I know. I’m working tomorrow, too. Now, it seems my spare time is going to karate and yoga. That OK. I think it’s a healthier life style for me. I know I feel and look better. Their motto is “Energize Your Life” and it truly does. I do leave there felling stress relieved an energized.

My kids just got their yellow belts on Tuesday and that’s why we took them out for dinner yesterday and a movie this afternoon (because I need to work tomorrow). The movie was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. It was really good! I’m so proud of them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to the Yarn

It’s about time that this knitting blog became a knitting blog again. I know; I’ve been pathetic in my knitting. Truthfully, I haven’t really had time to knit since coming back from vacation. Almost three months after starting, I have about half a sweater for my niece; so slow.
I just started taking a family karate class with the kids this past week. The style we’re doing is Goju Ryu (hard/soft). It was so nice to get back to it. The last time I took karate was 15 years ago when I was doing my Master’s degree. That time, I took Shotokan (hard). There are some similarities. Sensei and one other helper there said it looked like my former training was still with me (which was very nice to hear). I can’t tell you how wonderfully stress relieving and therapeutic it is to be allowed to hit someone!
Actually, I was very soft because I don't like hurting people. They kept telling me to strike harder; that's hard to get used to. Honestly, just punching empty air and the warm up before practice is very stress relieving.

My veggie garden is slowly coming to an end. Oh well, it had to happen sooner or later. I also have some interesting sunflower shots again. My son’s largest sunflower had small buds along the stalk a little while ago. Those little buds turned into flowers. I was very surprised; I didn’t know his sunflower variety was capable of that.
This sunflower’s stem was partially snapped in one of our storms. It’s amazing how resilient this flower is. Notice that it just kept on growing from where the stem snapped and curved upward again.

I really wish I had more interesting knitting things to show. I guess I’m going to have to start showing my UFO’s which got put to the wayside when higher priorities came along.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mr. Golden Sun

Vacation was great! I needed another couple of weeks. We went to Alberta to visit my husband’s and his family. The cooler, rainy weather in Ontario followed me to Alberta and now back again to Ontario. A storm we had last week snapped the head off one of my son’s sunflowers. They are remarkably resilient. I’m amazed this one survived given it’s head is very weekly attached to it’s stalk.

One of the things we wanted to see this time around was the Columbia Icefield. To that end, we headed toward Red Deer and camped there for a couple of nights. It was the first time the children and I had ever been camping. The icefield was breathtaking. It is very odd to have to bundle up in the middle of summer to go onto an ice field. We even drank glacier water!

We went to Jasper in the Rockies to camp that night. It’s bear country. Luckily, the only wild life we saw was bighorn sheep.

On the way back to High River, we stopped by Sunwapta Falls and saw a very interesting van.

The next day, we went to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. It’s a UNESCO national heritage site and has a fabulous visitor centre.And here’s my favourite rainbow picture to date.
It was a good vacation but it was really good to be home again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Timely Vacation – A Month without Knitting

I have absolutely no knitting pictures. It was another 200+ hour month and my daughter’s birthday in between. I haven’t touched the needles since my last posting; pathetic, I know. My garden has run amok. I’ve spent the better part of today trying to tame it again.

Last week-end was the first time we were able to do some harvesting. We dined on some zucchini, buttercrunch lettuce, and green beans that night. My daughter’s Nasturtiums are doing very well, too.

Today is the first day of my two week vacation. We’ll be flying out to Alberta this year as well. I won’t be blogging during that time but I will be spending some of my vacation knitting and catching up on other people’s blogs. I haven’t been deliberately ignoring you. I haven’t lost interest in your blogs. Thank you to readers who haven’t given up on my blog yet. Hopefully, I will get some interesting pictures to write about when we get back. It feels so strange to have free evenings again where I turn on the computer for leisure and not work.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stake Anyone?

The garden is coming along quite nicely. It was a very rainy week so the garden was happy. I didn’t think it had grown much height wise but boy was I wrong when I went to out to take a closer look. They had just grown along the ground and everything is flowering so I should have some nice veggies pretty soon. My son’s first green bean plant already has 5 beans on it. It seems the marigolds are working for keeping the pests away. Rush visit to Canadian Tire to get some stakes. And voilà!
I don’t think I’ve seen my lavender so lavenderAnd a little unexpected surprise. I've never had a plant growing in a downspout before.
The sweater’s coming along nicely, too. It’s been pretty plain stocking stitch up until now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Day at the Zoo, and Knitting Too

My Dad won a special Father’s Day Package for the Metro Toronto Zoo by listening to CHFI FM98.1. It was for him and three other guests. Being the person he is, he thought his grand-kids would love to go, and since my Mother wasn’t particularly interested, he gave the whole package to us. It entitled us to a barbeque lunch in a special area with other winners of the draw. There were buskers and a special animal visitor. We also got free parking, free entry to the zoo, free zoo-rail pass for the day, and free face painting the kids (or adults if you wished). What a great way to spend Father’s Day!

Peacock in Tree
Giraffes - always a favouriteJellyfish – Believe it or notKangaroos and Wallabies – Oh MyI’m now doing my Mother a favour. Over a year ago, she bought some Sirdar Snuggly yarn and a pattern book to make my other niece a sweater. She hasn’t touched it because the yarn, in her opinion, is expensive and she’s too afraid of screwing up. So she’s asked me to do the knitting. I wasn’t going to accept any requests from other family members for a while and REALLY FOCUS on finishing some of my existing UFO’s, but I thought, if I didn’t do it now, there wouldn’t be enough yarn to knit my niece a sweater later. After all, it’s already been over a year. By my standards, the pattern is a simple one but my Mother was still intimidated by it. I don’t get it; she used to knit cables when we were kids. It looks simple now; the cabling only comes in the upper bodice area and there’s really not much of it. You’ll see as I go along.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Coming Up Roses

I put the buttons on my niece’s sweater today. I went with something pretty neutral – it’s more to my sister-in-law’s taste I think. She tends to go for gender neutral things. She also plans to use it for her forthcoming son so I couldn’t use some cute daisy buttons I found at Michael’s.
The garden is doing quite well. My patio rose tree is blooming nicely.
My daughter’s nasturtiums are emerging.
And the marigolds seem to be keeping the rabbits at bay.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Knitting Accomplished! And new shoes, too.

I finished my niece’s sweater but I still need to put buttons on it. I still have to go buy buttons. Here’s a picture anyways; I couldn’t help myself.

I also bought shoes today! I only went to buy one black pair to go with my suit. Instead, I bought three. The additional two pairs were on sale! I couldn’t pass that up. They were just too good to resist. Can you believe that the shoe sizes from left to right in the picture below are 9, 8.5, and 8? And they all fit perfectly.
I didn’t want to want to buy anything too plain even if it was for a business suit; that just wouldn’t be me. So, I got the black shoes with gold heels and little studs. I purchased them at NINE WEST which seems to be the only place I can find heels that are actually comfortable.

The other two pairs came from STYLESENSE and are just all out funky; very me. The lavender floral shoes are so cute and comfy and way too pretty. Just look at the underside of the shoe.
It’s as pretty as the inside. I don’t want to walk on them because they’re so pretty. Well, I’m sure I can find a way to convince myself.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Finally! Fran Gardening?

Knitting taking a back seat? Unthinkable! But true.

I must admit that gardening has taken precedence in my life; sadly, by necessity. It’s that time of year when you have to plant and weed before nature runs amok in your backyard. Well, we were too late so there was a lot to be done. I started my seedlings indoors too early and they died before I got to plant them or maybe I didn’t know how to sustain them properly once they’d sprouted. So, we’ve bought more plants and I’ve done some direct planting of seeds and we’ll see what happens.

We made a nice little vegetable patch, which I hope will get enough sunlight, and hubby put in stepping stones to get to the water faucet. It’s a solid plan, now let’s see if it will work. It’s been one day and the plants seem to be intact so I guess the marigolds are doing their job.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Excited About Something Not Yarn?!

I am typing this entry on my new Dell Studio 17 laptop! I was so excited about it, I thought it definitely deserving of a blog entry. It’s absolutely gorgeous and extremely practical not to mention powerful. My hubby prepared the specifications for the order since I’m a bit tech un-savvy in the hardware department.

The design is called New World 4 and it’s by Joseph Amedokpo in support of the PRODUCT (RED) initiative to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.

Just when you thought screens couldn’t get any better or clearer, they did. The quality of the images is getting extremely close to the level of my HDTV. This laptop also comes with a separate number pad (nice), but that means my hands are a little off-centre on the keyboard initially. I’ve been automatically placing my hands one position to the right of where they should be (laugh to myself about it every time I have to look down and think of where to put my fingers). And Vista DEFINITELY takes some getting used to.

I had to get a cool green laser mouse to go with the laptop and they work perfectly with the funky pink laptop case which DH got me for Christmas 2006.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring has Finally Sprung!

Warmer weather is here at last. But with my flowers:

Come the weeds. Good thing our friend, baby rabbit, comes by from time to time to help out by eating the dandelions. Unfortunately, he can’t eat them all fast enough. It’s incredible; our yard has been overrun by weeds in a week!

And I got some knitting done. Voilà, the sleeves!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

STAR TREK is Awesome!

Wednesday was our 14th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there!

To celebrate both, we saw the new STAR TREK movie today and it was fabulous. So many tear-jerkers, action packed, unexpected twists and turns, great special effects, and great acting. What’s not to like?

Work’s still very busy – not much time to knit. Today was a day we set aside for ourselves.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Busy, busy

It was a hectic week-end with sister’s family coming to visit. What started as a beautiful Saturday ended up with a freak thunderstorm that took our gazebo aloft even though we had cinder blocks on the posts. We tied those cinder blocks to the posts now and I’ve put big planter boxes on them too.

I finished the front of the sweater for my niece. I made one slight alteration to the pattern. On the front placket, instead of casting on stitches for the right side of the placket and then having to sew it to the inside of the sweater, I picked up and knit stitches from the back of the left placket.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Got Knitting Done!

Woo hoo! I finished the back of a sweater for my niece. It’s from Elsebeth Lavold’s book, The Sentimental Journey Collection. The pattern is called Jasper Child.
I messed up a little on the pattern repeat, though. There should be more cable repetition vertically but I misread the pattern – oops. Oh well, I’m still happy with it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring is in the Air – Not!

Last Sunday, I started some seeds with the kids. I couldn’t believe how fast they started sprouting. The kids are so excited. This is the first time I’ve started anything successfully from seeds. Those peat pellets are amazing!
Up until now, the weather has been nice and spring-like. We haven’t had snow since the end of February. So naturally, tomorrow the forecast is calling for some wet snow. They’re forecasting a cold week in general – wee.

In other news, I couldn’t make it to the Yarn Factory Outlet sale in Listowel this year because of the number of hours we’ve had to work the past few months. Luckily, a friend of mine could go and was willing to pick up some goodies for me. There was only one thing of interest to me – Bernat GLOW IN THE DARK yarn. I scored big time!

I really hope they’re not serious about discontinuing this yarn as the website indicates. I haven’t heard any other news supporting that. I want to make more glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs for my niece and nephew. My kids also have some ideas of "other things" they want to see glow in the dark.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


We finally got a gazebo! We bought it off a family nearby who needed to get rid of it so our timing was very fortuitous. Although we bought it last Sunday, we didn’t get around to putting up the curtains on it until today. I like the double curtain idea. The inner curtain is just a mesh for insect protection and the outer one is opaque for more privacy. I can’t wait to use it.
I was really worried about drilling into our concrete patio to anchor it. My husband went to the Home Depot and ended up talking to a nice lady there who told him she just anchored hers with cinder blocks since you’re supposed to put it away in the winter. I like this idea much better. It also allows us the flexibility to move it elsewhere on the property should we change our minds.
Now I just need a patio set to put under it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

St. George’s Cross Baby Blanket Finished!

It’s done! At long last, it’s done!

It’s not that it was hard, on the contrary. It was just a lack of time that prevented progress. I’m pleased with the results and how flat my mitred corners lie.

The final dimensions are approximately 30” x 36”. It’s not blocked. I mean, why bother when it’s going to be stretched over a baby carrier or pulled by tiny fists or chewed on by tiny gums.

To recap, I picked up stitches all around the edge of the St. George’s cross portion using 4 circular needles.

I kept knitting using directional mitred increases at the corners and incorporating the Inverness Diamond pattern into the blue border.
I ended by using an I-cord edging which was useful in binding off simultaneously. What do I mean by this? When I was ready to bind off (this begins at a corner in my case), I cast on three stitches on the left needle where I already had stitches. *Knit the first two stitches individually, slip the third, knit the next stitch on the left needle. Insert the left needle in front of last two stitches on the right needle and knit them together. Pass all three stitches back onto the left needle. Repeat from *. By doing this, you are casting off your stitches one at a time but creating a smooth I-cord edging while you’re doing it. This is my modified version of a method in Nicky Epstein’s book, Knitting Over The Edge: Unique Ribs Cords Appliques Color Eclectic - The Second Essential Collection of Decorative Borders.
To neatly finish off the I-cord edging, I used Kitchener Stitch to graft the beginning to the end seamlessly. Aside from the knitty link I have here for the Kitchener Stitch, there are many internet resources like YouTube that demonstrate it.

Yup, I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the results.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

She’s back - and wants to thank everyone!

Holy cow! I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I’ve blogged. Thank you all for your patience. This is the first week-end my husband and I have been at home together in quite a while. I forgot what it was like to spend time as a family. My husband’s trip went well. While he was gone, I got sick and have been sick and sleep deprived for the past two weeks. I finally got some rest (and some knitting done – thank god!) this week-end.

I would like to thank lara griffiths, cornchowder, and Domie’s mom for nominating me on February 24 and 25, 2009 for a Kreativ Blogger Award. I would also like to thank hopieknits for nominating me on Feb. 9, 2009 for a Kreativ Blogger Award. That makes 32 people (8 per nomination) that I would be required to nominate. I would like to thank Mr. Spooky for tagging me on Jan. 28, 2009 and Steffi for tagging me on Oct. 3, 2008. I would have to tag eight people (four people for each). That brings the total number of people I would have to nominate/tag up to 40. I believe that covers most of the list of bloggers in my right side bar. I was so touched by the supportive comments I received on my “Venting” post, and honoured by the three subsequent Kreativ Blogger Award nominations I received on that post, that I was tempted to break my own rule of “I don’t do chains (tag, mail, etc.)” because I didn’t want to insult the wonderful people that nominated me. But to break that rule would have been unfair to Steffi, Mr. Spooky, and hopieknits to whom I had already explained that “I don’t do chains” and who were very kind and understanding about it. Thank you all for reading my blog and being so supportive.

I’m here with “Rocky” (one of my daughter’s rocks) and some fresh guacamole my husband just made from a Julia Child recipe. My daughter said Rocky wanted to watch me work on the computer. My husband arranged the corn chips to (in his words), “…look like the sunflower that you are”. They’re so cute!

I had to show you the beautiful gifts my hubby brought me from his trip. The hotel his course was held at overlooks Harvard and MIT. Naturally, the tote bag became a knitting bag. The silver and purple bead earrings are awesome!

The rat race begins again tomorrow. Two weeks to a very tight deadline on March 30 so we can’t take time off to spend March break with our children. The two weeks following that being a pretty intense time with inspectors on site.