Posts categorized "Home and Hearth"

Distracted

I've developed a bad habit. It's not like biting my nails or eating chips while I make dinner (I only do that once in a while, I swear). Instead it's a retreat into a cycle of doing a whole lot of nothing which fills time when I could be doing something else.

Here's how it plays out: I have a few moments to relax or I need second to unwind and I flip open the iPad and start looking at Twitter. Then I get engrossed in whatever is on my feed and it eats a ton of time (it could be anything like some great science story, a knitting discussion, a string of funny things (love Swear Trek) or well, that orange spectre who is consuming almost everyone's attention right now). Then I might check my email, play Two Dots or just tap around on the screen and I realize I've wasted time I could have used to knit, read a novel, tidy up, run,  watch TV and I get angry at myself about it.

Worse still, I notice it's become a family habit. We all have screen distractions and we have to consciously choose to put them down and interact, or do homework or play piano or just DO something. 

Yes, the screens are compelling and I like to know what's going on in my community (both actual and virtual) and around the world, but it's become so easy to retreat into that space and disconnect while connecting. I think the crappiness of the last year work-wise and the resultant fatigue helped entrench some of my behaviour. Now I'm trying harder to be mindful about spending my time before I grab my phone. Saying it here is one of those ways I keep myself accountable (and try, yet again, to blog more often!)

We started last night but watching a movie together (we rewatched Brave) and tonight I'm going to knit my never-ending Occam scarf and perhaps go for a run. 

It's not all distracted doom and gloom around here. I finished a blanket for my fabulous new nephew (I'm finally an Auntie!) Mitchell who is not yet ready for a debut on social media and am working on his woolly wardrobe. The kids are really great and parenting teens is just the right amount of challenging. AND I have a new job that is really awesome and even energizing. All are much better distractions.

 

 


September Paddle

We started September with a relaxing cottage weekend and then jumped in to the craziness of back to school (Emma grade 12 and Xander grade 11). This year we decided to ease the transition from summer by taking the first Friday off and going on a canoe trip to Algonquin Park. While the kids do plenty of outdoor stuff we haven't been out in the woods as a family for years. Mostly it's hard to motivate the kids to want to camp when they've just returned from 10 days of backwoods canoeing or six weeks of being a camp counsellor. I think having Uncle Mike and Aunty Hannah join us was the deciding factor.

It was fantastic. We paddled from Canoe lake to Tom Thomson lake and set up camp. We saw a moose hanging out near the boggy shore. We ate food cooked over a fire. We had hilarious escapades trying to string up our bear barrel (how can there not be suitable trees in the bush?). Sleeping in a tent was even mostly okay.

Saturday we planned a day trip and there were 10 portages. There were supposed to be less but Vanishing Pond vanished so we had to take another route. Emma was amazing--she carried the canoe for 8 of those portages. Xander was sherpa carrying all the paddles and food bag. Hannah lead the pack--she was 7 months pregnant at the time so didn't have to carry anything. I snuck in a few minutes of knitting on our lunch break.

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There was a lot of walking for a bit and then there was a lot of paddling. Big lakes, high winds and it was a bit less fun. Let's just say we slept REALLY well Saturday night. And it was pretty cold Sunday morning.

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 Sunday was a comparatively easy paddle back the way we came in. 

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I will admit that I was tired for a few days afterwards--that's more outside and exercise than I normally get--but it was also beautiful and quiet and a great way to hang out with my family and disconnect from the outside world. We're already talking about the next trip--perhaps with my soon-to-be-born niece or nephew! 


Restored

A last-minute decision to take a longer-long weekend was just the thing I needed. This summer has been a different one for me. Due to some obligations at home (teens need a lot of chauffeuring to their commitments) and work (where I'm filling in for someone on sick leave) I just didn't get to do the things I normally do: Like swimming in a lake, relaxing on the weekends and beating the heat by doing more than hiding in my air conditioned house.

When my brother and sister-in-law told me that no-one was going to be at their cottage Labour Day weekend, I leapt at the chance to be by the lake doing those things I love. I took the Thursday and Friday off and up we went to just do a whole lot of nothing. 

I drank beers with my legs in the lake. I sat watching the water with my coffee and reading in the morning. I read a whole book. Xander and I hunted Pokemon until we ran out of cell signal.

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I finished the pieces on my summer sweater (which I wasn't rushing to finish because even a summer sweater was too much to wear this year) AND wove in all the ends on the baby blanket on the outside table with the lake in view to make the job easier.

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We played board games at night and I discovered Xander is a kick-ass Scrabble player. I ate PopTarts and too many Oreo Thins (which are delicious). And I went paddle boarding and didn't fall in the lake.

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Yesterday while I was in bobbing in the lake, it hit me. I feel good. I feel like my old self. It's been a while and I took a few seconds to lament how challenging the last few years have been and how much being in a bad work situation really messed with me. Now that I've been out of it for two months, I see how feeling down-trodden and angry all the time really colours everything including my time not at work. And while I'm fortunate to have a good-paying job in a great place, that's not enough to sustain me. 

Having this little rest (and another one coming very soon--we're taking a 3 day canoe trip in Algonquin Park next Friday) really have restored me. Now I need to work on my strategy to keep things this way.

 


I'm going to be an Auntie!

This is exciting! My first niece or nephew will be born in late October. This is my brother's first baby and he's only 3 1/2 years younger than me, so I wasn't really banking on him having kids now that we're both in our forties.

Mindy Peyton (as the fetus is dubbed--long story and we don't know the sex) will also be the first, first cousin for my kids who have the honour of being the only grandkids on both sides until now.

I really need to get cracking on the knitting! Luckily I started this baby blanket back in the winter when I needed a mindless but colourful knitting project. It's all sewn together and all it needs is a border and for about 10,000 ends to be woven in. 

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Now I'm considering what this kid needs to be properly ensconced in hand knits as is befitting a child related to a knitter.

So throw your favourite patterns at me! I've started a favourites list here but I want options. 

I have green sparkle yarn, just waiting to be something perfectly silly for a baby :)


Sunday Sewing

My big plan to do Sunday Spinning keeps getting waylaid. This week's reason is my overflowing mending pile. A tiny tear in my down hoodie that explains the feathers, some tears in Xander's favourite hoodie, a hole in one of those thin-as-tissue Gap merino cardigans (seriously, the quality of these pieces is really going downhill) and my Carnaby Skirt that was never-quite-right.

Knitted skirts are a challenge. The knitted fabric wants to stretch and if you want your skirt to stay on, the amount of that stretch has to border somewhere between a bit tight and just enough. Mine was at, "gonna fall off if I take a deep breathe" so I decided, last spring to sew in a grosgrain ribbon around the waist.

Well, I finally got started this weekend. 

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This tutorial came in handy, because sewing is not something I've done a lot of. I'm almost done, but have been doing it in small doses because my ironing board is the only clean surface I have (because I had to vacuum the cobwebs off the ironing board and lug it upstairs) and I can't sit while I work.

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Looking at the skirt now, I realize it'll require more sewing to get it right. I find the buttons tug a bit and looking Ravelry, the ones that look the best are either on those where the pattern repeats align perfectly with their body or those who don't achieve that alignment, do some stabilizing sewing to fake it. My current idea is to sew ribbon down both edges of the skirt and add some  snaps to hold things in place better than the buttons.

If I really decide to get crafty, I will remove the buttons and sew them over the button holes and let the snaps do all the work. 

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. 

Sewing on the ribbon already seems to be doing the trick and will keep the itchy wool off my waist. Now let's hope the skirt still fits.


Spinning Spa

Last month I had some time alone.  Craig was away on business, Emma and Xander were away at camps and I had a whole week alone at home.  

(I'm just going to let that sink for those of you who never get a moment to yourself.)

I had to work, but was absolved of the responsibilities for life at home.  I managed to stave off malnutrition (seriously, there is no motivation to cook for one; I ate a lot of popcorn), watch far too many episodes of The Good Wife, went on a bit of a running binge (I ran seven days in a row) and got my fibre groove back.

I started a sweater (which just needs a zipper to be finished), finished Xander's socks AND took some fibre out for a spin.  I had no plan for the fibre except for it to join me on a relaxation exercise.

This is a Grafton Batt from the deep stash.   

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Check out the colours (I could already feel myself getting calmer as I rolled out the fibre for the photos). 

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There are so many colours in there. 

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I sat at the wheel and made a soft, fat single.  Slow spinning.  Watching the colours.  

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I was thinking it would be a lovely single, but it was a bit too loose and fat, so I decided to ply it (but not too tight).  I've been very wound up for a number of reasons and I was trying to make this yarn be what I needed to be: relaxed, calm, soft and a bit bouncy. 

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I think I got it. 

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Once it was dry I started on a cowl.  A relaxing project for a relaxing spinning project.  

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Since I last Blogged

Work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work...

Attended lots of year end school things for the kids including Emma's fabulous school dance night:

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And Xander's music night and honour roll night and volunteer recognition event:

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Work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work.  

Then Emma performed in her musical theatre show.  She was Maisy from Suessical (here she is with her besties--she did all their makeup):

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Then more work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work work until I started to get grumpy.  

I did sneak in some knitting, but sometimes not for days at a time which makes me kinda sad because knitting is a thing that makes me happy and when I'm really busy, it slows me down.

The good news is, on my birthday I unpinned this scarf from the blocking board.  It was a treat for me purchased at the Toronto Knitter's Frolic (after a week of 15 hour days!).  The yarn is from Shirley Brian and it comes in a plastic take out tub.  It's a four ply cotton and at intervals, one thread is swapped out for the next colour giving it the nice striped effect.  I knit the pattern that came with it--Mariner--and it was just detailed enough to keep me awake after all the work work work work work.

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Perfect for summer (I'm on a navy kick so it works with my wardrobe nicely).

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Will work be less crazy this month?  Hopefully.  It's summer and I want to enjoy it.


Knit Worthy


Last weekend the whole family got together to surprise my cousin France for her 50th birthday. It really was the whole family. France is one of eight kids and she has lots of nieces and nephews, aunts, cousins, in-laws etc.

It was a great weekend, she was totally surprised and it was fantastic to see my extended family.

France is totally knit worthy. And 50 is a knit worthy birthday.

France took me to see my first concert, Corey Hart. I was 14 and she was 19. Even though she lived in Cochrane and I lived in Thunder Bay (the big city) she was pretty cool. We hung out and she didn't treat me like a lousy kid.

Now, when five years doesn't matter, we always have fun together. She is easy going, loves to do anything, laughs easily and enjoys life. She doesn't knit and probably couldn't sit still long enough to learn, but she appreciates the craft and knows that it's a skill that requires time to master. She often covets my knitting, so this year was time to make her something.

I found the perfect yarn at the Knitter's Frolic. A gorgeous chameleon sock gradient box from Indigodragonfly.

I decided Unicorn Stripes would be an easy to knit, yet lovely pattern to show off the gradients. And I got to knitting a few hours after the Frolic.

The knitting was fun and easy. The yarn is delicious.

The finished cowl is gorgeous. This one was hard to give away.

The box and lovely poem from Ron of Indigodragonfly (a five line poem for each 5-colour set) make for pretty packaging.

France's reaction: totally knit worthy.

 



Knitting = Me Time

Lots of work and lots of parenting really cuts into knitting. I missed having a hour in front of the TV to relax with my knitting and make something that doesn't involve a computer.

I also realized that not taking that time for myself is not a good thing. I get grumpy when I don't have time for myself to do something that I enjoy. Turns out the Purple Purl newsletter gave me a nudge and I found a project that made me want to take the time and make something.

The Purple Purl was hosting a knit-along of the Seasons Hat.  Gripped by the longest coldest February I've experienced in Toronto, another hat seemed like a good thing to knit and I had yarn leftover from my much-loved Vinterblomster mittens which would make a nice coordinated, but not matchy-matchy set, so I was IN.

Less than a week later, I was almost done the colour work.  Every time I do a colour project I remember that one of the main reasons I knit is COLOUR.  I love pulling out the yarn and figuring out what colours to use.  This time I had the three Vinterblomster colours and added orange and a lighter grey.  

I find it hard to stop knitting when I start colour bands--I want to see how they'll turn out.  I also just enjoyed this yarn, the ease of the project and gave myself the time to get it done.

It took a mere 10 days.  It's perfect. 

 My photography is not so great.  I seem to always finish things at night!

 And this hat became part of my favourite instagram selfie ever.

I accidentally hit the button while turning to get better light.  (Let's keep that as our secret.) 


Sixteen

(Let's pretend this post happened on January 14th.)

Happy Birthday Emma.

Wow. 16.

It seems like the perfect time for your friends to treat you like a princess. I love that you are surrounded by people who love you for the fun, enthusiastic, joyful person that you are.

 
And it was smart of you not to assume the birthday princess role and try to stage a coup d'état at home. You're a great kid who is kind and helpful and knows when to push for things you want and mostly when to lay off.
 
I'm glad you like that rings we got you. The sunshine reminded me of the necklace you made at your 7th birthday when we did the bead party.
 
You wore that necklace for years; we restrung it when the cord broke, changed the sun pendant when it literally wore down to a blob (I'm a little disturbed to think of what it was made of).

 
This ring is a grown up, more permanent version.

I hope this year is amazing for you!