Friday, November 25, 2011

What's Up With Me?

I realized yesterday that it's been a loooong time since I've done a blog post, so what's been going on with me?  A whole lot of knitting mostly.  I've gone back into knitting mode lately which probably has something to do with the colder weather setting in.

I've been knitting for charity...

Starting a new pair of socks...

Then there's the hat I've been trying to make for Richard who seems to have an unusually large round head that's hard to knit for.  I'm on my second attempt at this hat, adding more stitches so hopefully it'll fit this time...

I've been making some cards too...

And on the scrappy front, the only thing that's new there is that these two wonderful paper packs have found a home in my ever-growing collection, thanks to my sister, Jen.  I absolutely LOVE these two paper lines!

And that's a little bit of what's been going on in my corner of the world.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shimelle's Sketch of the Week

I recently completed another one of Shimelle's weekly sketches.  This one is from the week before last and it is such an original design that was perfect for a butterfly photo which I had taken quite some time ago.

I loved working on this page as it is very different from what I normally do.  You can find the sketch here.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Behold the Sock!

The big sock.  The really big sock.  Definitely not a thing of beauty but a sock of sorts nevertheless.  When Jen and I first started on this project together, I envisioned weeks and weeks of hard work to produce a finished item.  I figured if our instructional book "I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks!" failed to teach us, we could perhaps write our own book called "I Believe I Can't Knit Socks".  But we followed the advice of the nice lady at the fancy wool shop, did whatever the pattern asked us to do without thinking too much about it, and just as she told me - it all worked out fine in the end, and in only a matter of days.

My sock doesn't really fit me very well.  We should have opted for the smaller size.  It's loose in the heel and long in the toe, however, I enlisted the help of Chris as a foot model.   He has rather large, wide feet which we've often referred to as hobbit feet.  Seeing that sock on his foot made me feel proud.  It looks great and now I know how it would fit me if only it was the right size.  Too bad he's not interested in owning this pair of socks.  Whaaat?  Goofy-looking, hand-knit socks are not all the rage with twenty-year-olds these days?  Oh well.

As I knit my sock I would sometimes burst out laughing at how funny it looked and I couldn't help but think of how much it reminded me of a funny picture that Chris once drew as an assignment for Grade 7 English class.  The girl in his drawing is wearing socks which look amazingly like mine.

His teacher, Mr. Greenberg, wrote on the back of the paper, "Is she dressed for winter wearing those socks?", insinuating that they wouldn't keep her warm.  Yes, Mr. Greenberg, if those socks are anything like what I just made, they would definitely keep her warm!

This has been such a great learning experience.  I will eventually knit the mate to my really big sock but for now Jen and I have decided to move on to something different.  We'll probably search for a more refined sock pattern - perhaps even using the superfine wool which we originally purchased and even smaller needles.  It would be nice to create something that resembles a real sock with a grafted toe and not some pointy-toed medieval stocking.  And, shock of all shocks, there are even whisperings of knitting sweaters...

I'm proud of us, Jen, really proud.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Things - My 10 Favourite Music CDs

The 10th of the month has rolled around yet again so it's time to have a bit of fun with Shimelle Laine's "10 Things on the Tenth of the Month".  This month I decided to keep it simple and go through my iTunes library to put together a list of my favourite albums.

2428 items - 7.2 days - 12.20 GB of music and here's what I chose:

 1. Coldplay - X & Y

 2. Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

3. U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind

4. The Smiths - Meat is Murder

5. The Tragically Hip - Yer Favourites

 6. The Dears - No Cities Left

7. Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark

8. Blue Rodeo - Greatest Hits

9. Matthew Good - Live at Massey Hall

10. John Mayer - Heavier Things

And that's it for me this month.  For more lists check out Shimelle's blog where you'll find links to plenty more.  It's so much fun to see what everyone's been thinking about and what types of lists they've compiled.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Awesome Adventure in Sock-making

This adventure has definitely taken a turn for the better.  After all of my mishaps of Monday, I did manage to complete my sock leg, all 8 inches of it, by yesterday evening so I was ready to move on to the next step with Jen today.  I arrived at her house this morning with this...

...and yes, some apprehension about what was to come next - the heel!  The dreaded heel.  Making a heel has always seemed like a daunting impossibility to me but we worked together to understand the pattern.  First we made a heel flap and then amazingly we both knit a heel!  Truly a thing of beauty to behold and to be honest, it wasn't even hard to make.  I can't believe I just said that!

The toughest part was picking up stitches and then knitting the foundation round before continuing on to the foot.  However, Jen and I have discovered that we function great as a team.  The things that she doesn't understand, I do.  And what I don't understand, she does.  It works out beautifully.

Despite our success today, there is one downside to these socks - they are BIG!  Really big.  Regardless of how big the circumference of my ankle is, we now see that we should have opted for one size smaller than what we chose.  These are like socks for giants.  I think I'll just consider them to be a hybrid - a cross between a sock and a slipper - and I'm going to call them "sloppers".  If you could see this sock in person you'd know how truly fitting that name is.  Here's my REALLY BIG sock in all its glory.  All that's left to do now is finish off the foot and toe.

There were a few minor mistakes made along the way today but if I had to pick one word to describe our experience.......nirvana.  Pure and simple sock-making nirvana.  Who knew socks could be so exciting?

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Misadventures in Sock-making

Yesterday was the start of my journey into the world of sock-making with Jen.  I should probably start off by saying two things.  First, this was all my idea.  Second, a "cankle" is defined as: the absence of a defined ankle on a person - whereby the calf of the leg merges directly into the foot. The calf appears to replace the ankle - hence the term "cankle."

"We can do this, Jen", I said to my sister, who's not always as keen in taking on these projects as I am.  "Let's prove to ourselves that we can knit socks."  Besides, we've heard that if you can do a knit stitch and you can do a purl stitch then you can basically make just about anything.  That, plus the nice lady at the fancy yarn store advised me to just do whatever the pattern asks you to do, no matter how strange it might seem, and it will all work out fine in the end.

First step was to measure our ankles to determine what pattern size to use.  Jen came in at a tidy 8 inches, and me?  9-1/2 inches!  Could that possibly be right?  I measured again.  Yep, definitely 9-1/2 inches.  I know my ankles have never been my best feature but 9-1/2 inches?!  I believe a flush of embarrassment crept up my face as we looked at the pattern and discovered that the largest size was for a 9" ankle.  Luckily logic kicked in that something was amiss here and a third measurement determined that (a) I don't use a tape measure very well and (b) my ankles are only 8-1/2 inches around.  Phew!  For the rest of the day there were lots of "cankle" jokes tossed in my direction.  And we laughed...and laughed.

With the pattern size finally settled we cast on our 56 stitches, divided them onto four needles and that's where the adventure really started - for me anyway.  Everything seemed to go rather smoothly for Jen.  An apparently important first step was to "wrap" the first stitch in order to produce a smooth upper edge on the sock.  Hmmm...okay.  Jen mastered this easily.  I wrapped the wrong stitch, resulting in a weird bunched-up knot.  No smoothness going on there.  I quickly realized that my best escape from this situation was to simply start over.  I unraveled, cast on again, divided stitches onto four needles.  Jen waited patiently.  I got the first stitch wrapped into relative smoothness.  Yes!  We were ready to really roll now.

Next step in the process - knit 1, purl 1 until the sock cuff measures 8 inches.  No problem.  Easy.  We can do this.  But...the wool is thin, all those needles dangle and are hard to manage in the beginning and they make an incessant "clink clink clinking" as you work.  Twice Jen forgot to use her empty needle to knit with and had to backtrack but that seemed to be the extent of her troubles.  I, on the other hand?  It wasn't long before I'd somehow managed to create two extra stitches.  Not to mention the fact that when you're laughing and talking a lot, it's quite easy for "knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1" to become "knit 1, purl 1, purl 1, knit 1" or some other equally wrong variation of those stitches.  At least for me, that is.  And that's definitely not a good thing when what you're looking to create is a ribbed sock cuff.

I believe it was at this point that Jen looked at me in all seriousness and said, "Do you want to quit?  I'm fine with quitting, you know".  If you've been a reader of Jen's blog for any length of time, you probably know by now that she's the first to admit that she has no problem giving up on projects.  And she's fine with that.  But no way, I could not allow it to happen, not this early in.  We forged ahead.

The needles became easier to manage, they didn't seem to clink as much or maybe we just got used to the sound of them.  I found a way to "lose" my two extra stitches by knitting stitches together (nobody'll notice, right?) and our sock cuffs began to really take shape.  Jen plugged away, effortlessly it seemed, no mistakes at all, a nice even cuff in the works.  Mine on the other hand appeared misshapen somehow, irregular in size and really wide.  No matter.  My big socks might pool around my cankles but at least I'd be able to say, "I made these", with pride.  We laughed some more.  And we kept on knitting.  Jen flawlessly.  Effortlessly.  And me?  Well, basically okay...until this...

"What is that?  How did this happen?" I said.  "Let me see!" said Jen.  "No, I can't show you!" I answered, as I sat there howling with laughter.  What IS that loopy thing, you ask?  A few moments of analysis led us to the conclusion that at some point (most likely while I was laughing hysterically about my droopy socks pooling around my cankles), I completely skipped knitting the stitches on one needle and dragged that tail of yarn across to the next needle.  What to do, what to do?  Robert suggested that I use it as a sort of bootstrap - a "sockstrap" we could call it - which would aid me in pulling up my socks.  Clever, I had to admit and we all laughed again.  Lots.  But, after a few minutes of reflection I realized that my best escape from this situtation was...ya, you guessed it - to just start over again.

So, I unraveled and Jen knit on - knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1.  Flawlessly.  Effortlessly it seemed.  She was amazed at how calm I was considering I'd just spent the better part of six hours knitting, only to end up with this... accomplishment of the day - a ball of wool with some of it now wrapped around the outside.  Oh, and four empty needles.

I did learn three valuable things however -

1. I am definitelly a much more patient person as I age.

2. They say that laughter is good for the soul and if that's the case then I'm going to keep knitting socks because I haven't laughed so much or so hard in a long, long time.

3. Our families need not worry that they'll all be receiving "lovely" hand-knit socks for Christmas.  There's no way that'll ever happen!

And now, I've got work to do.  I need to have a sock cuff finished by tomorrow.  I'm going back to Jen's place to knit socks!  Wish me luck. ;-)

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"A Walk Through History"...

I seem to be on a bit of a knitting tangent lately.  I'm like that.  I get totally wrapped up in something and let all my other hobbies fall to the wayside while I focus on that one thing.  But after making three hats and countless dishcloths, my fingers are achy and my hands are dry from handling all that yarn so I turned back to scrapbooking and got another layout done.

We visited Fort Edmonton Park this past July.  This is your typical heritage park where you visit old houses and buildings and look at old furniture, household items, farm implements, etc. and learn how everyday life worked a long while ago.

Jen loves Fort Edmonton Park.  I don't know exactly how many times she has visited the park with Robert, but I know it's enough to make him groan when somebody mentions Fort Edmonton Park.  I did the tour of the park with Jen and Rob in the summer of 2010 when I came to Edmonton on vacation before moving here.  This year we went back to the park because Richard hadn't been and Matthew wanted to come along for the trip as well.  It was a good way to spend the day but I think I've had my fill of Fort Edmonton for a while.

I used this sketch from Sketchy Thursdays:

Jen talked about how much fun it would be to have a season pass but somehow I don't think she'll be able to talk anybody into joining her on that one!

Until next time...
Susan :-)