"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."- Leonardo da Vinci


Happy New Year

Getting ready for the countdown... Hope all of you have a happy, healthy, adventurous and inspired 2011.


Christmas Eve

It was Christmas Eve. A. was in bed, milk and cookies were set out for Santa, the tree was lit, the gifts wrapped and set out, the table was set for the next morning, and as I sat down with a glass of wine to relax and take it all in, I thought, why not knit a little Christmas ornament? I found a pattern in Debbie Bliss’ “A knitter’s year”, and in about an hour had knitted this:


Merry Christmas

To everyone out there, to all my faithful (and occasional) readers, Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. Hope your holidays are filled with joy, peace of mind and happiness.


Knitting to stay sane

I’ve had to deal with a few health-issues lately. Nothing serious, just unpleasant little trips to the emergency room. In any case, there was some pain involved and to keep my mind (and hands) preoccupied I finished a few knitting projects. I am introducing one of them here.
I am a big fan of “the purl bee”. They have tons of great ideas and I thought that the baby rattle is adorable and a great gift idea.  So this is what it looks like:
It’s rather large, but this is my first try. I will invest in some smaller needles and thinner yarn, but overall I am pleased with the result.


A winter escapade

One of the things I miss about Europe at this time of the year are the Christmas Markets, so I was thrilled to find out that this tradition is spreading to our side of the ocean. For the past couple of years, in the Montreal area, there are 3 Christmas Markets taking place, and we visited one yesterday.
The temperature was perfect, just below zero, not too cold. The market we drove to is called “The Marché de Noël et des Traditions de Longueuil”, and only a 30 minute ride away. It’s a collection of about 40 wooden cabins, set up in a square. Local vendors sell everything from hand-made items like decorations, paintings, wood-toys, artisan pieces, knits, to food like cheeses, jams, breads, chocolates, chocolate covered cranberries and even ice-wine.

Two of the stalls sold hand-knit things like sweaters, mitts, scarves and hats, really warm and cozy looking items out f alpaca wool, which is great for our cold Canadian winters. If only I had the time…..I would love to have a little hut like that for my own creations. So many ideas…..so little time!
We walked around, warmed up with some mulled wine. Tasty stuff! I wrote down the recipe for anyone who is interested, I know I’ll try and make some:
Spiced Wine
4 liters of red wine
1 cup brown sugar
1 lemon and 3 oranges cut into thin slices
The peel and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 star anise
1 pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups water
Mix all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let infuse for an hour.
Serve warm

Santa was there to talk to the kids and gather their letters to him, and A., even though reluctant at first, immediately warmed up to him once the was “bribed” with chocolate and candy-cane. A little train took all the kids for a ride around the market, and it was a hit!
There were a couple of fire-pits with bales of hay arranged around them, where you could sit and relax. It was a really cozy atmosphere and I hope that the market stays popular, because it is a charming tradition to uphold.


Christmas is coming

I am not a winter person. Not even a little bit. Countless times I've said that come November I could barricade myself inside the house and not leave again until April. With one exception, Christmas.

I find the time starting with the first Advent enchanting. It's the first snow, the decorations, the smell of freshly baked cookies, the hot chocolate, spiced wine, roasted chestnuts and all the anticipation. Granted, it's hard to avoid the commercialization of the holidays, but it's ultimately up to each and every one of us to set limits, to make them special, to remind ourselves of what it's all about.

So I'm starting my own family Christmas traditions.

Because one of my most cherished treasures from childhood is an Advent calendar my grandmother had, I've decided to make one for A. myself.

He's only three years old, so my choices were somewhat limited. I thought for the first year I'll keep it simple. So I bought a 25 piece puzzle (I realize 24 would be the correct number, but it's not that easy to find), with a theme we're currently fascinated with (pirates), envelopes, foam snowflakes, string, clothespins, threw in some chocolate, and....voila!

I cannot wait to start building memories with my own little family, and can only hope that when my son is an adult he’ll have fond recollections of these times.


Winnie the....Oink?

We all have that one favorite toy from childhood, that best friend we carried everywhere, whom we confided secrets to and without which we could not sleep. I remember vividly how my sister had this pink blanket that never left her side. I myself had a little grey elephant that has miraculously survived, crossed an ocean and now sits perched on a shelf in my son’s room. There is something comforting about a child’s favorite toy and with this in mind I decided to knit one for my son.
When I first started knitting I made simple things for him, cubes, balls, a little car, straightforward patterns, but now I’ve felt ready to attempt a more complicated item. A bear perhaps? I started looking for patterns, and my first thought was Debbie Bliss. I love her patterns, she has modern, stylish clean ideas, and exactly the type of knitting I like. So, pattern in hand I began. It looked really promising once all the individual pieces were finished.
I started sewing the pieces together, filling the bear. Once the head was attached to the body and the face was also completed I proudly showed it to my son, who promptly asked: “Why a cochon (pig), mommy?” Needless to say, I was completely deflated. I stuffed him in a bag and did not touch it for another week. Then I decided that regardless of whether the project somewhat failed, I should finished what I started, so I out it all together. Here he is:

What's the verdict? There is something a little .....piggish about him, I agree. Maybe at some later point I will give it another try.
For now, I will concentrate on finishing Maria's bolero, it's almost done, and and least with that I know I'll be pleased with the end result. Practice makes perfect, right?


Great beginnings

I’ve had this glamorous image of what blogging is. I’ve pictured sitting in front of a cool laptop, at my favorite desk, with a steaming cup of tea or coffee, maybe a bouquet of sweet-smelling flowers next to me, gazing out at a beautiful view. The thoughts are just coming to me and the words are simply flowing, I am being witty and entertaining.
Well, the setting is not exactly what I pictured, but at least I have the cup of tea. As for the thoughts, we’ll have to see, right?
So no more delaying, no more finding excuses to wait for my first post. This is it.
This will be a blog about my artistic endeavors. I’ve decided I need a creative outlet, and as it turns out I am pretty good at knitting. It’s relaxing and I get a great sense of accomplishment from finishing a project. So I am armed with a stack of patterns and I have a million ideas whizzing around in my head.
Let knitmania begin!!