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


A favorite toy, another try

It's always been important to me that I teach my children a love of reading. Books are such a special way to learn about the world, but also escape. My kids' library is quite extensive, and we keep adding to it. It's fun to research books, and watch them get lost in the stories.

One of my favourite childhood reads  is "The Velveteen Rabbit". It's such a heartwarming, charming story. At the moment, Aidan is in superhero mode, so this particular story does not appeal to him too much, but I am hoping that maybe when Sienna is older she will learn to love it also.

In the meantime, as sort of a preparation, I thought I'd give her something to love, cuddle and play with. When I first started getting serious about my knitting, one of the projects I attempted, was a bear for Aidan. It was certainly ambitious at that time, and the result was a toy resembling a pig more then a bear. (you can read all about it here).

But that was a few years ago. I felt ready to give it another try. A little stuffed animal for Sienna. Are you familiar with the "Bunny girl in a dotty dress" pattern by Julie Williams? It's absolutely adorable.

It is a very clear pattern, with lots of photographs to clarify the instructions. If you are not a fan of seaming however, stay away, because the majority of your time will be spent doing just that. But it will be worth it in the end! 

Now I only hope that she will be loved and squeezed but those chubby adorable fingers, and that she'll be a constant and cherished companion.

Now...for names....any suggestions?


Happy 1st Advent

For our little family, first advent has always marked the beginning of the holiday season. This weekend we pulled out our Christmas decorations, started playing Christmas carols, and even managed to make salt-dough ornaments.

And, as I have done every years since Aidan was born, I made an advent calendar. This year's I am especially pleased with.

As I have found out, first graders are especially fond of Pokemon trading cards, so I decided to use those as my advent calendar fillers. Cheery wrapping paper and pretty tags helped complete the project. And finally my new chalkboard wall turned out to be the perfect backdrop. 

Aidan is already itching to rip open his first envelope.

Happy Advent!


Christmas is around the corner

Want to hear something scary? There are only 6 weeks left till Christmas! I know! It's almost here! Have you started knitting up your Christmas gifts yet? What's on your list?
I am hoping for a stress-free experience this year (HA! I know...), so I've made my choices, ordered yarn, and started.

My first choice? Foxy and Wolfie. The two girls I am knitting this for will look adorable in this hat. They certainly have the right personality to wear something like this.

Next on the list is a little lady that deserves something elegant yet playful, You have to agree that Ropes n Pearls qualifies. 

And last but not least a baby bonnet, for a brand new baby that I cannot wait to meet! 

All in all not a lot of things to make and easily accomplished in 6 weeks, were it not for a barely sleeping baby, homework, and other projects I have committed to!
Wish me luck...I can do it, right?


Vintage Knitting Gadget

You know you’ve made a reputation of being an avid knitter, when your friends, the ones that do not know anything about knitting, keep an eye out for knitting supplies.
A dear friend of mine jumped on the opportunity to bring me, what she called her grandmother’s “knitting machine”.

So, machine is perhaps overstating it, when she unpacked it, I had to admit I had never before seen anything like it. Her grandmother, who is now in her 80’s, purchased it in her youth, and used it for years, but her failing eyesight has made it hard to continue knitting with it. As she lives a continent away, it is impossible to get a proper training from her, so I am a little stumped. 

I of course turned to Ravelry, searched through a few groups, asked a few questions, and the best answer I have gotten is that it looks a lot like a knitting board or frame. 

Next step is to stalk youtube for hopefully some good instructional videos and then I cannot wait to put it to use.

Is there anyone else out there that owns interesting knitting gadgets? Old and new? Anyone use a knitting board and feel like giving me a crash course?


SSKAL 2014 - A fail and a success

I have a confession to make...It seems I am addicted to baby-knits. I can't stop casting on, researching, planning. I've got it bad!

My latest favourite? Cascade by Raya Budrevich. I mean look at those pretty leaves! Who could resist tat? Certainly not me.

Since my own Summer Sweater KAL project ended in a frogged pile of yarn, I searched for solace in a quick project. And Cascade was the perfect pick-me-up. I whipped it up in 2 days. It took me longer to weave in ends, choose buttons, block and photograph it!

I cannot wait for Sienna to fit into it. I think this is a cardigan that will be knitted in several sized to accompany her through childhood!


A Sunday afternoon "stroll" and the Driftwood Tee

So....I had to turn on the heat this weekend. Yes.... really, a pretty scary thing right? Is it me, or is fall coming earlier every year? 

As depressing as I find this, my knit obsession is in full swing now. So many new patterns to discover, so many new collections to browse (has anyone else seen the new BT Fall 14 collection, or Wool Book 5 to just name a few).

But first, let me brag about my finally blocked Driftwod Tee. It was a project I knitted as part of Shannon's TTTKAL, did not finish on time, but continued working on and managed to even wear a few times this summer.

Now let me tell you about going out to photograph Driftwood. 

Last weekend the weather was really nice, and my husband and I decided to take advantage and go enjoy a coffee on a terrace, with the kids.....after all, how bad could it be? 

HA! Famously last spoken words!

Let me paint a picture for you. The baby did not nap, my son complained about having to walk, and every terrace on  the street was already closed. Still, we refused to give up, got in the car, and drove to another neighbourhood. At first, things looked promising, but then all the outside seats ended up being taken, the baby was still not sleeping and the wifi connection was wonky, so my son's video wasn't playing. Still, we persisted, and ordered coffees, determined to enjoy at least a few sips. We really only got a few moments of peace! Before heading back to the car, completely exasperated, I had my husband snap a few shots of my Driftwood and I.

Considering....not too shabby, right?

I am sure that all knitters would agree that having someone admire a handmade garment is extremely satisfying. Everyone is always shocked to see that my wardrobe contains as many hand-knitted items as it does. To do them justice I have stared building outfits around my various knits, so prepare for some wardrobe pics!


Baby's Closet- Korrigan Cardi

Time to look at another baby cardigan. This one was also knit while spending time in the NICU. 

Staying true to my style, I chose Korrigan, a pretty, elegant cardigan with a little girly detail, in this case these adorable cables. It's the first time I have used Shibui yarn, and I have to say it's been added to my ever-growing list of favourite yarns. The colour is absolutely stunning , and the yarn itself has amazing stitch definition. The result is really lovely as you can see.


Embracing your Heritage

In my last blog post, I shared a glimpse of my childhood, and this stroll down memory lane sparked some ideas. It's funny how that happens.

In looking at old photos I came across pictures of us wearing traditional Romanian folk costumes. We all had at least a dress or a top growing up. I realized that I never appreciated their beauty when I was younger, but I now see how intricately beautiful and special they are. These costumes are world famous for their embroidery patterns. 

It came to me that these embroidery patterns would look great as knitting patterns as well. So I started sketching out a few possibilities, and I really like the result.

You may have noticed that I have had baby on the brain for months now, but at the same time knitting, so it was only natural that at one point the two would intersect. 

My daughter is at the wonderful age when she is starting to notice things around her. She is especially fascinated by high contrasts, like black and white images. So it dawned on me....I could knit up something for her featuring these Romanian inspired images.

I am not sure what to call the end result. I suppose you can call them a crib mobile?
I attached them to the inside of the bumper and I have to say, Sienna loves looking at them.

Bonus....it helped me practice my stranded knitting!


A Piece of the Past

Wether you are a knitter or not, I am sure that your childhood wardrobe contained at least a few hand-knitted items. I remember some of mine... there were a few sweaters, booties, a dress, but most vividly I remember a hat. 

A white hat that tied under the chin and had a little flower embroidered on the front. We all wore it, my sister, my cousin and I. It figures quite prominently in my childhood photos.

So when my sister asked if I would knit some winter hats for my nieces, I immediately thought of this piece. I set to find a pattern that resembles it. There are a few similar ones, but the one I liked the most was the "Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap". 

It is such a quick and simple knit, you can whip it up in no time! What I like most about it, is the fact that you can tie it, which is practical when your toddler's deft little fingers always find a way to pull off hats. 

Do you have knits that are modelled on childhood ones? Any favourite patterns you'd like to tell me about?

Ravelry details here


Maile baby cardigan

My mind is flooded lately with ideas. Crafty ideas that involve knits, sewing, all kinds of projects. Oh the things I could accomplish if only I could get enough sleep! Granted, the reason I do not sleep much is cute, but I feel I have to mobilize. I will continue making plans and lists, and try and accomplish what is on them. Wish me luck, as this would mean that I can actually come back here more often and  talk about them!

I only have a few minutes, but today it is time to talk knits again! I realized recently that I never finished introducing my baby knits! I wrote about the Puerperium, and baby S. has been wearing it  quite a bit, so it's time to take a look at Maile. I had some leftover yarn from this project, that I thought would be perfect for a a baby cardigan. 

Maile is a cute little girly pattern, just up my alley with clean lines and a little embellishment. Overall the pattern is good, but I had an extremely hard time with the joining of the sleeves. If you are emotionally prepared for it, or find a simpler way to do it, you will enjoy this pattern.


Finningan's Market- Love where you live

In catching up with my blog reading recently, I was thrilled to see that Gabrielle, also known as Design Mom, is bringing back one of my favourite "columns", called "Love where you live". (Hop over for lots of fun blog posts!)

When I first read about this series of posts, I was really inspired to make an effort to explore fun and beautiful places close to home. We will be spending this summer in Montreal, so I am certainly determined to "love where I live" even more.

For a while now I have wanted to check out Finnegan's market. It is an outdoor antique market that takes place every Saturday in the summer. We thought it would be a fun outing with the kids, that we could finish off with a picnic. 

It seems that I completely forgot how chaotic it is to travel with babies in tow. Our day was not off to a great start. It took forever to get out of the house as it was impossible to get organized. In the end, my son left wearing the T-shirt he had slept in, and I had no time to make anything for our picnic. ( A big thanks to my sister here who rescued our lunch and made sandwiches for everyone! AND remembered to bring my dad!!!) But, we made it out of the house and believe me, that is something to be proud of these days! The 30 minute drive served to cool everyone's tempers, and by the time we got there we were all smiles and ready to explore.

The weather was perfect for a stroll through the stalls, for admiring, chatting and enjoying. I saw so many knick-knacks that I would have loved to bring home with me, here are a few glimpses.

Lovely garden accessories

                                                 Happiness in a popsicle

                                                      Endless treasures to discover

                                             And of course something knitting related


And last but not least, the reason I am not getting any sleep these days

Here, herehere  and here are my other "Love where you live posts". 


Summer Vacation!

This is it, school is officially out. My (not so) little boy is about to experience his first summer vacation. How terribly exciting for him and at the same time terribly terrifying for me.

As much as I enjoy hanging out with my little man, I have not spent this much time with him since maternity leave! He is the kind of child that absolutely needs a routine, spur of the moment things do not go over very well.

I still remember that feeling of freedom on the last day of school, the idea of endless sunny days stretching in front of me. Every day a new adventure, full of possibilities. I was used to playing on my own, it never bothered me, but my son is different, he craves company, and needs help to get his imagination going.

So I have been thinking of how to fill our days. We have playdates and outings lined up, swimming and tennis lessons. But I also want fun activities to do at home. After all, we will be spending a lot of time around the house! Since Aidan is not great at playing on his own, I have to find creative ways to encourage him to be a more independent player.

I, of course, started a Pinterest board of ideas, and as often happens, this sparked my imagination. My son loves "Hunt and Seek" games, so I thought....why not create one myself?

I scoured the house for little toys and items to use, arranged them on a tray, and photographed it. This is accompanied by a list of items that he has to find in the photograph. 

This is what I have on the list:

a firetruck
the letter S
the letter A
an angel
a whistle
a bicycle
a medal
a  milk carton
a ball
a lollipop
a walnut
a rock
a dinosaur
a gift-tag
a basketball net
2 postcards
an antler
a brush
a ribbon
an elephant
a stamp
a slinky
a cellphone
a golfball
a flower
a key
an eraser
a house
a garbage can
a seashell
a harmonica
a cup

I mean the possibilities are endless, right?

If you are desperate for some time fillers with your kids, you can always download my pictures from my flickr account here, and the list here.

We're playing this afternoon....


Strathcona, a summer scarf

Did I mention I have been willing myself to finish knit projects?

I cannot be the only one who finishes a knit and then lets it sit around for weeks, possibly months before weaving in the ends and blocking?

Well, I finally put the finishing touches on this one, and I am really glad I did. When Jane Richmond released Island, I immediately marked most of the patterns as favourites. Strathcona is such a fun, summery accessory. I enjoy wearing knits year-round, so this is a great light pattern. 

I started off thinking it was going to be a quick knit, but it was not, at least not for me. But it is very easy to memorize, so once you've gotten into the rhythm it'll go fast.

This is my first time using Knitpicks Curio, and it will not be my last. Some of my friends thought I was crazy (right Robyn?), as it is listed a "thread"weight on Ravelry, but I went ahead and found that with the yarn held double, it was pretty much a fingering weight, and I find it is quite a good match for this pattern.

The cotton has a wonderful sheen to it, and the colours are intense and saturated. Lots of possibilities in other words.

This is one I will be wearing quite a bit!


TTTKAL & Mommy Brain

You know what they say about the best intentions....

Well, I intended to participate in Shannon's TTTKAL and make a cute summer top for myself, but I mobilized too late and by the time my yarn arrived, it was one day away from the finishing deadline.I blame mommy-brain. Indecision and procrastination have nothing to do with it!

Though this deadline was extended to yesterday, the 2nd June, I am nowhere near finishing.  But, it has given me the opportunity to follow along in the thread, chat with some other knitters, and that is always a blast. To anyone that is considering joining a KAL, Shannon's are always a lot of fun. It's a great group of ladies! I can only recommend it!

Nevertheless, let me introduce you to my project. I chose the Driftwood Tee by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark. It is very "me". Clean lines, with a little interesting detail. I debated for too long which yarn to choose. I did not have anything in my stash, and did not want to invest a lot, so I though I'd give Holst yarn a try. I have heard good things about it. The specification on their website are very similar to the yarn this pattern calls for, only a couple of stitches off from the pattern gauge. So far it is a lovely yarn, though it is a lot thinner then I expected. I personally would call it a lace-weight, but hey, I am no expert. The knitted fabric is very airy, which is nice for a summer top. 

We'll see what the finished project turns out to be....hopefully I will stick to it, and get to wear it this summer, as I do not have the encouragement of my fellow knitters to keep me going.

Updates to follow!


Be careful what you wish for

Seven years ago, when I found out that I was pregnant with a boy, I felt a bit of panic. I grew up surrounded by girls, in a family where we had only a couple of boy cousins. I wondered, would I know what to do with a boy? How to play with him? How to relate to him and find common ground?

He is now six years old, and I have come a long way. Cars, trains, sports, hockey, I've learned about them all, alongside my son. True, I am still amazed at the level of energy, and I still have a hard time understanding how play-fighting is fun, but I can honestly say that I no longer have those worries about forming a bond. We are close, very close.

So you would think that I would have felt relief finding out that I was having a girl this time around, right? WRONG! Girls are complex and sensitive, and I started thinking of the importance of teaching them self-respect, and giving them confidence, showing them how to stand up for themselves. 

Of course these are all true for boys as well, but for whatever reason they never came to mind when I had Aidan.

And then I started worrying that I am already subjecting my children to a double-standard, when they are only this young. You can tell, I am sure that I have been driving myself mad!

In speaking to other moms though, I have come to realize that I am maybe over thinking the situation. The most important thing is to lead by example, pay attention, and also let their personality develop, as a lot depends on that as well.

So I have made the conscious decision to trust my motherly instincts and believe that I will know the right thing to do. The power of positive thinking, right? 

As if to reinforce this idea, a few weeks ago, I came across and advertisement for Dove, that to me, said it all. I decided to recreate it as a poster in Sienna's room.

It's quite a simple message, but I love it! If anyone else is interested in having it, click here for the JPEG version, and here for the PDF.



Never enough baby knits

Hi, and I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's day celebration. We had a beautiful day, a full house, lots of laughter and squealing children. I was planning a quick little post, but time just got away from me.

So I am back today to show off another adorable baby knit. I started this pattern while recovering from giving birth in the hospital. A dear friend of mine sent me this yarn from Berlin, and I wanted to make something special with it for my little one. 

A very popular baby cardigan on Ravelry is Puerperium (how DO you pronounce it?). It is written for a very small size, so it was perfect for my tiny 2lbs, 10oz baby. 

Well perfectly small for her to grow into anyway, as it still is a little big on her now, and she is 3 times as big.

It is a very fast and straightforward pattern. I enjoyed making it, and really like the way it turned out, but my absolute favourite part of this cardigan......the buttons! Aren't they adorable? Ever since I saw them in my friend's yarn shop, I planned on knitting a cardigan to fit them. I mean owls! You can never have enough owls!

The beautiful weather has finally arrived here in Montreal and I am planning on spending as much time outdoors as I can. What about you??


Loose ends - Colour Affection finished.

Maybe it's the spring, maybe it's nesting, but my focus lately has been to finish projects, to tie up loose ends as it may be. 

Looking back over my sparse blog posts of the last few months, I realized that I never posted photos of the finished Colour Affection shawl. So here it is.

This is a project that I started with my Stitch'n Bitch group, a knit that we all loved to hate. You may recall me agonizing over my colour choices, and the famous "to YO or not to YO" issue. The endless knit rows. 

I am happy I stuck it out however, because I have gotten quite a bit of wear out of it since I finished it, and it has also turned out to be quite a versatile piece of my wardrobe. I have paired it with a lot more outfits then I thought. And it has also been admired quite a bit. I love it when knits turn out like that, and let's be honest, that is not always the case. 

I would say that out of all of my knits, about three quarters I wear often, whereas the rest I have never worn more then a handful of times.

Which begs the question....what do YOU do with those knits? Do you frog them and re-use the yarn for better, more appropriate projects? Or is it too painful to undo all those hours of work? I am curious to know... 


Happy Easter

Easter preparations are in full swing at our house. Since my mom is here, she is going all out with traditional dishes. We are certainly spoiled this time around, and it feels fantastic!

While my mom is busy with these preparations, I have had some time to ponder what sort of crafty surprise I can make for the kids. My criteria is simple, it has to be fast, cute and inexpensive. 

Now that there are 4 kids in the family, my sister and I have worked hard to create traditions and lasting memories for them. We are having an Easter egg hunt (indoors because it's still cold out), they will be decorating easter eggs, but I wanted something new as well. And then it hit me!

Why not dye quail eggs for them? They are certainly healthier than their chicken counterpart, and just their size. Plus the fact that they are spotted, makes for a cute pattern when you are done. 

Here are some before and after shots. What do you think?

And that lovely candle you see in the background? Remember how I was talking about my uncle with the bee-hives? Well he makes these candles as well, and this one has an adorable bunny theme.


Stripes make me happy

It has been a tough winter, so I guess it is no shock that one of the first things I wanted to knit for my little one, was a cozy blanket, something to cuddle her in. I wanted to make an heirloom piece, that she would be able to use throughout her childhood, but then tuck away, to give to her own children one day.

But how to choose? There are so many beautiful patterns out there. I had to find a way to narrow it down. I wondered, should I go with a more intricate pattern, or something simple? To me, in order to show off an interesting pattern or stitch you are better served with a solid colour yarn, whereas if you want to play with colour you are better served by a plain stockinette or garter stitch, maybe even cables. Once I looked at it this way, I decided that I wanted a colourful blanket.

I had always admired these blankets by the Purl Bee, so I started researching yarn and colourways. I can tell you, I splurged....BIG TIME. Six skeins of Madeline Tosh Merino DK will set you back a bit. None of my LYS carry the colours I was looking for, so I had to take a chance and order based on how they looked on my computer's screen. I was a little nervous opening the package, but once opened I absolutely loved my choices. The colours are incredibly bright and intense, and the yarn itself, oh, so soft. The colours I chose are Calligraphy, Fragrant and Candlewick.

I cast on 140 stitches and off I went. I needed a mindless project like this, while I sat in the NICU waiting for my little munchkin to grow and get healthy.You would not believe how many moms and nurses approached me to ask, and talk about my knitting. I became known as the "knitting mom", and they would come and check in on my progress. Many stopped to chat about their own crafting (mis)adventures, and to say that they would love to learn, or re-start, knitting themselves. 

I am always amazed at how this craft can so easily bring people together. It speaks to a side of us that is open, kind and loving. Being able to connect over knitting, changed my relationship with them, it made it more open and, well...kind. Once again, proof that knitting brings people together. I am sure I have recruited some new knitters.

I finished the blanket a few nights before she came home. It gives me such joy to cuddle her in it now, and to think of what the future may hold for this little, and incredibly strong (and cute!) baby.


New life

When I last updated this blog I had promised myself that I would not let too much time pass before updating it again. Alas, I have broken my promise again. As much as I wanted to keep it, life, once again, got in the way.

Let's recap. The holidays were busy, but great, our biggest challenge this year being the weather. The bitter cold started much earlier this year, so we were unable to do some of our traditional outings. The Christmas market is no fun at -20 degrees or closer, neither is a walk around town to admire Christmas decorations. We will make up for it next year. This lack of outings and dreary weather have also resulted in very few photos being taken.  Thank you polar vortex!

I certainly have some serious catching up to do.

And just as I thought that I'd get a fresh start in 2014, my baby daughter decided to make her appearance 3 months early! I spent my days by her side, at first struggling to keep positive, then cautiously optimistic as she started improving. We worked hard to keep a routine going, mostly for my son, but also for ourselves, to help us keep our sanity.

It has been an emotional roller-coaster, having felt panic, paralyzing worry, guilt, helplessness, but also euphoria and happiness. 

Through it all, one thing has helped me cope, and that is the wonderfully calming effect of my knitting needles. Well, ok, to be honest also the occasional glass of wine and massive amounts of chocolate.

She has now been home for 2 weeks and a new stage has begun. A new routine, getting to know each other and lots of cuddling. 

For today I wanted to share a glimpse of my precious baby girl. 

Soon, I will share some finished FO's.