Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A very tiny practical knit

This is easily the smallest thing I've ever knit, and wow, does it ever look forlorn in this picture. 

A tiny tube of colour in a sea of white tile. 

To make the tiny tube, I cast on 16 stitches in stripey sock yarn on 2.25mm round needles and did about 10 rounds of K1, P1 ribbing (well, actually I cast on 12 stitches and did that but it was too small, so I ripped out and started over) and used up all of a scrap piece of yarn left over from a long-ago sock.

And no, the tube wasn't going to be a ring, though it did just fit on my pinkie finger. 

Criminy, how did my hands get to look so - well, grownup?  Is it because I'm dangerously close to what other people might consider grown up, or because I never remember to put hand cream on? 

Digression: do you remember to do that and if so, How?  Every time I think of it, I'm about to sit down and knit and don't want to get my yarn all gooey, or I have to wash dishes or do laundry which I know will make the hand cream pointless.  Probably I should park a bottle of hand cream beside my keyboard because my keyboard doesn't care about the backs of my hands.  My hands might not end up looking like they're 20 years old again, but at least I'll have made the effort.

Anyhoo: the tiny knit.  Here it is again:

Shiny new shoes, ugly old floor: ironic photography at its finest

It's inside these new sandals!  It is AMAzing how effective a tiny tube of knitting is at protecting a baby toe from the dangers inherent in new sandals.  

I was so thrilled to find these things because I could tell at a glance that they would be really, really comfy and walk-in-able in spite of having a heel.  And I was right.  After years of no heels whatsoever I wore them out walking to and from a 10-minute-distant destination the day I got them with no discomfort except for my baby toe which was

I mean we are talking about a four-block running monologue of Hello, what are you thinking Mary, you can't coddle me for 10 years either in a sock or in sandals that don't go anywhere near me and then pull a stunt like this, how can you do this to me, etc. etc.

I didn't know my baby toe knew some of the words it was using to describe the situation, honestly.

When I got home from that walk I remembered my old work friend Kristen tipping me off about Dr. Scholl's brand lambswool, and how you could just tear off a little of it and stuff it inside your pointy dress heels to avert exactly this sort of disaster.  You know as well as I do that there is a ton of lambswool here at Hugs in the form of roving I haven't had a chance to spin, and it wouldn't have taken a big effort to tear off a little of that. 

But... a little knitted tube seemed safer.  Less likely to shift over the course of an outing.  And it really works.

So, if your baby toes start making complainy noises at you this summer?  16 stitches, K1 P1 ribbing.  (or 20 stitches, if 16 is too small.)

See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Socks on a train: the colour course

Okay, one sock.  How much sock can you knit on a train?

Compare my five hour ride to Ottawa last month (zero sock) to six 25 minute trips to and from the airport:

Tons of sock.  Tons!  I am all the way up to the heel flap here people, and I have no idea how this was possible, especially since I was super tired the whole time.  Conferences do that to you, have you noticed?  You go into a training meeting and between the presentations and the peer conversations, you walk out like a Halloween pumpkin that's had all the seeds from every other pumpkin on the block loaded in with the ones you started with.

Complete with slightly crazed, lopsided grin, if we're going to be honest here.

Now, about this train ride.  It's a long way between its final stop and the conference hotel, and I was ferried either way by means of a complimentary shuttle - five times out of the six, by Nazeer.  He could not have been nicer.  And while we were chatting on one of those rides he said he still hadn't tried the train from the airport to the train station downtown.

Oh, I said, the view when you're leaving the airport is amazing.  You're right up over all the highway loops and overpasses and they're so beautiful it's like sculpture.

Did you take a picture? he asked.

No, I said, the train moves too fast to get your camera out.

But once I was on the last ride I thought - Nazeer is right, I should take a picture.  So I grabbed my camera and got these shots.

The conductor caught me doing this and said Hey, if you want pictures, sit on the other side of the train because there's a great view of the skyline from there, and I heard myself say "Oh, it's okay, I wanted pictures of THE HIGHWAY."

Who says this??

But seriously: it's gorgeous, isn't it.

I learned loads more in the three days of Maria Killam's colour training than I can share here, but I do have some highlights.

1) Renovating, designing, and decorating is not magically easy just because you are a professional with years of experience and easy access to loads of fabulous suppliers.  Sometimes, the problem to solve is big enough to be hard for anybody.  It makes me feel SO much better to know this, and if you've been reading Hugs over the last year, You Know Why.

2) Tiramisu is actually made of clouds.  Clouds of delicious sugar.

3) Once you've learned to recognize the undertones in colour you can't unsee them, thereby ruining every walk past buildings for the rest of your life because most buildings have really bad colour combinations right down to their brick and stone.

4) I am so grateful Pete did not want a stone facade on our house to go with our brick because that practically never works and is sometimes deeply awful.

5) Although I have never given much thought to interior design or trends in same, I don't need to worry as much as I do about messing up our very expensive house project.  It turns out I'm a lot better at it than I thought and do have a real, live personal style, which I can summarize as Anything Old That Will Hold Books And My Teacup.  What can I say?  Because I am the daughter of parents who were children during the Depression, of course my default policy for my first few apartments was to accept castoff furniture when my friends were upgrading from what their parents cast off to them - all of it pre-1960.  Then when I had more choice, because I was by then drawn to every look prior to 1960, I never fell into any of the trends that cause problems later.  I just always had a white kitchen and bathroom because that was safest, and never fell into a furniture trend because I never had the money to buy a sofa when trends were most actively in play.  Whew.

6) I really, really like meeting new people.  I met SO many people over the weekend - not just the ones in the course, who I loved and wish I could see again, but people traveling into the city who needed help finding their transfer point or calling their hotel for a shuttle.  It felt great to be part of their days as well as my own.  Must remember this about myself the next time I am settling blissfully into a two-day run of not having to leave the house At. All - I am not 100% Hermit but only a sort of Hermit Hybrid.

7) I desperately want a pink bedroom this time, which is odd because I had a semi- pink bedroom as a little girl and didn't like it (except for the ballerina curtains which were a constant source of interest, imagining little faces in the ballerinas' drawn figures, and thinking about what the ballerinas might be doing next if they were real).  BUT it turns out I don't like any of the pinks in the fan deck I got to take home.

8) I have my own fan deck for paint, just like a grownup!!!

9) Okay, #8 isn't really a thing I learned, it's just a thing, but it was REALLY exciting especially now that we don't live a ten minute walk from the paint store.  From here on, it's just instant gratification when I want to check a colour.  Yaaaaay!

10) Andy - my kitchen designer, in case you can no longer keep all the names straight - is a very, very patient man and even though he was on the brink of putting in our order, he did not flip when I asked whether we could change from screaming white to not-really-white-at-all (technical terms compliments of moi).  Instead he talked with me for about forty minutes on a Saturday night no less, completely agreed with my reasoning, and backed me up with related experience of his other installations.  Thank you Andy!

The women at my table were also super patient because they had to sit near me while I slowly froze from the head down over two days prior to me talking to Andy, looking at pictures of unsuccessfully decorated rooms that featured the white paint I asked for alongside the other colours I've picked.  After a few hours I was entirely still from panic except, you know, for my mouth, through which I kept muttering random remarks like Cloud white? Simply white? Chantilly Lace?  Arg?  My table-mates were very comforting and offered advice which was super helpful and I am so grateful to them.

Of course I kept agonizing even after all this input, but I've now accepted that this is a question without a clear answer, and that at some point today I will finish my Eenie Meenie Minie Moe exercise and just hand Andy the final choice while averting my eyes.

But before I do that, let's take one more look at this very pretty sock, shall we?

Heel flap complete.  It's pretty, but the colourway is called 'Kiss Me Deadly' and oh, look!  it's another Chompy Sock!  watch out, knitting bag. 

Oh I do love a good Chompy Sock.  Wouldn't it be nice if they stayed that size forever?

Okay, gotta go seal my doom - you have a good day, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Picking colours

So... I picked this colourway for my next pair of socks.  It was the most different from what I'd been knitting, and I felt like a change,

and WOW was I right about this combination looking like a science experiment!  I love how the stripes are coming out.  It's a very invigorating knit, which I know sounds ridiculous when you're talking about your 800th stocking stitch sock.  (Okay, I probably haven't knit 400 pairs of socks, but I can't be sure, because I haven't updated my Ravelry page in forever, and anyway it feels like I'm on sock 800 so there you are.)

It's so much fun to knit this yarn that I might have had trouble stopping.

I'm on to the sock heel for this one already, and it hasn't even been a week, and I'm pretty sure I haven't found any more knitting time than earlier because the condo is gradually filling up with giant boxes containing light fixtures.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that the space they are taking up is the problem, or even the fact that I have to find a place for them, where we won't trip over them for at least two months.  The trouble is that I have to open each box and check the lights for damage, because it could be a while before they're installed and it might be too late to have them replaced if need be.  Some of the lights take longer to check than others, like the four hallway lights I chose.

See those small white-coated glass panels set into a black framework?  Well, and it turns out that each panel is packed separately to reduce breakage.  It took me 21 minutes to check the first light and I can't face the other three, so trust me: not getting bonus knitting time here at home.

Thankfully I am taking a three day course starting today, and the commute will be about 90 minutes each way, so I have another sock to work on.  In the other colour!

because I am terrible with decision making.

Of course, if I'm knitting one at home and the other on a train for three days straight, it kind of defeats the purpose of casting on an emergency sock.  So I am keeping the mate to the first one as backup:

I find if I get the cuff knit somewhere easy, I am good for emergencies for quite a long time.  I work 82 rounds of leg before I start the heel flap, and that gets you through a lot of Emergency.  And although I did tweak my standard sock pattern a little over the winter, I've memorized the changes and can knit without referring to any notes, which helps.  Even in a waiting room, I would be okay to do a sock gusset.

When things settle down some, I'll write this pattern up as a freebie to share with you all.  There's another version I use for heavier sock yarn that would appeal to any first-time sock knitters among you and/or people who can't face tiny sock yarn, but I don't have a widely available yarn source for that yet.  It's probably enough to start with the standard size sock yarn... especially if what you're after is a nice time consuming portable knit that doesn't require lace-level concentration. There is a lot more knitting time in sock yarn, and it's more compact for your bag, too.

But first: this course.  It is all about PICKING COLOURS.  Paint colours, specifically, but still.  Decision-deficit me in a room full of people who are passionate about interior design, learning all about the undertones in paint colours.  My brain is going to be pretty full by the end of each day, I guarantee you.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you again on Monday!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Finished socks with pins in them

Never mind running in the ends - I couldn't even wait to take the pins out before I took these pictures.  Finished socks! I am so grateful for finished socks!

Not that I can wear them right now.  I'm all about airy sandals this week, it is that hot out.

(mind you, hot won't matter in six or seven weeks when we finally make it up to the cottage, because BUGS.  I will be wearing both handknit wool socks and my boots every time I venture outdoors for anything other than swimming - learned my lesson after that first relaxed summer when the blackflies found my toes and I couldn't wear shoes for two weeks.)

This colourway is called Endless Summer which, with a glance at the cottage calendar, I call False Advertising.  We have that cottage all year and we can only use it from early July - not even the beginning - to the end of August - not even Labour Day (because of life, not bugs, but still.)  We need a MUCH longer summer, or at least one with fewer biting insects in it.

Here I am posing on tile.  Of course I'm posing on tile!  We have a room full of tile samples to store and they might as well earn their keep.  This is one I didn't request, but fell in love with, except that it's a blue gray I won't be using anywhere.  It might come in white though, and by white I of course mean off white because why be logical?  This particular tile is worth making a trip to the tile store for because it's got a lustrous-wash-over-matte finish that doesn't show up on camera but gives a very slight amount of pattern that I find soothing.  Perfect for those showers you get stuck taking way too early in the morning, when you are still groggy and really, really don't want to be vertical yet.

Also it's called Rosedale.

If you don't live in Toronto you may not know that Rosedale and Forest Hill are the two most beautiful and expensive residential neighbourhoods here (not counting the Bridle Path, for which you have to be very wealthy indeed.  Prince had a house there for a while, for example.)  Growing up, my dream was to live in a converted coachhouse in Rosedale one day, so you know I'm not going to miss my chance at putting Rosedale tile onto my shower walls.

Really need to get around to running in all those loose ends though, don't I.

I guess a random tile isn't as cuddly as my old porch was for showing off socks - plus, there's no risk of embarrassment, taking pictures of my feet as the neighbours walk past the front of our house, which removes the thrill factor.  I wonder how much I'll do that when the house is finished though, because we are building a back deck.  Maybe I'll use both!

Speaking of the porch, it looks like part of it might be going back up soon!  The roof, anyway, with temporary supports to fill in for the new edition of the columns we had before.

So nice to have mostly finished socks. 

Not least because it means - new socks in progress!  Come back tomorrow and I'll show you which colourway won the competition.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ten tips for bathroom tile selection

Choosing bathroom tile is a special form of torture.  I mean, if you're choosing for a kitchen, you can waffle between white subway tile and colourful statement tile for hours and really enjoy yourself, but a bathroom?  Especially if you have to pull together floor, wall, backsplash, counter, and shower floor - well, that's a lot more complicated than anybody wants.

Luckily, Biscuit has been quietly watching me explore just how complicated, and is ready to share ten tips to make your life easier.

1. Pick white subway tile for any vertical surface.  Gloss or matte, who cares?

White subway tile is timeless, it goes with everything, and everybody likes it, so it's perfect for a house you're going to sell in a few years or if you get bored and redecorate a lot.  Throw in a contrast grout colour if you want to spice it up.

2. Pick a mosaic tile in a hexagon shape for any horizontal surface.  Any colour will do if it's paired with white. 

Like subway tile, hex tile is also timeless and you can't go wrong.  Or you could have this cute geometric which is tantalizingly unavailable from lots of manufacturers but can be had from Centura Tile.

Retro pattern, black and white neutrals - tile like this never goes out of style.

3. Look at home decor magazines while curled up somewhere comfortable with the beverage of your choice, find a tiled room you love, then buy all the tile listed in the sources section.

Houzz.com is another good place to look.  Either vehicle is basically a product showcase.

Warning: the most beguiling pictures have marble in them, which is expensive and hard to maintain compared to porcelain tile, so don't forget that you can buy marble-look porcelain tile, and also don't expect it to look like real tile up close when you're showering beside it.  It might, and that's a bonus - it's not guaranteed.  But don't worry.  You can always put a real marble subway tile backsplash over your counter and under the giant mirror you will enjoy ever so much more than the small, prettily framed one you'll see in all the magazines.

You are so right, Biscuit, I'm swooning over the marble subway tile too. I draw the line at falling over onto it, but you have a lot more padding and a few less bones than I do, so swoon at will, my friend.

4. Worried about slipping on a wet floor?  Forget what I just said about horizontal surfaces and find yourself an unglazed porcelain mosaic tile.  If you have the option to choose matte or shiny finish, pick matte.

Unglazed tile has more traction than glazed tile, which has a layer of melted glass over the top to make it prettier, and the extra grout lines in mosaic tile give extra traction too.  Sometimes you have the choice between 1" square tiles:

or 2" square:

and I expect the 1" will offer more traction.  Or of course, there's hex tile.

Hello again!  It's true, I'm everywhere, even in this post.

5. Hate cleaning grout?  Forget what I just said about subway tile because OMIGOSH grout.  So much grout!  Large-format tiles - 12x24" and 24x24" tiles were made for people like me, who give grout a very wide berth (unless it's absolutely necessary to have mosaic tile, and the extra grout is in aid of installing a 1" square tile, because 2" square tiles are beyond ubiquitous and it's nice to have a change.)

6. Easily overwhelmed by pattern and texture but need wall tile that will reach eye level?  See #5 and pick a large format tile in a matte pattern with minimal colour variation.

7. Want colour, but plan to sell your place in a few years?  Put the colour into something easily removed, like a towel or a toothbrush jar.  Stick with white subway tile and hex.  Or, larger format tiles in plain white with no colour variation.  Or pick a gorgeous glossy red, in a deep shade, on porcelain instead of glass!  Those were never a trend, and will therefore live forever, sparking joy and a consistent decision for white paint.  Assuming you can find any for sale because: not a trend.  (I'm kidding, obviously.  Just stick with white.)

8. Want to stick to a neutral non red room, but can't find larger format plain white tiles with no colour variation because every tile store in a twenty mile radius is pushing grey, travertine, or some variation on charcoal (but never actual black)?  Pause to cry, then consider other neutral colours which are not brown or grey, trend colours that will date your home and limit paint choices until the day they are finally ripped out.  Start with the tiles that are labeled 'white' in the tile store because 9 times out of 10 they will be a stone or grey-beige colour that nobody would ever mistake for white.

See those two light-coloured tiles?  The smaller one is white.  The larger one is just called white.

9. If you do find large format plain white and can't bear the thought of it, because you know from experience it shows up every long brown hair that falls off your head (how come it's never the grey ones??), see #8.

10. If you are tiling a bathroom with a walk in shower that requires a nonslip mosaic tile, but you hate cleaning grout and can't imagine putting the same mosaic down over the rest of the bathroom floor, simplify things by using one other (large-format) tile for both the walls of the shower and the floor and walls of the rest of the bathroom - or at least, one other colour, spread across two different tiles of the same size. If the shower floor colour of your choice is very different from your wall and floor tile - for example, a postage stamp of black in a sea of stony greige, repeat the shower floor colour in your mirror frame or countertop.


Except for the countertop choices.

Sorry about that.

(and good luck!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Alterations: from dress to tunic

As you know, one of my primary purposes in life is finding new ways to sneak pyjamas into my daytime wardrobe.  Tunics (or smocks) are one of the best ways to do this, but they can be hard to find, what with not being super stylish.  The ones with pockets are especially scarce, which is ridiculous because doesn't everybody need an everyday smock with built-in storage for keys, cell phone, and knitting?

So, over the weekend, I cut the bottom off a pair of linen dresses and rehemmed them.

That sounds awful, doesn't it?  Such a waste of a dress.  But when I bought these things last year, as excited as I was to have a garment for a hot day that wouldn't require a lot of extra planning or layers, I had to admit: neither one was at all flattering, and I only wore them - twice maybe?  Not each, but in total.  I mean, if a tunic turns you into a bag with legs, an empire-waist dress with a very full skirt just turns you into a bag.  Hems need to fall where they are the most flattering - aka, intentional - like the space below your kneecap where your leg is still on an outward curve to your calf.  If you stop instead at the widest part of your calf, in my experience it's a lot harder to convince people that you're wearing a dress and not a bag - or worse, what you really have on, which is a big comfy nightie that happens to be made of black linen.

Or bright green linen, ahem.

(guess which dress got worn twice, and which one not at all?)

Normally I'm careful to keep a good supply of thread in different colours for emergencies, but I seem to have skipped this particular shade of green.  I wonder why?

Anyhoo - I had to take seven inches off the dress to take it to a good tunic length, and since the skirt was more or less flared, that was WAY too much fabric to fold into a hem.  So after I'd pressed the new hem all the way round and double checked my seven inches against the original hem with a quilter's ruler (the kind that runs about 8" wide and marks the inches all the way up either side at that good distance), I got our a very sharp pair of scissors and started snipping.  Then I folded the remaining fabric down into a double layer and stitched through it.  On the black dress, for which I had matching thread.

This dress had another odd feature, at the armhole:

See how it sort of curves outward at the top?  That's normal in a lot of dresses but in this one, it was exaggerated, and it looked SO weird on.  I didn't want to mess with the casing at the top of the opening so I just folded it over for a quick topstitch.  Only to find that at that thickness, the ridgey bits under the presser foot were just clutching the linen for dear life, and not letting me push it through.

Solution: tissue paper.  Have you ever done this?  A colleague's wife gave me this tip when I was sewing silk chiffon into my wedding dress.  It's so simple and logical.

Step one:  Slip tissue paper under your fabric and start sewing.

Step Two: finish sewing, then tear the paper away.

With that dress successfully transformed, I had to turn my attention to the green dress, and decide whether to hold out for green thread and wait a few weeks to wear it, or use black thread and wear it right away.

It's hot out, so....

I went for the black thread.  In a basting stitch, so I can rip it out someday if I ever remember to buy green thread.  Which reminds me, I have to snip off some of the six inches I cut from the green dress and put it into my wallet, the better to get the right shade next time I'm in a sewing store.  And if that ever actually happens, I'll edit those armholes as well.

All done!

Okay, it looks even more like a bag now, but - Pockets, people!  And it's good that I got this thing into circulation fast because evidently my wardrobe needed some colour in it.  That's the green dress jumping out at you there, looking more like its actual shade.

Yikes that's bright.

And now, back to my paint boards and tile samples.  I swear I am in jail with these things!  But I'm sure it will all pay off in the end. 

(please, please tell me it will all pay off in the end?)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Knitting with intent

My long-weekend intention: FINISH A KNIT!  Man, I am getting desperate.

We're looking at over a year now of pretty much socks here at Hugs, aren't we?  And yet most of you are still here listening to me, a small miracle.  Were you reading back in the days when it was nonstop hats, each one different than the last?  Or nonstop spinning?  Yeesh.  I haven't touched my wheel in approximately 18 months, except to move it out of the way.  But here I am with a pair of nearly-finished socks and my goodness, I am going to finish them and get something new cast on if it kills me.  Which it probably won't, so I can make that remark with the confidence born of low risk.

I don't know how I ever managed without tile samples to serve as backdrops for sock photographs.  They aren't quite 'peeling front porch', but they're pretty good.

Tile samples and lighting boxes - the lights I ordered that weren't discontinued have started to arrive - and have taken over the best part of our condo: the window wall in the living room with pines and ferns planted outside so we can watch birds all day long.  I set it up for frequent use the minute we moved in, and I guess it is still frequent use, because I am so busy sorting out all the hard finishes for the house these days. 

I am trying not to be frightened about how many lighting boxes we will end up with, but the size of the Hudson Valley box doesn't bode well for us.  This is the smaller of the two kitchen ceiling lights, and there's a chandelier en route, too.

A big part of assessing tile options is deciding which paint colours might go well with the shortlisted candidates, and then deciding whether or not we can live with them.  So I am running a series of tests in a chair facing the windows for different paint colours.  I think that one on the left is a 'greige' (grey beige, and I don't know why it isn't just called 'slurry', though I lean toward 'mushroom' or 'stone', myself so I can hardly point fingers about whether or not to call a spade a spade.)

It is truly astonishing how much paint colours change from one family to another over the course of a day, as the sun moves across the sky and the light sources shift from dappled natural  light to lamps and ceiling fixtures. 

(Or in our case, a single lamp by the reading chair.  I can't test for ceiling fixtures here at the condo because for reasons I will never understand there aren't any, except over a place where the builders thought people might want to put their dining table.  And because the ceiling drywall is set right over cement, adding new fixtures is a bit complicated, involving new wires run from the electrical box in the distant laundry room and rods or beams strung across the ceiling to hide them.  I would be SO into doing this, if we were staying.  Or even if we hadn't already started dipping into the condo renovation budget to pay for more house.  I hate to leave it as less than it could be... I have really come to love this place and I feel all nesty about it.  You know those people who live in a place without feeling any particular attachment to it and can move without any hestitation whatsoever?  Maybe you are one of the lucky ones too in which case I would be so delighted if you would loan me some of your outlook.  Until the house is done I don't have to think about letting somebody else live here, so I'm trying not to, but I know it will be painful when the time comes.)

Logically, paint being difficult and changeable should make me want to run like the wind into the arms of practically any white, or maybe just into the general vicinity of pine boards, where I could peacefully enjoy colour in textile form.  I mean honestly, when was the last time your shawl changed colour in person?  On camera, yes, but never in person.

But no.  Last week when I was near the Benjamin Moore store, I picked up more paint samples.  Even now I couldn't tell you what I was thinking.  Am I really intending to paint a room pinky brown, or maritime blue?  I may have been looking at the top colours on the strip, and using the bottom colour as an indication of where I'd end up if I went too far, but even so.

Pretty sure I picked up the black swatches with our fireplace surround in mind.  Or maybe the porch?  Surely not a wall or three.

I really need to keep notes.

Or just knit the sock!  That's it, I'm going to go knit the sock.  There are still as many as eight viable hours left in this vacation day, and they're best spent on knitting, don't you think?

Hope you're having a good day too, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Process of elimination

Today I decided that even if I have only one set of sock needles free, I have GOT to cast on a new round of emergency knitting.  So I went to my Vesper Sock bin to see whether I had any more kits set up - a skein caked, then divided into two equal-sized cakes, all ready to cast on - and panicked!  I could only find one.  Then I realized there were more, underneath all the new skeins I haven't addressed yet.  Ahem.  Five in total, and how do I choose?

They're all beautiful.

This has been a very bumpy week.  And it started off so well, too.  By the end of Sunday I'd purchased all the lights for the house, a necessary and urgent job because the wiring is nearly done and my window of opportunity is fast closing for moments like

Oh! I want a sconce there, or

Yikes! I can't find a fixture that kicks out enough light and isn't hideous, so can we wire for two ceiling lights in a row here and I'll buy this nice dim one? 

And believe me, this is the sort of thing that comes up.  We needed:

Entry hall lighting (overhead and matching sconce)
Lots of hall lighting (very flush to the ceiling)
Stairwell sconces plus a large matching ceiling fan with no light in it
Something very special for the living room ceiling
Bedroom ceiling lights, plus my office ceiling light
Sconces for the master bedroom and the office
A hall ceiling light that works with the master bedroom ceiling and sconce lights
And complementary table lamps for the living room and master bedroom.

I don't know why I thought that was not worth budgeting for in advance.  Once I started pricing lights I realized that this list, plus the kitchen light I'd already found and the dining room lights we've already paid for, adds up to about $6000 Canadian if we're lucky, so you'd better believe I was hunting for steep discounts! 

I put in about 4 hours a day on weekdays, and 8 on weekends, for about a month just looking at online lighting stores, and magazines, and the websites of brick and mortar stores and trying to find lights we

a/ did not hate

b/ could afford

c/ would play nicely together, at least within sight of each other.

It was a VERY hard task.

I think I don't want to knit anything too bright right now - better to save those warm, summery colours for a dreary winter day.  Down to four?

Anyway I can't tell you what a lift I got when I clicked Place Order on the last of the lights!  We got great deals, and we loved everything we chose.  The hall lights especially were massively discounted, very close to the ceiling, and GORgeous, combining black and gold and white and leaving us free to add some gold touches with other lights.  Branching out to gold really expanded our shopping options.

But on Tuesday I got an email to say they had been DISCONTINUED.  And the manufacturer was entirely out of stock.

Which meant our matching gold lights didn't really make sense any more.  Especially the ones that were also discontinued!  My matching desk lamps were on that list, and the bedside lamps, and the super elegant, totally perfect living room lamps.

So I had to start over.  I nearly cried.  I bought a strudel, too.  I mean I mostly don't care about lights beyond, do I have enough of them to see my knitting?  But when you get to spending so much on a whole-home renovation like this, it's just sad to have to finish it off with very basic lights you bought last-minute at the hardware store like you didn't have any creative spark left in your whole body.  Just, ugh.

The orange one is perfect for Halloween, so I should cast that on no later than August, but we're still in May.  I think it can wait a bit.  We're in the car a lot in the summer, going to and from the cottage, I will knit socks faster than usual.

Back at my post looking for lighting, I noticed a few other things going wrong, too.  And they all seemed to take up a ton of time.  Did you notice I didn't get to post anything here on Wednesday?  I sure did.  I was so swamped all day that it wasn't till after 11pm I was finally free to choose between writing and sleep.  I picked sleep.

After a couple of days I decided we don't need to worry about table lamps right now.  All that really matters is the stuff Ray will be hard-wiring onto ceilings and walls for us.  So I decided we should splurge on the only other light fixture I liked for a hallway that wasn't $500, wincing when I realized how the numbers add up when you need 4 of a light, no matter how 'affordable' it might be.  And then I went on with other things, realizing with a slow erosion on my once-again cheery mood that an eye-catchingly odd black and white design may look sharp in most hallways, but will probably jar against the muted tones I was hoping to do in our bedroom.  We used to have an actual door between the bedroom and the hall that leads to the master bath which would have eliminated this problem, but with the framing and everything it was going to be super narrow and the door would have covered part of a window when left open.  It was just a bad idea.  So Ray and I decided it should go, and he cut out all that framing, and now it's all wide open with a clear sightline to that high contrast ceiling light. 

I'm still struggling with how to make this situation work better.  Change the bedroom lights?  Hang a curtain?  Do a different hall light there?  Wait and see how it all looks installed, and fix it if it really is a problem?  I have no clue.

That third yarn had SO much blue.  I think I want something more intriguing.  This red and purple stripe has chartreuse and brown in it, which will be very exciting to watch unfold, and the green one looks like a science experiment. 

I might have to do Eenie Meanie Minie Moe on this one.  I am all decisioned out.

Hope you guys have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Two new old patterns to share

I decided a couple of weeks ago to turn two of my for-sale patterns into for-free ones.  Each one showcases a fun technique (stranding and shaping respectively), they are both fun to knit, and in spite of their being *totally* not in season as I post this, they do make perfect gifts for a best friend. 

Hot Stuff! a very warm hat
I mean honestly: what friend doesn't want a picture of a steaming cup on their forehead, handknit for them by You?  Nothing gets more attention, I promise you.  (okay, let's all agree that even though this is not necessarily what we're after when we go out in public tired and cold and just wanting our errands over with, it's still true that this hat gets attention.)

I loved making both of these patterns so much, and it's amazing to me now to think there was ever a time when I could just sit down and enjoy creating something new.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  You're swamped too.  Let's all make a deal about scaling back on stuff so we can relax more.  Then you'd have time to knit these patterns, or even just breathe deeply.  Deep breathing is so underrated.

Candy Wrapper - a very warm necklace

Because they're both older - the Wrapper is from 2011, and judging by my glazed expression I was coming down with a cold at the time - I'm not sure whether the yarns I used are still available.  This is one situation where substitution is a must!

Speaking of which, you can get away with acrylic for the Wrapper as long as your gauge is right, but I wouldn't risk it for Hot Stuff.  It's a stranded hat and will need the elasticity that only wool can give you.

Normally I would give you lots of luscious info on how you get that crazy scarf shape, and how long it took me to fix it so the steam that divides the names of our favourite hot beverages is actually coming up out of a mug (hint: a really, really long time), but I have been unexpectedly tight for time this week and it took me an hour just to get the pattern files over into the free area of this site, so I will just invite you to click on the .pdfs for all the info.

(that is all one sentence. poor self-editing, or use of language to express breathlessly chaotic day? I leave you to decide.)

Click here to download the .pdf of Candy Wrapper Scarflet

Click here to download the .pdf of Hot Stuff