Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Birthday Goodies!

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And really cool stuff just keeps coming :) I love it!

Where do I begin. First I would have to explain that this wonderful lady whom I've known and said hello to for 3 and a half years when I worked as an admin assistant on that floor and finally came to discover that she is a fellow knitting addict, a fellow Raveler (3 weeks ago) and a gemini to boot made my day yesterday.

We met over a coffee at Tim Horton's since she told me she had a real life RAK (Random Act of Kindness) for me. What I didn't realise was that she was also celebrating my birthday! It's truly wonderful when you get to know someone and it turns out that you have so much in common, being gemini the least of it.

I was handed a reusable shopping bag with what I thought was my RAK, which was a lovely treasure pile of buttons of all sizes shapes and colors, as well as a row counter. What I got on top of that was like Christmas morning and you dump out your stocking and a whole pile of treasures come out. In this case, treasure I had to dig for in the bin of buttons!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Early Birthday goodies!

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Earlier this week, a friend dropped by to see how I was recovering from the bout of acute bronchitis I came down with several weeks back. She brought me these gorgeous flowers to cheer me up. I am quite amazed that after almost a week, they are still as gorgeous as the day she brought them.

Today was an absolutely lovely day. My darling husband who for once was relatively pain free from kidney stones decided to take me out to lunch and Walmart. Since my birthday is Tuesday, he told me to pick out a few things for myself that I wanted for my birthday. Knowing how small our budget is, I went for the things I can use over not so useful items.

First thing we did after we got off the transit bus was head over to A & W. An old favorite haunt of mine, hubby being Belgian had not been to one of these in his youth. I introduced him to A & W rootbeer not long after he'd landed in Canada, but only introduced him to the burgers and fries a few years ago. Thankfully he fell in love with the place just as much as I like it. So my birthday lunch was, of course, A & W!

Then on to Walmart where I picked up 2 bins to help store the growing stash. I have my daughter to thank for that since she found a store where she lives that was selling Bernat Solo for .99 cents a ball! She went to town and bought me enough to fill a bin! The second bin is for storing all the lovely yarn she finds at local secondhand stores where she lives. I also picked up 4 DVDs (on sale at 2 for $10) Rain Man, Dances with Wolves, Spiderman and The Princess Bride. Yes I know, girly movie but I like it and Jean Ferré, aka André the Giant, is in it. A WWF wrestler from a long time ago, and yes, I was a fan.

I also picked up, Just After Sunset by Stephen King, one of my favorite authors. The book is a compilation of recent short stories. I've always liked his short stories as they have always been a fast get to the point read as opposed to his books which sometimes tend to drag on a bit too much, as if he's not sure how to bring the story to an end. I know, Stephen King fans are beating at the door, but I am only being honest in my view of his writing. This doesn't by any means say that I don't like his novels. On the contrary, I have read every one of them as well as some of his biographical works. One of my all time favorite novels is The Stand. His apocaliptic view of north american society, man as a race, the battle between good and evil is a must read. I have read both versions, the 1978 original and the 1991 re-release which is an unabridged rewrite of the original since he updated the scenario, reinserted approximately 400 pages that had been cut in the original and changed the setting to 1990 from 1980.

I headed over to the yarn department (one side of a short aisle) Didn't see anything that excited my knitting or crochet mojo and moved on to the craft aisles to check out the beads. Last time I was at that particular Walmart, they had E-beads, not a lot but maybe 10 or so colors and styles. This time, there were all of 2! and they were the last 2 bags. The pale ones were .99 cents and the dark purplish/bluish ones were $1.29 or something like that. I also picked up some nice darning needles, the ones with the flattened tip and a few half rounds for those hard to reach places that need to be seamed when you're assembling amigurumi pets or toys.

I've also been working on finishing my daughter's hoodie. As you can see from the picture, I've been sewing the zipper to the bands that will be attached to the front of the hoodie. I figured might as well sew it on the bands instead of waiting until the bands are sewed to the hoodie. Less bulky this way and since the temperatures are climbing, 20C today, it's a lot cooler if I have 2 bands resting on my legs instead of an entire thick warm hoodie on there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fraggles knit too!

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I always enjoyed Fraggle Rock when my children were young. I'd sit and watch the show with them and had just as much fun as they did.

While cruising around YouTube, I happened to find this video of Fraggles singing about knitting. What more could you ask for, really cute Fraggles and really cool knitting.

My favorite fraggle was Red. She was so cool and fearless.

In other news, I'm still working on my son's skull blanket, the shawl for a friend of a friend and a cool looking shopping bag called a Masa bag. The pattern is available here as well as a tutorial on how to fold the bag once you're done the crochet part of it. It's a really simple project and it works great with just about any worsted weight yarn. I'll be adding a 2nd ball of yarn to the rectangle. The yarn isn't as colorful as the first ball, but I figure if I add the extra pieces to each end, thank goodness for crochet, it will look like it was done like that on purpose.. oh wait... that's what I intended to do right from the start! The shoulder strap part will also be made from the 2nd ball of yarn.
Later days...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My very first design!!!

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I'm finally doing it. I designed something that I'm confident enough to publish! Albeit free, but still, it's here!

Maneki Neko Cellphone Cozy
Design by MarieAnge Brouillard

My daughter is a huge anime and manga fan. When she lost her cellphone cozy she asked me to make her a new one. After browsing through countless patterns and not finding anything I liked, I designed my own. This cozy will fit a cellphone that is 4 inches (10 cm) in height and 2.5 inches (5 cm) wide.

You will need:
  • Size 6US or 4mm straight needles
  • Size 7US or 4.5 mm straight needles for cast on and bind off
  • Darning needle
  • Size 3mm crochet hook
  • Small amount of bulky yarn of your choice for cozy
  • Small amounts of white, pink and black dk yarn for embroidery
  • Small button

For my daughter's cozy I used Bernat Masala Hyacinth Hues because it was the closest color to match her cellphone.

Stitches used:
  • K – knit
  • P - purl

Using a knitted cast on method along with size 7US (4.5mm) needles CO 15 sts.
Switch to size 6US (4mm) needles

Row 1: *k2, p1* repeat to end
Row 2: *k2, p1* repeat to end

Repeat these two rows until the piece measures 5 inches (12.5 cm) unstretched.

Loosely bind off using the same needles used for the cast on.

Lay the piece flat, find the center and fold it to create a crease in the yarn. Mark the crease with a bit of yarn at each end. Unfold your rectangle and you should have a rectangle that looks like the one shown here.

Using a crochet hook and white yarn slip stitch the outline of the cat onto one half of your knitted rectangle.

Slip Stitch on knitting method

Hold the working yarn under the piece, with your crochet hook, from the top poke through the knitted rectangle and pick up the yarn from below. Draw up a loop and stretch it just enough so you have a nice small loop, keeping the loop on your crochet, poke the crochet through the knitted rectangle a short distance away from your first stitch and draw up another loop of yarn through the first loop. Keep doing this until the outline of your cat is done.

With a darning needle, add the eyes, and fill in the ears using slip stitch embroidery.

Take a piece of black yarn, make a triple knot in the middle, pass the two ends on either side of where you want the nose to sit and pull through and knot on the back side of the rectangle.

With pink yarn, add the mouth starting at the nose.

For the whiskers, make a knot close to the end of a short piece of 3 ply white yarn and separate the 3 plies which will give you the 3 whiskers. Poke the needle through where you want the whiskers to sit and make a large knot underneath. Poke the needle through to the right side where you want the other whiskers to sit and make a knot close to the fabric. Cut yarn leaving a short piece that you separate for the whiskers. See picture for placement.

Sew a small shiny button onto the belly of the cat.

With right sides facing, sew the bottom and side of the cozy using the mattress stitch method so both edges meet and do not overlap. You want the cozy to hold the cellphone snuggly.

I hope you enjoy the pattern. Please be respectful of copyright issues. This pattern is for personal use only and is not to be sold under any circumstances. The pattern is also not to be used to knit and sell the finished item. Charity knitting is always welcome along with the use of this pattern.

PS. If you find any mistakes, or have questions, do not hesitate to let me know. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hello world, it's been a while!

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I can honestly say that April was not kind to us. So far, May isn't looking much better but I can only hope for the best.

I'm recovering from a fairly serious bout of bronchitis aggravated by COPD. Thankfully, the chest x-rays were clear...considering how my sister was taken from us, it's a blessing that mine were clear of any nastiness. My ribs are finally thanking me for not coughing so much. Last week was wrapped in a haze of medication, pain and coughing with very little sleep. The past couple of nights I've actually been able to sleep for more than 7 minutes at a time AND laying down! I love my bed!

On the knitting and crocheting side of life, being too sick to knit and or crochet definitely meant that I really wasn't doing too well. The few times I did some knitting on the various ongoing projects, only led to disastrous results and much gnittink I did manage to figure out the 4 corners squares for my son's blanket though and that's a plus.

Yesterday, my darling daughter stopped in on her way to her Narcolepsy & Cataplexy specialist and brought presents of yarn, lovely balls of spring colors; lavenders, lilacs and variegated yarns for me to play with. She was also very concerned with my health but saw that I was weak but definitely on the mend. The lack of a job also worries her and she asked me to make up a list of absolute needs groceries. I've learned over the years not to argue with my daughter on what we need or may not need and just gave her the list without a battle or a "but hon, we're doing fine. " She returned from her appointment with groceries and the fixings for supper! She is a cook at a fairly large restaurant and last nigth we got treated to a lovely stir fry supper with veggies and chicken and udon noodles. It was delicious!

In return, while she was gone to her Dr's appointment, I crocheted a pair of cycling fingerless gloves for her. She doesn't want anything covering the palms but she definitely needed some weather protection for her knuckles and the backs of her hands since she bikes home in the middle of the night most times when the weather is still rather cold at this time of year. I made them to match her jacket, Bright Orange. We had a good laugh and then she agreed that no one would dare to grab those since they are so bright and Orange.

I also started a plastic bag holder for her when she comes next time. It sort of looks like an upside down acorn that got stretched out or the weird stem of a plant. Either way it's getting decorated with tambour crochet so it at least looks nice while holding plastic bags for reuse. I hope she likes it :)

Mother's day was difficult this year, considering my sister always sent me a card for mother's day, it just brought things to the fore for me and I just wanted to not think about it on Sunday. I called my Mom and left her a message wishing her a happy Mother's day. Her boyfriend had taken her out to dinner at a local restaurant and they ended up spending the day out driving around looking at the countryside and all the trees and flowers blooming which I know she loves to do.

Spring always reminds me of my grandmother. Two of hers and my favorite flowers bloom in spring. A breeze gently blows and the sweet smell of lilies of the valley and lilacs brings back memories. Nothing lets me know more than these that spring is here and always reminds me just how much I miss my grandmother. She passed away almost 20 year ago but amazingly, the pain I feel is just as fresh as if she'd passed away yesterday. She taught me much, including knitting, patience, love, how to survive on less and how to appreciate the simple things in life.

Born in 1913, she grew up in a poor single parent family, her Dad having passed away a few months before she was born. She was the youngest of 8 children ranging in age from 12 to 1 year. Growing up was filled with teasing from her older siblings, wearing handmedowns that had worn out 2 children earlier but were patched and made to go just one more round. She had fond memories of fishing for brook trout in the small rill that flowed behind the farm house, of eating ripe juicy blackberries off the branch while picking out the brambles that had stuck to her shirt getting to them, picking wild strawberries for jams and jellies put up for the following winter, of eating sweetened curdled milk and bread sprinkled with a few berries for supper and getting up with the sun to get the cows in for milking. Her life was not an easy one, she and her husband managed to raise 2 children during the great depression, and to retain ownership of their 100 acre farm through the second world war. They survived a barn fire that took everything but the cows in the mid 60's, rebuilt and passed the farm on to their daughter, my mother, when they retired from farming in the late 60's. Grandma was always there with a bandaid to cover a scratch or a bump, a hug to heal the teasing, and a kiss for a dusty nose sitting in the bathtub at the end of the day. I miss her wisdom, her memories of days gone by, her courage and her great love of nature and all things growing. I miss her talents at figuring out how to make do. I miss her.