Monday, December 14, 2009

have a seat...

gift knitting continues in all it's madness. thankfully, i seem to be getting on top of it, but then again christmas isn't here yet, so i shouldn't get all cocky about yet, should i?

these seat cushions were requested by my sister after seeing some of my string quilting experiments. i hope this is what she meant! handily, we have the same style of dining chairs, so that helped with the measurements, but i think in the end they are a bit smaller than i would have liked. should still work though. the backs are a lightly patterned blue, and make the covers easy to remove from the foam for ease of washing. i did quilt the tops to one layer of batting as well to give at least a slight "quilted" look.

i also finished two toques this weekend, which you can check out here and here. both quickie projects for my nephew and dad, respectively.

we are gearing up for our first real snowfall of the year tonight - a light dusting covers the ground outside my office right now, but we should get quite a bit more tonight. definitely helps the christmas spirit, even if i did end up having to come in to work instead of having the day off to go snowboarding as was planned...

Monday, December 07, 2009

breath of fresh (arctic) air

the days are clear and bright here, but the temps are hovering around 0 and below (celsius). monday to friday i head to work in just-barely daylight and come home as the sun is making a run for the hills (or behind the hills, as it were), so despite the beautiful light peeking through my office window, i myself have not been getting a lot of vitamin D. i also have a bad habit, especially this time of year, of getting caught up with crafts and baking and just plain cleaning the house on my days off, and before i know it it's dark again. so yesterday i thought i better get outside.

i took a walk at the airpark, which runs along the courtenay river estuary. the air was filled with gulls and geese flying back and forth, and hundreds of them lined the water's edge. the dry grasses rustled busily in the arctic breeze whistling along. and the sky was oh so blue. perfect for a solitary walk, and then to come home to a warm house with cheeks nice and rosy.

i also managed to finish off one more gift that had been languishing for a bit. this is my interpretation of pebble, a sweet little vest for my littlest nephew, in tweedy brown ravelled here. the actual knitting went quickly, but then it sat waiting for ends to be woven in and appropriate buttons to be picked. i omitted the buttons on the side, possibly out of laziness, but also because my nephew is getting a bit bigger and i think it will still be easy to get on him, plus the buttons at the shoulders should still help.

not sure what has possessed me this december - my house looks like some sort of craft bomb went off - balls of yarn, bits of felt, fabric, paper...i keep adding more gift projects to my list before i am finished the ones i already started.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

trying to be unselfish...

the new toast catalog arrived, and has me dreaming of being wrapped in woolens and tweeds and traipsing around the scottish countryside, or at least some ideas for new clothing to make. i want a new toque for snowboarding next weekend. and some new fingerless mitts to wear in my chilly office. and a new scarf...well, you all know how it goes. but i heard there's a little holiday fast approaching. not to mention a birthday in a week. so i am pushing aside (for the moment...) what i want, and trying to do a little gift projecting.

my sister requested some medium serving bowls for her birthday, which was easy to take care of, but they needed a little personal touch. so i made these quick potholders for her, out of assorted green cottons with a natural linen binding. i was impressed how fast they came together - just an easy evening project. now who else needs potholders...?

second up (hey, they get compiled until weekends when i can take photos, daylight being such a scarce commodity around here) is probably my biggest holiday project, which is happily completed nice and early. i have been planning this quilt for my niece since the summer, and had originally planned it for her birthday in october. when that didn't come together, i was determined for christmas, and thankfully it came together pretty quickly this month.

i kind of want it for myself...but A is not so hot on us putting a pink and purple quilt on our bed. hmph.

i've got a few more projects in the wings, maybe more photos for you tomorrow. i'm working on a cute little sweater vest for my littlest nephew (aka nephew #3) and i've promised myself if i complete it this afternoon i can spend the evening on something for me. if you're looking for projects for yourself or a quick gift for a stylish friend, martha is very kindly offering a free pattern for a cool origami wrap, i haven't had a chance to take photos of the one i made yet, but it's quite cozy. i also like to wear it wrapped in front and belted.

as always, more pics to be seen on flickr

Sunday, November 22, 2009

sunday under a quilt

sunday under a quilt, originally uploaded by westcoastcreative.

hand sewing the backside of a quilt binding is not exactly a thrilling way to spend my sunday. but spending it sewing the binding while snuggled under said quilt, catching up on last week's episode of house, eating popcorn, with the smell of baking bread and simmering chicken stock on the stove wafting through the air? perhaps not thrilling either, but not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

instant gratification and the gift slog

yesterday (i know, i started writing this last thursday!) i had a day at home for remembrance day, and after a trip downtown for the ceremonies, i had some precious daylight in which to craft and take photos. this shot is actually something made on sunday, as part of the silly fun that was craft weekend at my house.

yes, craft weekend. see, last fall a few friends and i started having craft nights, once a week or every couple weeks, a night to get together and chat and eat, and hopefully, work on some of our crafts-in-progress, which covered a wide range of knitting, sewing, art, etc. those nights have not yet been resurrected for this year, but hopefully soon - see, many folks work in the great outdoors all summer and aren't available for summer crafting, not to mention that drizzly, windy fall nights are of course perfect for this kind of friend get-together. but i'm getting a bit tangential here... so this year i devised the idea of a whole weekend of craft. not that that's not my usual weekend, really, but i thought it would be great to have a bunch of folks over, and include many who live far away. i had also been inspired by suse and her escapes to sewjourn (so jealous, why do we not have this in canada?). i think it worked out well, although any actual crafting that happened may have been accidental - we might try to be more productive next time. you see, there was wine, and snacks, and wine.

but i did show some folks how to strip quilt, and i ended up with this pretty neckwarmer. my friend amanda showed up wearing one, and then very kindly provided fabric for me to make my own. a nice little shot of colour for these dark days. just a quick rectangle of cotton on one side, fleece on the other, and a little loop and button to hold it together. instant gratification accessory.

hoping this weekend to have some shots for you of my first pieces of gift crafting, as that seems to be my focus right now...and probably till Dec 24th!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


today feels so short, with the time change and darkness coming an hour earlier. i certainly enjoyed the excuse to sleep in, but that only briefly distracts for the shortening days. the sky was clear for most of the day but with a distinct chill in the air. we had a quiet night for halloween, and a quiet day today. i've been playing around with a few things. my new tweed hat needed something to make it more personal, so i embroidered this little acorn on it. not a fantastic effort, but i think it's kinda cute. i can see doing this on a few more things, as i get inspired by the work of Melissa and others.

i have actually been working steadily on a new pair of socks for my dad. i missed the deadline of his birthday on thursday, but thankfully finished them today. he doesn't allow much "design", so they are not the most exciting socks to knit, or photograph, for that matter (dark blue, 4x1 rib), but i know they make him happy and that is what counts.

now that they are finished i have room to play with other ideas. i started a new weaving project today, assorted leftover purple sock yarn and some silver thread, to create something monochromatic with a bit of sparkle. i have a friend in mind, but we'll see how entranced my magpie tendencies get with the "ooh shiny" factor.

i'm also steadily dreaming up warm projects to cover my hands, head and other areas that need all the heat i can get as the weather cools down. i'm thinking steadily about a long, cabled cowl (the keyword floating around is "infinity scarf", but it kind of irritates me) in some teal blue cotton/wool that my mom gave me. some grey koigu is yearning to be some fingerless mitts. and i have some red and white sock yarn looking to be a doubleknit hat, i just need to work out the design. and that's just the knitting. they are several other projects on my to-do list, of the sewing, illustrating, weaving, quilting variety.

hope you had a good sunday and are not too full of sweets!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

fading daylight, fleeting days...

eep, where did the time go? i've been trying to update more regularly, but i knew october was going to be a challenge. a few days after my last post, we went to tofino for the annual surf kayak festival. i don't paddle, or haven't recently, but A does, and many of our friends. it is usually a fun weekend by the beach, a last camping trip for the season (and the weather was beyond beautiful for early October), a chance to visit with some folks we don't necessarily see that often, and soak up some west coast goodness.

the beautiful sunshine was not quite warm enough to forego a hat though, so it was a good thing i had recently finished (read: wove in the ends on the ride out there) a quick new purple toque. i have had two skeins of purple cashmerino in my stash for quite a while now, but hadn't found the right project for them. when i bought them, i thought getting two different shades of purple was a great idea, but later realized two skeins of one colour might have made a bit more sense, and made pattern selection a bit easier.

lately i have been admiring the many garter stitch stripe items i see on ravelry. they also remind me of many crochet hats i see on my friends, but with added benefit of not being crochet, which admittedly i'm not that fond of, not to mention not really knowing how to do it. so i hoped this hat combined both elements for a cozy, stripey, kinda hippie hat.

we also went on quick trip to vantage, wa to go climbing for a week (see top pic). but our week was cut disappointingly short when after two days of well-below-seasonal-norm temperatures, it proceeded to pour rain. in the desert. boo. needless to say not too impressed and the forecast wasn't improving much, so turned toward home after just three nights.

october has been rounded out with another trip to tofino with visitors from ontario, and now i am finally getting a chance to breathe a little. i hope to have another post for you this weekend, and more pics up on flickr soon. the weather seems to have settled in early to it's november routine of wind and wet, so it should be a perfect weekend for projects at home.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

woven rainbows

woven rainbows, originally uploaded by westcoastcreative.

i mentioned last week about some secret birthday crafting, so wanted to share it with you today. my mother, crafty teacher of me, and source of inspiration for many things, turned 60 this past sunday, a milestone for anyone and of special note because this year she is officially twice my age. so i wanted to make her something special.

we have both gushed over the lovely kauni rainbows, and my mom loves her bright colours, but i wanted to do something a bit different than my first instinct, which was to knit with it. she, in fact, as a skein of this herself, and is working on knitting something, so i didn't want to compete with anything she would make for herself. i've been playing with the loom a lot as well, rediscovering the simple act, and enjoying how variegated yarns like this transform slowly through colours, and interplay as they are woven together. so this is what i made.

scarf? table runner? possibly either, the options are open. it is a bit stiff for a scarf maybe, although i think a soak would soften up the wool at bit. i really like the way the rainbow travels both from side to side as well as down the length of the runner, so you get to see the different colours interact. i'm already plotting what next i can play with on my little loom. it's so interesting to see how different colours as well as textures weave together.

for more images, please see here

Monday, September 21, 2009

experimenting with string theory

a quick post, i'm feeling low on words. i have been playing around with string quilting. i wanted to make some cushions for our dining chairs, so i started making some squares. it is actually quite addictive, and i have made three now. but i think i'm going to keep them all in the red/orange/yellow colour scheme, and the blue square will probably end up as a couch cushion. i can see why string quilting seems to be all over flickr these days. i like incorporating all the little scraps i have that won't amount to much otherwise.

what else did i do yesterday, you ask? (well, hopefully you ask, if you are reading, dear reader). i made kagels! it makes me giggle each time i say they, particularly exemplified by my coworker today, asking "aren't those those exercises you do...?" yeah, exactly. but what i mean in this case, is kale bagels. the recipe is from have cake, will travel and i have to claim them as a complete success, although no one has yet tried them other than me. the whole thing was not nearly as labour-intensive as i feared, although i find the different steps of bread making to be a nice meditative process that i can do in between other tasks on a sunday afternoon. and the results were great, flavourful, and nice and chewy just like a bagel should be.

the sun was shining bright yesterday, a perfect crisp fall day of which it looks like there might be many this week. well fall is relative, i always find it hard to dress when it is 7 degrees C in the morning and 25 in the afternoon. good thing i consider myself a master of layers. so i did spend a bit of time on the lawn yesterday, but no pics of my project to share as it was super secret birthday crafting. but the above pic might give you a little clue, as these ladies and i definitely had a similar sensibility in mind. they are so very busy outside our door these days. there are three spiders in this photo, two more webs quite nearby, and two more spiders spinning busily outside our bedroom window, which is not far to the right of this pic. i enjoy checking out their work, even if i do occasionally walk into them while absorbed in garden tasks, and then frantically swipe at myself if fear of a spider settling in to my hair.

the quilt is finished, by the way. i stayed up late the night before A came home, the first time i have painstakingly handstitched a binding. heather bailey offers an excellent tutorial on the whole thing. please check out my flickr to see pics, although i hope to put together a post soon. thanks for the kind words.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

how was your sunday?

sundays are often a contemplative day for me, a day to wake late and approach the day with both an eye to get things done and one to rest up before the week ahead. a. quite often works weekends, where i always have them off, so it's a regular thing for me to have time to myself on this day. in this case he is away until wednesday, so most of my day was spent sewing madly, in an attempt to finish our new queen-sized quilt for the bed before he comes home. hmmm, it's still undecided if that will actually happen.

but to avoid going completely cross-eyed, i took a little walk by the river, just up the road. fall is definitely in the air, my favourite time of year. i love when the sun is shining but the air has a new crispness, a sniff of frosty days to come. colours seem richer without the heat haze, and while we don't get the hues of eastern autumns, there are still reds and oranges and yellows to be found, mixed in with the steady green of the evergreens.

as to many people, this always feels like the real start of the year to me, back to school still ingrained in my mind so that i always feel the excitement for new clothes at this time, a new notebook and pens to write in. but now i also feel the "nesting" pull (well okay i almost always feel the need to nest), and there are many projects on the go besides the quilt: knitted, sewn, woven. with both my parents having birthdays coming up, presents are being made for each. a cowl for myself in a perfect autumnal yellow, and so many in my mind - and my ravelry queue - that i have to force myself to focus and just finish what is in the works first. it's hard though, when days feel fleeting, and evening sets in sooner than expected.

the rest of this month and all of october are shaping up to be busy months, with some vacation travelling and guests visiting to fill in the gaps between work and craft. but i hope to get back to a bit of regular blogging, and hope to encourage a bit more dialogue here, and share a bit more of all the things that keep me busy, not just posting FOs with a blurb of text. i've been updating my flickr a bit more too, so feel free to stop over there and see more images than are posted here.

so, what did you do with your sunday? i'd love to hear all about it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

catching up...

I have a little pre-occupation with outfitting myself in all white when snowboarding. It probably won't happen - I'm likely to get a red hard shell jacket (in line with the two other red jackets I already have - for other uses), but I do have white boots, bindings, pants, and so of course I needed a fluffy white toque.

Another quick hat (are they ever not quick - such fun, instant gratification projects hats are) knit up in superwash merino, and the last little bit used to make a pompom to top it. I kind of wish the pom was bigger, but alas, that was the last of the 2nd skein. For more details, check out my Ravelry project page.

The fog has been heavy upon us lately, thick and soup and rarely providing a glimpse of the supposed clear sky above. It is finally starting to thin, but yesterday we decided to escape it for a little while and check out the temperature inversion going on.

Foggy and 2 degrees C at sea level? How about sunny and a balmy 13 degrees high on the ski hill? A bit ridiculous, and the slopes certainly aren't in much condition for downhill action. So for a change of pace we went cross country skiing with a few friends. Haven't done it in many many years, but I enjoy the swish swish through the snow (okay, nearing slush in late afternoon), and may try to get in a few more tours this season.

Returning home again, the fog will still thick over the water. This shot was taken just a few blocks above our house in late afternoon. But just a short shot down the hill into our own yarn there wasn't much to be seen, just thickening grey and the sounds of fog horn, ferry horn, and other vessels trying to find their way.

And I've got one more FO to share. Again, deets are on Rav. I knit up these "Boyfriend Socks" for, obviously, the boy, but I kind of wish they were for me. This yarn is yummy and squishy, aptly named "Foot Loose" and the cabling was addictive. I adjusted the pattern a bit as usual - either everyone else has really wide feet, or more likely I am just a looser knitter than everyone, but by removing a few stitches they fit A perfectly.

Now I want to make some 2009 socks for myself, but there are many projects in the works (and in my head). Currently I'm plugging away at a Baby Surprise Jacket, for my brand new nephew born last week.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

old and new...

This is a pretty photo-heavy post, but how else to get a good picture (yuk, yuk, wry punster) of the end of the old year and beginning of the new?
The last days of December were much snowier than we here on the wet coast are used to. The snow never seemed to stop, and over Christmas we were well ensconced at my parents home, with the snow falling heavily all around. The first few shots capture some of that.
I don't think the alpacas were all that impressed with the snow, not straying often from the well worn path. But if anyone has a nice winter sweater to keep them warm, it's them right? Well them and the sheep, and both crews were eager for hay when no fresh grass was to be found.
The Tapestry Cowl is finished! A new skill figured out (double knitting), and a pretty nice finished product to boot. That chart killed me a bit - 67 rows x 110 (220) stitches with no repeats- but the result is very cool. I ended up having to take out about 15 rows actually, as I feared I was running out of yarn (my gauge was a bit off), but I probably could have left at least 5 of those in in the end.
I have never used Koigu before, but sense a lot of people love it so I may be scorned for speaking ill. However, despite it being very soft after a good soak, I was disappointed that the cowl stretched out a lot (and I tried to keep it in shape as much as possible while drying) and also seemed to get quite floppy, and not retaining the nice structure it had before. It still worked to keep my face warm while boarding, but due to the change in dimensions it does not stay up as well as it might have.
This is a great pattern though, and I would like to try it again - or make something else in double knitting with a similar idea (but possible repeats in the colourwork?) The colours of the Koigu are great too.
Lastly, a few more winter shots. We've gotten out for two days of boarding in the last week - although somehow the mountains have much less snow than normal despite all the snow at sea level. I was definitely having troubles on my board on the first day, but yesterday was a bit better. These pics are from yesterday at Mount Cain. A rare peek at a snowy white ptarmigan pecking at branches poking out of the snow (these birds are brown in the summer) entertained several skiers and boarders at the top of the t-bar.
And another shot from the top of the first t-bar - the weather changed a lot yesterday, including a heavy blizzard while driving home. Hope you are all having a good start to the year - today we are having more traditional west coast weather, a howling southeaster. and we were even without power for a couple of hours.