Monday, December 31, 2007

(Modified) Winter Sunrise Toque

The Thursday before Christmas, The Boy and I had planned to go to Zoo Lights, a massive light display set up every December at the Calgary Zoo. It had been fairly warm (for December in Canada) but the temperature suddenly dropped and the wind picked up just before he picked me up. At that point I realized with all the warm toques I make for other people, I didn't actually have a decently warm one for myself! We shivered our way through the light displays, making our way from one fire-pit to the next before we finally made it to the cafeteria for "hot chocolate" (mine was primarily warm chocolate syrup).

I knit this toque so that I would have something warm to wear the next time I needed to go out in the cold:
New Toque

I used stashed beige wool of unknown provenance and stashed Jaeger Shetland Aran for the blue. I borrowed the chart (and modified it for a larger gauge) from the Winter Sunrise Hat (link to the pdf pattern) pattern at Exercise before Knitting.

My new toque is very warm and cozy... I took it out for a test walk before the flu hit.

On the way to the Zoo Lights, we were listening to the radio and talking about music. I mentioned that I had been listening to Boney M's Christmas CD in my car all week. I was saying that when it comes on you can't help but sing along. He was laughing and I sang "Mary's Boy Child, Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day". He said "Is that what it's called?" I said "Mary's Boy Child? Yeah." He said "Really? Mary Boychuk?" I laughed so hard I nearly choked. I said "Yes, Mary and Joseph Boychuk gave birth to Jesus."

Happy New Year all. I plan to be horizontal from now until January 2, due to the ongoing flu that has taken over my life... ugh.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Escape from Santa's Secret Sweatshop (pt. 2)

Once I was finished with the commissioned slipper socks, I had to get moving on the actual Christmas gift making I had planned.

First up:
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Christmas Stockings for my two youngest nieces. It should be noted that these represent the 8th and 9th stockings I've made for my nieces and nephews. Yes. 9. (Nine). I came up with the idea about 3 years ago, not long after we lost my Dad. I asked my Mom for some of his clothing that was too worn to be taken to the Salvation Army. At the time, I only (ha) had 5 to make. They are just a simple pieced top which is then machine quilted with some batting and a plain fabric back. Then I sewed the tops to a plain fabric back. The cuff is plain cotton doubled and I have made letters from polymer clay to spell out each of the names. (not shown). When I made the first ones I had never even thought of quilting and had no idea what I was doing. They turned out pretty good, considering, and I've since made 4 more. Unless there are some surprises coming, I'm pretty sure this is the end of the line for the stockings... ehem.

My next project was for my two smallest nieces also: (I have one more to make for my sister's little girl. I'm going to mail it later this week... if when I get it done)
Baby for Kaylee
I found several different sources for free rag-doll patterns online for inspiration and a template to make this little one. I love how she turned out. I decided to use the purple yarn for hair mostly because I thought it would be cute. The dress is reversible, the side showing right now matches a dress I made for Kaylee (the niece this doll went to) in the summer. She seemed to like the doll, but she also got really excited about the box, so I'm not too sure. (Kaylee is 10 months old so I'll let it slide)

Next up was a robe for my mom. I used the robe pattern from Amy Butler's In Stitches. The fabric is cotton flannel. I bought a couple of sets of double sheet sets at Zellers in the summer on sale and have used the fabric to make a robe for myself, this one for Mom and I have 2 more cut out for friend gifts (to be completed)(ehem)
Mom's Robe
I also "made" some soap (melt and pour) and some small bath bombs. I couldn't seem to find citric acid to make them from scratch, but I found a kit at Michael's which produced enough small bath bombs to have a few each for my mom and my 2 friends.

I have a few finished knitting objects that I've completed for myself (gasp!) to show off, and I have a Christmas gift from The Boy to show you, but those will wait for another time. In the spirit of Christmas, one of my nephews shared his cold with me. He's only 2 so I couldn't really explain to him that, while I admire his willingness to give and to share, I would have preferred something a little less achy and snotty. (ew)(sorry)

Must lie down. Finished object posting will resume tomorrow.
I just re-read this post and the grammar is awful. (and yet I do nothing to correct it) Please to excuse me. My head is not working so good. Better next time.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The other side: Escape from Santa's Secret Sweatshop (pt. 1)

I've been meaning to post for quite some time now... Somehow I ended up getting sucked into Santa's Secret Sweatshop mode...

This year I was determined to NOT knit multiple whatevers for Christmas gifts. Last Year's frenzied knitting nearly turned me off the whole endeavor (knitting that is. Not so much Christmas) and this year I was not going to do that again.

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See these? These are 3 pairs of slipper socks that I knit on commission for a guy at work. 3 pairs of slipper socks I started on Saturday, December 15 to be handed over before the 20th. 3 pairs of slipper socks I designed, charted, and knit starting December 15 and completed at noon on December 19th.

(In fairness to the guy from work, he did ask me about it at least 1 1/2 weeks earlier. The late timing was my bad).

I'm very happy with how they turned out, except for one minor area that I noticed after I had completed pair #2:
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D'oh. Lesson(s) to learn from this photo:
1. Don't knit stranded colorwork when not paying attention
2. Don't knit stranded colorwork with The Boy leaning on your shoulder wanting you to pay attention to him.
3. Don't plan, chart, and knit 3 of the same stranded colorwork items within a 4 day period on a deadline.

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Mostly though, I love how they turned out and plan to actually knit them again to make myself a pair.

I have more Christmas Crafting to post. Tune in next time to see Purple Haired Babies and Shape Shifted Sheets!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Oh, so THAT's the way it's gonna be, huh?

Driving home from work Friday evening I decided to change my plan for the weekend. See, I had planned to work on Christmas presents and a sweater I'm making up as I go. But, suddenly Winter decided to check its calendar and it is C.O.L.D.


(Screenshot from 11 AM Saturday. That's in Celsius. Not factoring in the windchill. It's colder now 3 hours later)

(Seriously)(Although, truthfully, it's not as cold as it was this time last year. Maybe I'm getting wimpy.)(but it's still cold)

So, I decided that a change in plans was called for...

Thrummed Mittens:
mmmm fluffy
Obligatory inside out thrummed mitten shot. I used Alpaca roving I got from friends who raise alpacas. So soft.

mmmm  toasty

I decided to go "tone-on-tone" using stash Elann Peruvian Highland Wool. I used the pattern in Interweave Knits Winter 2006, but there are patterns available free online for the Googling.

These mittens should help.
You have GOT to be kidding
(I may or may not be using sign language to express my feelings about the weather in this photo)

Now to go knit the second one and contemplate going out to plug in my car...

PS. Thank you all for the comments and birthday wishes over the past weeks. Bad blogger, I haven't replied. My birthday turned into a week and a half-long celebration, as I was at home with Mom and my older brother and his family on weekend before my birthday, then got taken out for several meals on the weekend of (so. good. so. full. of. food.) and capped off with cake with my younger brother's family the Wednesday after.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not breaking any hips yet...

I slipped on some stairs in the mall yesterday. Slid down several on my heels and then on my butt and legs. Wrenched my left arm backwards. No broken bones. I guess I'm not that old yet (i.e. no broken hip) but definately not graceful.

So, for today, my 37th birthday, I have some lovely bruises. Happy old-lady birthday to me...

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I finished the first sock from the Annetrelac socks (Interweave Knits Holiday). Knit in Patons Kroy Krazy Stripes. I really like this sock, it knit up pretty quickly and entrelac in the round was fun to learn. When I tried it on (before it was finished) all I could think was "It's a good thing I'm not self conscious about my ankles." It's like a down vest for the ankle!

I have a few other items in the works. I should get in the habit of taking in-progress pics... Not today though. Today I'll try to get as much done with as little stress as possible at work, then The Boy is taking me out for my birthday (not sure what the plan is).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New!

I've been busy. I have actually finished some WIPs! Some of them have been UFOs for a LONG LONG time... Some of them were started while I should have been working on other things...

1. New Vest!
I made this over a weekend a couple of weeks ago. (Forgot to post it... )
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Pattern: Back-To-School U-Neck Vest from Fitted Knits
Yarn: From stash!! Elann Peruvian Highland Wool (50g, 100 m/109 yd); approx. 4.5 balls
Mods: I made the ribbed section longer, started the U-neck a bit lower, didn't do the edging on the arms and only did 3 rounds of stocking stitch (which rolled in ) for the neck.
Verdict: LOVE. Great stash buster, the darts make it fit really well, I think I may make another one from stash.

2. New Bag!
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New tote bag for work.
I had this idea in my head for a while and suddenly had the urge to make it last weekend. So far I love it. I used remnant material for the outer fabric, cotton tea towels for the lining, rings for curtains for the handle rings...

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The inside has 2 patch pockets and a divider with a zippered pocket. I hadn't ever tried to make a divider in a bag, and couldn't seem to find instructions, so I just winged it. It turned out pretty well considering.

3. New (and repaired) Scarf/Stole!
This is intended as a gift for my friend. You may recall the heart stopping incident of a few weeks ago. I frogged to where I had threaded yarn to stop the run, managed to find my place in the chart and completed it last night.
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Pattern: I altered the charts for Icarus from Interweave Knits Summer 2006.
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Multi (100 gr, 344 m/376 yd), slightly more than one skein

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I love how it turned out, it's exactly what I had in mind when I started (minus the terror of the dropped stitch). I'm hoping my friend loves it too.

4. New Socks!
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I love it when the stripes end up matching.
Yarn: Online Supersocke 100 Tropic-Color
Pattern: My usual "cast on 64 and go"
First new socks of the fall.

5. New Icelandic Stranded Cardigan!
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Sigh. Love.
Pattern: Hela Short Cardigan free from Istex
Yarn: Alafoss Lopi
Mods: I made the body a bit longer than called for in the pattern.
I started this cardigan in May. I had about 4 inches of the body knit and then it got warm and it kept getting further and further down in the WIPs basket. I pulled it out a few weeks ago and got going on it. I love how it turned out, although the stranded section is a bit tighter gauge than the rest (should have gone up a bit in needle size).

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This sweater was my very first steek experience. It was every bit as edge-of-your-seat terrifying and exhilarating as I thought it would be (complete with a broken thread on the machine steeked edge... )
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6. My last "new" thing isn't something I personally did, but I like it none-the-less... New Hair(cut)!
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I have bangs!! I haven't had bangs since High school! This was one of the only times ever that I left the stylist and liked how she styled my hair. (i went out and bought a flat iron...)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

$%&*!!!!!!!!!!!

If you live in the Calgary area, you may have heard a blood-curdling scream at or about 10:45pm tonight. You may have actually heard it further afield, I'm not sure.

You see, I finished knitting a wrap I was working on. I pinned it out to block.

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Ahh. So pretty. wait. What's that? There in the corner?

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(the pin is there to try to stop the carnage...)

(... but... as I was taking the picture above, it ran even further)
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At this point, I am just going to leave it for night, let it dry and look at it tomorrow. I threaded a piece of waste yarn in to the stitches just below where the run stopped. I'm not sure if I'll be able to figure out where it is in the lace pattern so I may need to frog the whole border. argh.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ouch.

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I think I need to face facts. My wrist and shoulder hurt. That day that every knitter dreads has arrived. It is bothering my arm to knit. I think it's because I knit the ribbing and 5 rounds of my Deep V Argyle vest last night on bamboo needles that had a really clunky join. Having to fight to move the stitches around the circular needle + sticky wool + stranded knitting = ouch.

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Today I decided that I was going to set the Deep V vest aside until I got better needles and worked on this:
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Textured Tunic from Fitted Knits. I'm using a much finer yarn than called for, which is producing a nice drapey fabric. I opted to not do the flaps with buttons and just did a shirt-tail type hem. I plan to make it long sleeved rather than the 3/4 shown.

But, it too, was ouch. DK weight cotton yarn on US 10 1/2 needles (again with not the smoothest join in the world) contributed to the wrist and shoulder discomfort.

I went to the LYS this afternoon in search of a better US4 circular with which to knit my vest and I now have a brand new BFF:
IMG_0612
I splurged on a set of Addi Turbo Lace circulars. Sigh. So smooth, so sleek but not overly slippery. Sigh.

I may have been tempted by some beautiful Araucania Ranco Multy but I ABSOLUTELY did NOT* buy any. No I didn't*. Honest*.

So, now what do I do? I bought some fabric (**cough** on-sale sheet set **cough**) with which to make a new bathrobe and a pair of pajama pants, but it didn't completely dry in the dryer (grr) so I won't be sewing tonight. So, I'll try spinning and hopefully I can do THAT. Or I'll work on the fabric pieces for the duvet cover I started months ago. How do people just sit in the evenings? I don't know about you, but I have realized lately that I find it nearly impossible to just sit still without doing something or making something, even while watching TV.

* lies. all lies. sorry. I did buy 2 skeins for a friend's birthday present which, in my internal justification system makes it alright. ehem.
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Transformers Toque Pattern

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I sat down today and wrote out the pattern for the toque. I've put together a .pdf file with the instructions, pictures and charts. I'm trying out a file hosting site, so let's see how that works out...

Transformers Toque Pattern Please let me know if this link isn't working. This is my first time using this hosting site and I'm not sure how well it will work yet.

Disclaimer: This pattern has not been test-knit. I wrote it up after the fact from memory, but I'm pretty sure it's accurate.

Please let me know if you knit one! I would love to see them.

I told the boy about posting the pictures and the response here and on Craftster and his big concern was that he wouldn't have a unique toque anymore. So I explained that each person will interpret the pattern/charts in their own way and each will be different. He still was concerned (jokingly so, I hope) so I assured him that NONE of the commenters would be from the Calgary area... Boys. So, dear friends, when you make your own Transformers toque, if you happen to be in the Calgary area, if you see the boy in the black & orange Transformers toque and you are wearing your own Transformers toque, do me a favor and hide yours? K? And tell him you like his...

Please feel free to email me at subloke AT hotmail DOT com if you have any questions about the pattern or have difficulty with my instructions...

Dollar & a Half Cardigan

Finally finished...

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Pattern: Dollar and a Half Cardigan by Veronik Avery, Interweave Knits Spring 2007
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Taupe
Mods: My yarn choice was a heavier weight than that called for in the pattern, so I used US 7s (pattern called for 5s I believe). I knit the numbers for a size smaller than what I needed to make up for the difference in gauge, which is a fairly lazy math-free way to do a re-sizing...

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I have a jar full of buttons but couldn't find 4 that a) matched; b) were the right size; c) were the right color and was getting frustrated. I finally remembered the wooden buttons on an old, worn out sweater that I had in my closet. Voila.

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I absolutely love this sweater. The only thing that was keeping it from getting done was my extreme distractibility (totally is a word) and I finished it just in time to wear it this fall.

Next up: Eunny Jang's Deep V Argyle Vest. I dyed some recycled wool for it last night:
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(the darker purple is even deeper than this picture shows).
Can't wait to get going on it.

And now, the moment (some of) you have been waiting for: I have the pattern complete with charts ready for the Transformers Toque. I'll give it a separate post so it can be found later if anyone wants.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

more than meets the eye...

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Autobot - the Good guys (for the uninitiated among us)

Back in June, I saw a Transformers knit toque (hat) on Craftster. I showed it to The Boy and he was, well, excited about it. To say he likes the Transformers would be a slight understatement. He hinted/asked/begged for one of his own. I played it quiet and said he might get one some day...

Meanwhile, I was charting furiously, searching for just the right images, trying to decide how to place the icons and what to do with the sides/stranded insides...

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Decepticon - the Bad guys

I finally decided to do one icon on the "front" and one on the "back" so he could switch back and forth if he wants. The panels between were a simple dotted pattern alternating every row.

My favorite part though:
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The inside reads: "More than meets the eye" (a line from the theme song).

His response? Jumping up and down excited. I don't think i've had that excited a reaction for a knitted gift ever! Kinda makes a person want to knit more gifts, you know?

Key quote: "I can wear it like THIS if I want to be good! or like THIS if I want to be bad!!! or like THIS if i want to be sneaky" then he made the transformers noise and turned it inside out. Aww. Transformers geek fan. So funny.

Pattern: My own. I am planning to put together the charts I used and make it available (probably by email unless someone can explain to me how to put up a pdf online for download?)(?)
Yarn: Lanett Superwash 100% merino (BTW: SO soft! I love this yarn!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm back. for now.

Today I am doing this
ahhh  sunday
(first new sock of the fall)
It's Sunday. It's football season. I'm tired. (Pronounce that: "TIE-Erd". For emphasis)

Last week, all week, I was here:
bridge
(Well, technically, I was here specifically just the one evening, but I was in the represented city all week)

Tomorrow I have to go back there, which was unexpected and not entirely what I wanted to do, but it's out of my hands. Luckily it looks like this
water

And this:
sunset at english bay 2
so it's not entirely a hardship.

(It should be noted that the place where I will ACTUALLY be is not actually right there. It's inland from there. But it's much closer to there than I am where I live normally)

I want to live here:
tree house

I worked on this:
dollar and a half

I got to the top of one of the sleeve caps and this is how much yarn I had left
d'oh
(I had a brief moment of panic when I couldn't find the other ball of this yarn that i had brought with me.)(whew)

I came home to warm weather (apparently I missed out on the days of cool temps and frost warnings. darnit), trees turning colors and my "harvest" looking festive and autumn-y
fall 2
(they are not nearly as large as they appear in this picture... sigh)

I need to finish up the turn around on my packing, figure out again which knitting projects to take with me, confirm my flight and print a boarding pass (Thank you West Jet!) and try to get some sleep. I really do love to travel, but I'm definately not made for work-travel. If I am going to travel to a beautiful location I don't want to spend the bulk of my days in an office!

Sigh.

Mom Update:
After a rough first week of side effects from the chemo, Mom has started to really feel better. Her breathing is already improving, which is such an answer to prayer. She says that she hasn't had to be on the oxygen much at all in the last week and a half, compared to almost constantly prior to the first treatment. She has more energy and has just been feeling so much better all around (side effects aside) than she had been before the first treatment. She goes for the 2nd chemo treatment and an appointment with her Oncologist tomorrow (Monday Sept. 17) morning, so I imagine she will have some of the same side effects over the next week. It's just so reassuring to talk to her and hear her be "chipper" on the phone, after the discouraging down-slide in her breathing.

Thanks again for your prayers and notes of encouragement.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Where did the time go?

Hey! It's September!!!???!!!

Um, yeah. It's September. I've been meaning to post for a week now... not sure where that time went...

First, the wordy update:

Mom's first chemo went relatively well. The chemo nurse was so kind and thoughtful, and answered all of our questions. Mom didn't have a reaction to the chemo drugs at the time of infusion, which had been a concern, so that was good. Her first few days after treatment were relatively side-effect free, which was a blessing, as the day of the treatment had been so very tiring. Mom ended up needing an ultrasound for some swelling but they weren't able to fit us in at the hospital where she receives treatment so we had to go to another hospital in the city for that. In all, it was better than expected, but still a very long and tiring day.

She's been having more side-effects lately, but has started to notice a slight easing in the difficulties with breathing. While I was home we got her set up with Home Care so that she will receive regular visits from a nurse and Meals on Wheels a couple of times a week. It's hard to hear that she is going through these side effects, but I'm glad to know that she is being looked after.

Mom loved the cushion cover, which I knew she would. We put some Kleenex in one pocket, and a pack of Halls (throat drops) in the other. Then we both kind of looked at each other and laughed. My dad always had Kleenex in one pocket and Halls in the other!

While I was at Mom's I had 4 responses about jobs, two through direct applications and 2 through employment agencies. Initially I had planned to "play it by ear" regarding how long I would stay at Mom's, but with all the calls I decided to return to Calgary on Wednesday, August 29. Thursday I had 2 interviews, and, surprisingly, 2 job offers! I have such a hard time with decision making, especially when the choices are very equal, or when the choice has long term or serious consequences attached. (well, to be honest, I have a hard time making choices about anything, consequences or not... you do NOT want to go shopping with me if I need to buy something specific).

Friday morning I heard from both employment agencies several times, wanting to know what they could do to assist in my decision making process. In the end, I chose to go with the job that will make the best use of my experience, has the most potential for future employment/advancement, and, to be frank, they offered me more money in the end (i'm such a capitalist!! haha) I start on September 10, so this week I am on "holiday". I had wanted to go back and spend more time with Mom, but I'm getting a cold and I really don't want to expose Mom unnecessarily. The company is flying me out to Vancouver for training for a couple of weeks. I've never had to travel for work before, so it's kind of interesting. I'm always a bit nervous meeting new people, so this will be a whole lot of newness at once. I haven't been in Vancouver since the early 90s. Anyone have any suggestions for sites to see on weekday evenings?

Now, to the crafting updates (it's a crafting blog afterall) (Hopefully I didn't lose everyone with all the talkiness)

1. Wide scarf/narrow stole for my mom:
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Pattern: Border from "Scarf with the striped border" from Victorian Lace Today and the center portion from "Large Rectangle with center diamond pattern" from VLT.
Yarn: Jaeger Trinity (40% Silk, 35% Cotton, 25% Polyamide) in a blush pink
The scarf didn't block out as wide as I had been hoping for, but Mom liked it anyway. She had seen me working on it and I just didn't really say anything about it, so she didn't know it was for her. I wanted to make her something lightweight to give her a little warmth if she got chilly while at treatments. It's just wide enough to wrap around her shoulders or on her lap but narrow enough that she can wear it as a scarf.

2. (not very) Beaded Cami
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Pattern: Beaded Cami from Black Dog Designs
Yarn: Patons Grace in Azure
Mods: I knit it in the round and grafted the top and bottom together. It's a bit wonky at the grafting line (oops) but overall I'm glad I did it that way. I also did a wider strap so that I could wear it w/out a tank underneath. I probably won't, but I could if I wanted to...

3. FINALLY: My niece's blanket!!
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I used the tutorial for the Mock Cathedral Windows quilt at Sunshine's Creations.

I seem to have established a habit of making my projects more difficult than is necessary. This blanket is a case in point. Initially it was 7 blocks by 8 blocks (37" x 43") which seemed a bit too small. So, I added another round (34 more blocks) which brings the size to 49" x 54" (approx). Then, Mom said my sister was really hoping to find "a good heavy blanket" for Preslee for the winter. So, I decided to go ahead and back the blanket with fleece. I thought this would help reinforce the seams as well, since my sewing wasn't as straight and even as it should have been.
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I picked up a walking foot for my machine and I have to say: I LOVE my walking foot!! YAY walking foot!!

ehem.

Finally, as a word of caution to any other crafters out there who may be working on quilts and who may be a little, er, carefree with measurements:
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I measured my quilt. I made sure (or so I thought) that I would have at least 6" extra binding. Apparently I was wrong.
My solution?
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whew.

So, if you're still with me, thank you. I need to go figure out what the airline restrictions are regarding knitting needles, and figure out what knitting to bring for my week in Vancouver. Anyone flown WestJet and knit on their flight? Suggestions for tourist attractions, sights to see?