Daybreak: Super Slow Knitting

Daybreak

There’s something about the hot, hazy days of summer that slows my knitting speed considerably. So while I have oodles more time to knit, I don’t get nearly as much accomplished as I would have expected.

Take, for example, this Daybreak shawl. Two luscious skeins of Victory Fine from Knitted Wit (in Murdered Mermaid and Carbon), just begging to be turned into something fantastic, should have practically knit themselves. Instead, it took me two months of playground visits and evenings at Starbucks to finally finish.

Daybreak

But, oh! Was the slow knitting ever worth it! I added four extra pairs of stripes to the largest shawl size in an attempt to make the most of the yarn — and ended up with just enough of the grey to bind off the border. The shawl is pretty massive, measuring nearly two metres across; it will be perfect to wrap around myself come autumn.

I’m fairly sure Murdered Mermaid is my new favourite colourway — in fact, I have a few more skeins of it headed my way from Knitted Wit. This is probably a good thing, because I may have to share this Daybreak with Leah. (This is the price I pay for asking her to model the shawl — sometimes she’s loath to return the item.)

Hopefully Leah and I can work out a sharing schedule before the cooler weather hits!

Turning (It Up to) Eleven

Adam Turns Eleven

Determined to maximize the opportunity for birthday festivities, Adam woke up this morning before four o’clock. I’m fairly certain that if he had his way, he would be awake for the full 24 hours, but — thankfully — common sense mostly prevailed.

After a few years of parties with friends, Adam opted for a low-key celebration to mark his eleventh birthday. Between a new video game to play, money burning a hole in his pocket, and cake to devour, he’s got a pretty good thing happening here.

Adam Turns Eleven

This has been an exciting year with Adam; he’s such a fun, creative guy to be around — and his intensity gives even mundane tasks a sense of urgency that makes just about everything feel big and important. He’s entered that stage that vacillates between kid and teen — and I never know which Adam is going to wake up each morning (though I have a strong suspicion that the one that likes to sleep in till 10 o’clock is definitely leaning more towards teen).

So as he celebrates 11 rotations around the sun, here are a few of his current favourites.

Favourite Colour: Black (no surprise there)

Favourite Breakfast: Crêpes with strawberry sauce (this may have been a massive hint that crêpes need to make an appearance soon — we haven’t had them in ages)

Favourite Meal: Homemade pizza grilled on the barbecue (it just so happens that is what we’ll be eating for dinner tonight)

Favourite Dessert: Bubbie’s Chubby Tuxedo Cake (this is basically the cake version of an Oreo cookie — so decadent!)

Favourite Movie: The Peanuts Movie

Favourite Book Series: Harry Potter (we’re working our way through the series together)

Favourite Thing to Do with Mum: Watch Doctor Who while drinking a Frappuccino

Favourite Thing to Do with Dad: Engage in some friendly battles while playing Clash Royale

Favourite Thing to Do with Leah: Lounge around after having tricked her into cleaning my room

Favourite Place to Visit: Lotte World in Seoul (I think he might be hinting at something here)

Favourite Song: Ultimate Destruction by TMM43

Future Plans: Become a successful YouTuber

Happy Birthday to my fellow Hufflepuff. You enrich my life in countless ways and I’m so blessed to be part of your family. Eleven is going to be awesome.

And Then She Was Eight

Leah Turns Eight

For the first time since Leah could count, my newly minted eight-year-old has not spent the last couple weeks counting down the number of sleeps until her birthday.

I’d say that this is a sign of some sort of newfound maturity… but Adam is definitely counting down the days till he turns 11 years old next week so I’m not sure about that. Rather, I think that (for the first time ever) we managed to keep expectations manageable and there aren’t any big surprises, so Leah has enjoyed her day immensely.

Leah Turns Eight

Leah amazes me with how much she has changed over the past year. Her incredible sense of perseverance continues to serve her well — and it’s one of the things I most greatly admire about her. From learning to ride her bike to improving her reading skills, Leah firmly believes that as long as she practises, she will accomplish anything she wants.

Since I love observing how Leah’s tastes change from year to year, here are some of her current favourites.

Favourite Colour: Turquoise

Favourite Breakfast: Pancakes with maple syrup

Favourite Meal: Avocado and cucumber handrolls

Birthday Cupcakes

Favourite Dessert: Cupcakes (we’re obviously having cupcakes for dessert — with turquoise frosting)

Favourite Movie: Zootopia

Favourite Book: Charlotte’s Web (which we’re rereading now; this is one book I wish would miraculously get lost so I need never read it again)

Leah Turns Eight

Favourite Thing to Do with Mummy: Play house (where we switch roles and she gets to boss me around)

Favourite Thing to Do with Daddy: Build things with Lego

Favourite Thing to Do with Adam: Soak him with a water pistol

IMG_9709

Favourite Place to Visit: Grandma’s house

Favourite Song: All of the songs from Cave Quest VBS (she’s practising in advance of VBS at our church in a couple weeks)

Future Plans: Work at a sushi restaurant and be a doctor. Or maybe a police officer. Or a firefighter.

Leah Turns Eight

That’s my girl, keeping her options open. Happy Birthday to my Tricksy Pixie. I can’t wait to see what amazing things EIGHT has in store for you.

Knitting Rainbows

Old Socks

“Don’t worry, Mummy. These socks still fit perfectly. You don’t have to make me any new ones.”

Uh huh. Sure they do. Never mind the fact that you can no longer pull them over your heels.

“But if you knit me new socks, can I have rainbow ones?”

I feel only ever-so-slightly conned — Leah’s really upped her make-Mummy-feel-guilty game over the past few months. How can I resist a request for hand-knit socks, anyway? I can’t.

Thankfully, Leah-sized socks are quick to knit. After digging through my stash for rainbow yarn (Felici from Knit Picks in Rainbow), I cast on for for these late Tuesday evening. And by this morning, Leah was the proud owner of a new pair of socks, which she grabbed from me as soon as I finished weaving in the ends.

Even though it’s over 30°C here today, Leah insists on wearing them. She tells me she’s never taking them off (except to shower, because that would just be silly) and that they’re just the thing for skating over the ceramic tiles in the kitchen.

Rainbow Socks

I’m so impressed with the way the stripes match almost perfectly (I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who notices that the stripes are off by about half a round, which is fairly minimal) and the broken rib pattern made for a more enjoyable knit. At least, I prefer the ribbing. I’m not sure Leah cares very much either way.

We seem to have hit a rainbow groove here. After having ripped back my slouchy hat last week when I discovered it was more sloppy looking than slouchy, I’m reknitting the brim with eight fewer stitches. Fingers are crossed that I won’t have to start over again.

Rainbow Hat

This DK-weight yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts is completely amazing — hand-dyed gradients are nothing short of spectacular and watching rainbows form across a blue sky makes me gleeful each time I pick up my needles. Happy knits are the best kind of projects — and it’s just about impossible to be anything but happy when you’re knitting a rainbow.

Spinning: A Rediscovered Hobby

Bobbin and Fibre

When it comes to crafty endeavours, I identify as a knitter. Sure, I sew. And I enjoy cross stitching. The occasional embroidery project catches my eye. And, very rarely, there’s a quilting pattern that calls my name. But when all is said and done, knitting is my favourite hobby.

So I totally blame my friend Rochelle for luring me away from my beloved yarn so that I could make, well, yarn. Despite owning two spinning wheels, both have sat untouched for ages, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to keep curious little fingers away from the moving parts. By the time I no longer needed to worry about Leah losing a finger, my interest had faded.

Now, however, my interest has been piqued again, and — thanks to a few spinning dates with friends — I’ve discovered that while it’s not exactly like riding a bicycle, I’d remembered more about spinning than I’d forgotten. Also, it helped that I have wonderfully patient friends who reminded me about all the little details that make spinning a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Spinning on the Ladybug

The spun single on the first bobbin is pretty uneven (the second isn’t much better!) and I’m seriously doubting that the final plied yarn will be balanced — but I’m ridiculously happy with it. After all, if I wanted perfectly spun yarn, that’s what commercial options are for. Instead, I’ve rediscovered a previously enjoyed pastime that results in an increased yarn stash.

And, really, I can’t imagine anything better than more yarn. I am, after all, a knitter.

FLOTUS: A Finished Shawl

FLOTUS Shawl

It feels like forever since I’ve finished something, and since I have multiple shawls on my needles right now, I really wasn’t looking for a new project, given that I have oh-so-many in progress. Shannon Squire, however, sucked me in with her League of Busy Bs year of knitting patterns and the first release: FLOTUS.

Despite a less-than-stellar first attempt and a second misreading of the pattern that involved reknitting half the border*, I still managed to finish in less than a month. Not too shabby. And it really was a simple, straightforward sort of pattern — it takes a special kind of knitter to screw up twice. I blame the fact that multitasking is absolutely not my strong suit.

FLOTUS Shawl

Now that it’s off the needles and blocked vigorously, it’s gorgeous, if I do say so myself. I’d been hanging on to two gradient sets of Gumballs from Knitted Wit for ages, waiting for just the right project — and this was it. I love the way the grey stripes separate the individual skeins, making the transitions between the shades of teal look seamless.

Right now I’m kind of wishing I worked in a crazy cold air conditioned office that would necessitate throwing my shawl over my shoulders in a jaunty sort of fashion. The reality is that my house is currently sitting at a balmy 26 degrees, rendering this a shawl-free environment. I’ll just have to wait until autumn for this one.

* This is where I admit that my friends were impressed to learn that I actually ripped back and reknit the border, rather than chucking the entire project, needles and all, into the nearest trash can. The idea did cross my mind. Actually, who am I kidding? I was totally going to throw it out — the only thing that stopped me is that I’m trying to set a better example for Adam, who also would have pitched the whole thing without a second thought. I’m making progress, albeit slowly.

Transition to Summer

Love

Even after seven years, making the transition from the crazy pace of school and flurry of end-of-the-year activities to the comparatively lazy days of summer is a bit of a shock to the system. So for the third year now, I’ve registered Adam and Leah for a week of VBS half-day camp at the church just up the street. We’ve found it to be the perfect segue into full-blown summer vacation.

This year was no exception. Both kids love getting to hang out with neighbourhood friends for a few hours each morning — and they come home each day filled with songs and stories. And crafts. Oh, the crafts!

Leah vowed on Monday that she was never going to remove that crab headband… but eventually she realized that it was impossible to wear that and her bicycle helmet at the same time — and she really wanted to ride her bike. Thank goodness. It was going to be difficult to wash her hair otherwise.

While Leah is extremely possessive of her crafts (pretty much everything is going in her room so she can admire her work whenever she wants — she’s also abandoned her human-sized pillow for this fabric-painted fleece version), Adam is all about spreading around his artwork. The shark pillow will live on the sofa in the basement, the nail art cross will hang in the living room, and Adam told me I may use the painted tile coaster for my coffee mug. Love!

Hugs

But more than the awesomeness of the crafts, each year I find that the week of VBS brings out the absolute best in the kids. Between the songs and Bible stories and interaction with their leaders, something seems to stick with them that makes this one of the easiest weeks of the summer. They both seem just a little kinder, a little quicker to forgive, and a lot more tolerant of one another, which in turn makes for a happier home. And while some of it fades after VBS ends, each year a little more of it seems to stay with them. I couldn’t ask for a better start to our summer.

School’s Out!

School's Out

Most years we set a good pace for getting through the school year. While enthusiasm ebbs and flows, we are able to maintain a reasonable level of engagement and can push through the less-than-stellar moments.

This year, though, has been different. While Leah was mostly keen to keep up with our school schedule, Adam seemed to have used up all his energy reserves by April. Forget keeping a steady pace. It’s been more like limping — and now crawling — towards the finish line.

School's Done and So Is Adam

But today the finish line has been crossed. Thank goodness — because Adam is just done.* Completely over school. And so, there aren’t any big cheers for finishing another year — rather just a quiet sense of satisfaction (and even relief!) that there are no worksheets or group projects in the foreseeable future.

Summer Vacation, we are ready for you. We’re ready for camping and birthdays and lazy days. We’re ready for sleeping in and staying up late and spontaneous adventures.

But most of all, we’re just ready to enjoy time together as a family, checking a few things off the kids’ bucket lists (and ours, too!) and making the most of our less hectic schedules.

Here’s to a great summer!

* It probably didn’t help that Leah finished with school a few weeks ago — I’m pretty sure that made things even more unbearable. Next year I’ll plan to sync up schedules a bit better.

Knitalong, Take Two

Flotus Shawl in Progress

I don’t think I’ve ever met a craft-along that I didn’t like, at least initially. The thought of knitting or cross-stitching or sewing a particular pattern with a group of other people, all at the same time, is fun. You can compare project notes as you go, help each other pick out the perfect yarn or fabric, and generally offer support when things don’t quite go as planned.

Right now, things are definitely not going as planned. I’m taking part in Shannon Squire’s League of Busy Bs, a year-long knitting extravaganza that includes easy-to-follow patterns that are perfect for picking up and putting down a dozen times a day. Basically, these are the ideal patterns for me right now to work on during daily trips to the playground or sneaking in a few rows between whatever adventures Leah has planned.

The first pattern is FLOTUS, which my West Wing-loving self immediately wanted to start knitting. (And, truly, this shawl is about as close to American politics as I want to get right now!) Lucky for me, I had two gradient sets of yarn in my stash (Gumballs from Knitted Wit), both of which were perfect for this project. I settled on the Hyacinth set and paired the six minis with a skein of Sterling. Beautiful.

Hyacinth Gradient Set

And then I started to wind my yarn. The fifth mini was cut in multiple places, giving me six small pieces of yarn, none of which was more than 10 metres. Ugh. (I can’t figure out what happened — my best guess is that I was overzealous when opening the package and snipped the skein.) The thought of all those joins made me cringe but I decided to power on.

Except it turns out that this super-easy pattern was too much for my brain yesterday. I’ve somehow managed to mess up the first grey stripe — and I don’t know what came over me but I decided to be a good knitter and weave in my ends as I knit, so trying to rip back the individual sections and reknit them is a bit more than I can manage at the moment. After all, this is supposed to a low-key, low-stress kind of project.

So I’m opting for Plan B and starting over with the second gradient set. Enter Buckle My Shoes — in all its teal loveliness. One could actually argue this is more my colour anyway.

Buckle My Shoes Gradient Set

Thankfully there’s no real end date for this knitalong, which means I feel no pressure to get caught up particularly quickly. This time around I’m going to read the pattern a little more carefully and enjoy the colour changes as they happen, no matter how many playground visits it takes to knit.

Must Knit Socks

Vinings Socks in Progress

Two weeks. Apparently that’s how long I could last before I needed to cast on for a pair of socks. Who knew? I really thought that I was over socks for the moment and that the myriad other in-progress projects (including — but not limited to — a hat, a scarf, two shawls, a blanket, and a sweater) would be enough to keep me occupied. Alas, it seems that my knitting bag feels empty without a pair of socks on my needles.

And do you know what else is feeling kind of empty these days? The house. Without Leah here, it’s strangely quiet and I really miss her. Thankfully, she was kind enough to leave these hand tracings for me so that I could give her daily high fives.

Leah's Hands

So sweet, right? I was touched and thought I would return the gesture, painstakingly tracing my own hands for her to take on vacation. No. Leah was absolutely horrified with the idea, shoving the cardstock in between some books and vowing never to look at it again. She basically thought this was the worst thing I’d done in recent history. Okay, then. On the positive side, I’m pretty certain that Leah isn’t homesick. She’s an out of sight, out of mind kind of girl.

While Leah’s away, I am getting a little vacation as well while Adam’s at school. One that’s mostly filled with knitting, reading, and the occasional chore that I’ve been putting off until I had a quiet house to myself.

Daybreak in Progress

Chores aren’t terribly exciting, though, so I’ve mostly been knitting. Ever since I knit Adam his Man Shawl last year, I’ve had plans to knit a Daybreak for myself — I was just waiting for the perfect yarn. These two skeins of Victory Fine from Knitted Wit arrived a couple weeks ago and I immediately knew that while they were beautiful individually, they’d be even more incredible together. So far, I seem to be right. I’ve had to drop down a couple needle sizes to get a slightly less drapey fabric — which means I’m going to have to knit several more pairs of stripes to get the size I want.

Fingers are crossed that I’ll have enough yarn to make it all work as I envision. If not, there’s always a backup plan.