Socks Fit for the Doctor

Doctor Socks

A few months ago, Adam happened to look over my shoulder as I was pawing through my secret sock yarn stash (which is completely separate from my regular sock yarn stash — it usually contains skeins that are destined to be knit into gifts or are super special skeins being saved for the perfect project) and saw my Time Traveler yarn.

These little balls of coveted squishiness were actually supposed to be knit into Christmas socks for Adam — but I figured I could easily dash off a pair of socks for him now and he’d be better equipped for camping with the Scouts this fall.

Surprise, surprise. Adam’s feet are now just about as big as mine so there’s no longer any sense of whipping up a pair. This is now a serious investment of both time and yarn (no more squeezing a pair for both Adam and Leah out of 100 grams).

The yarn is Felici from Knit Picks in the Time Traveler colourway, clearly taking its inspiration from the Doctor’s famous scarf. (This reminds me that I still have a lot left to knit on my Doctor Who scarf — I need to bring that project back into my knitting rotation.)

I love this self-striping yarn for kids’ socks; the pattern can be kept simple for mindless (if no longer exactly quick) knitting and the yarn works out to less than $15 for the pair, keeping it reasonable for socks that aren’t going to last more than a season before they’re outgrown.

Of course, knowing Adam, he’ll stretch how long he can wear these socks and will be trying to shove his feet in them long after they should be retired — that is, until he discovers that I have four more balls of this yarn tucked away!

Learning to Camp, More or Less

Learn-to-Camp Weekend

Several months ago, on a bit of a whim, I decided to register the four of us for a Learn-to-Camp Weekend, hosted by Parks Canada. While Adam and Leah were super excited, Todd was a little less enthused, but was willing to go along with whatever latest scheme I had concocted.

The beauty of the whole plan was that the camping location was less than 10 minutes from home, in the Rouge National Urban Park. We figured that if the whole camping thing didn’t work out — torrential downpours, unrelenting mosquitoes, or a general sense of discomfort with nature — it would be really easy to bail and go home.

And guess what? It rained. It actually rained so much last night that I figured the leaders would cancel the campfire and we would be able to hunker down in our tent. No such luck. And, of course, once we were there, it didn’t really seem like quitting would be an option. The kids were having too much fun.

We learned a lot: how to build a campfire, what to consider in outfitting a kitchen, and that putting Adam in charge of setting up the tent is the way to go (apparently he has learned a lot through Scouting!). Our time there was pretty well jam-packed with activities and learning opportunities — though I still managed to find time to sit and knit.

Learn-to-Camp Weekend

The key to a successful camping trip is all making sure that everyone gets a chance to do what interests him/her, right? Todd and the kids kicked around a soccer ball and played cards and I made some progress on these socks. A win-win situation, indeed.

Even though I spent a good part of the night worried that our tent was going to fill with water and/or blow over, I woke up this morning relatively refreshed. And knowing that coffee was brewing nearby only served to improve my spirits.

While I’m not sure that we feel confident to undertake a major camping trip just yet, I think Todd and I both feel some smallish, close-to-home adventures may be in our future. Adam and Leah can’t wait; they’re both excited about the prospect of adding camping into next summer’s plans. And so are we.

Learn-to-Camp Weekend

The First Day

First Day of Homeschool 2016

So this is what school looks like this year. Rather than shopping for new lunchboxes and indoor shoes this September, the kids convinced me that what they really needed were back-to-school jammies. And since we are now an all-in homeschooling family, this seemed like a pretty reasonable request.

I’m pretty sure that Pokémon pyjamas will help with learning, right? And if not, at least the kids look cute. It’s a uniform of sorts. And if anything encourages reading a good book, it’s getting to do so while lounging in the backyard.

First Day of Homeschool 2016After several months of combing through curriculum options, I feel pretty good about what we’ll be working on this year. Of course, there’s a huge gap between having everything entered in my spreadsheet and actually trying to divide my time and energy between two kids who both crave my full attention.

Today’s start was rather rocky (there’s a pretty good chance that expecting the kids to immediately dive in to literature studies and ancient history and grammar this morning may have been asking a little much) but I’m confident tomorrow will be a little smoother. And, at least in theory, over the next couple weeks we’ll settle into a rhythm that works for all of us.

First Day of Homeschool 2016

Until then, there are endless pots of coffee to help as I try to juggle the needs of two kids who couldn’t be more different if they tried — and a big enough house that everyone can go off to work in separate corners as needed.

First Day of Homeschool 2016

Or maybe just separate corners of the picnic blanket.

Vinings Socks

Vinings Socks

Back in June, I realized that two weeks was about the longest I could last without a pair of socks on my knitting needles. Apparently a life without socks in progress just doesn’t feel right.

So I cast on for a pair of Vinings socks from one of my favourite books: Indie Socks (by Chrissy Gardiner). I feel like a bit of a traitor since I did not use indie-dyed yarn, opting instead for a skein of Cascade Heritage Sock that had been lurking in the corner of my sock yarn stash for ages.

Despite the strange feeling of guilt over using a mass-produced yarn for a pattern written specifically to highlight the awesomeness of indie-dyed yarn (which I really need to get over!), I love these socks. They’ve taken ages to knit (over two months) and I enjoyed each and every stitch.

Vinings Socks

Look at that lace! Gorgeous, if I do say so myself. (And try to ignore my blindingly white legs — Adam and Leah feel terribly sorry for me that I don’t have golden skin like theirs!)

I’d forgotten how many truly lovely patterns are in Indie Socks; I need to go back and bookmark a few of them for later. Pachinko and Deux Tourbillions are definitely going on my need-to-knit list.

Vinings Socks

Knitting this pair has inspired me to restart my self-directed sock-of-the-month club. (It turns out that I really missed my self-imposed monthly deadlines.) And what perfect timing! Since September begins tomorrow, it’s the perfect time to select a skein and pattern. I’m thinking stripes…

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.