October Socks: Longjohn Socks

Longjohn Socks

‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin-related, including, it turns out, socks! And since there’s only so much pumpkin a girl can eat, I’m happy to indulge my October-induced need for all things orange through knitting.

And don’t these socks just scream autumn leaves and pumpkin spice and crisp days? The colourway is called The Great Pumpkin and it’s basically everything I need in a pair of socks this month. Because I haven’t yet found another sock yarn I love as much as this, I once again cast on with Victory Sock from Knitted Wit.

Longjohn Socks

While the colour changes in this yarn are short and variable, I still like to avoid pooling whenever possible, so I used the Longjohn Sock pattern from Knitspot. These socks feature a great stitch pattern for breaking up colours without being fussy or difficult to memorize.

And they were fast! There’s something about a four-round repeat that makes me want to keep knitting, just so I can try to squeeze in another repeat done before turning to other things. Like dinner. Or laundry. Either of those can wait for a few more rounds.

Longjohn Socks

And thanks to those extra repeats I was able to sneak in, my socks-of-the-month are finished with 12 days to spare. Brilliant! This gives me a little extra time to work on the myriad other works-in-progress I’ve got tucked in project bags throughout the house before I dedicate myself to all the Christmas knitting come November.

Quynn: Leah’s Favourite Winter Hat


One of these days I’m going to knit Leah a hat from a pattern that I haven’t knit before (I’ve got my eye on some of the offerings from Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids) — but that day is not today. When given the choice for this winter’s hat, she immediately gravitated toward Quynn. You know, the same hat that I’ve knit for the last three winters.

What can I say? The girl knows what she likes. And she does have pretty specific requirements that Quynn fulfills perfectly:

  1. Covers her forehead and ears without bunching up at the back of her neck or falling over her eyes;
  2. Stays in place while she’s playing; and
  3. Meets her definition of aesthetically pleasing.

No small order but this hat fits the bill. I love this colourway from Knitted Wit — I think it’s called Hydrangea and the slight tonal variations dreamy. Purple was Leah’s choice this year; she’s starting to edge ever-so-slightly toward more stereotypical “girl” colours. And while I am happy to knit up just about any colour hat, I can’t say I’m not pleased to be working with this stunning purple on delightfully squishy yarn (Worsted Super Wash Merino).


This pixie-style hat is just the cutest — and I kind of wish that I could pull this off. Instead, I’ll just have to settle for knitting this pattern each year for Leah until she tires of it. I’m good with that.

The Winter Knitting Begins

Go-To Watch Cap

It’s that time of year again when the kids put in their requests for new winter accessories: we browse through patterns on Ravelry and I consult Lorajean (from Knitted Wit) on the perfect yarn bases and colours to order. Granted, it seems like a bit of a process for hats and cowls and mittens, but each year the kids are thrilled and I’m glad to have invested my time in items they’ll actually wear.

This winter, Adam’s yarn is Black Magic on Superwash Aran. I seriously love this colour. It’s rich and saturated and looks great with his black coat. Adam tried to talk me into black accessories but the thought of knitting with black yarn makes me a little crazy so we compromised on the burgundy.

This year’s hat pattern is the Go-To Watch Cap — and I think it definitely has potential to be one of those knit-every-year patterns. The hat features a double-layered brim, which neatly solves one of Adam’s frustrations with most hats: the brim slips down while he’s wearing the hat and doesn’t keep his ears sufficiently warm.

I’m glad I followed the helpful advice posted by another knitter on Ravelry that suggested increasing the length of the hat before beginning the decreases. If I’d knit to the pattern specifications it definitely would have been too short for Adam.

As it’s knit, though, this hat is just about perfect. Now it’s time to knit a cowl in the same colour before I cast on for Leah’s things. And this year I have lofty goals of knitting a hat/cowl/mitten set for myself. Knitted Wit is offering this incredible Story Teller kit (with a portion of proceeds directed to two very worthy charities: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization and Support The Girls) and I’m keen for my package to arrive so I have a hope of getting my stuff knit before winter weather hits.

Of course, there’s also Christmas knitting to start… but I haven’t even begun to plan that yet. I’ve got plenty of time, right?

September Socks: Sparkles and Stripes

Sparkles and Stripes

Technically, I did manage to finish these socks in September, though just barely, as I was still weaving in numerous ends on Friday afternoon. I’m so glad to have this pair finished, as they are ridiculously comfortable and the little bit of sparkle makes me smile every time I look at them.

The yarn is Oscar Self Striping Sock from Canon Hand Dyes in the Mr. Wonka colourway — it was part of a fantastic club featuring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-inspired yarn. Even better, the self-striping skeins were paired with a quarter-skein of coordinating yarn for solid toes and heels. I’m not usually drawn to sparkly yarn but several skeins have snuck into my stash lately.

I can’t get over the talent that Amy has for getting the stripes to match perfectly between the two socks. Seriously, even machine-dyed self-striping yarn can’t compete. Amy’s technique is that good. 

Sparkles and Stripes

I spent ages looking for a good heel that would both fit well and make use of the coordinating yarn. After a few false starts, I ended up going back to Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel, which I’ve knit a few times before. I have a love/hate relationship with this particular heel: it fits great and looks good with the stripes, but I find it incredibly fiddly to knit. Ugh. Between separating my socks onto separate needles and then having to rearrange the stitches on the needles, it’s a pain and I’m cranky by the time I actually start knitting the wedges that make up the heel.

However, I’ll be the first to admit that — despite the fiddliness — this was the right choice and I love the way they look and how they fit. Cat’s ingenious heel pattern eliminates all the issues of traditional short-row heels (most noticeably the fact that they make it nearly impossible to put on the socks if you have a high instep) and the pattern is easy to tweak to make your socks fit perfectly.

Sparkles and Stripes

Thankfully, this time I made detailed notes on my final heels so I’ll be able to replicate them the next time I knit striped socks without having to work through the math again. And since I have stashed away several skeins of Amy’s yarn, I might need those notes sooner rather than later!

Life Skills 101: Applesauce and Cookies

Baked Applesauce

Hands down, my absolute favourite subject in homeschooling is what I deem life skills. It’s a bit of a catch-all subject in which I (or the kids) identify skills that are currently lacking and we put a plan in place to learn them.

For Leah, this has included things like tying shoelaces and working through some of her occupational therapy homework. In theory, we’d tackle these things anyway, but I find it helpful to set time aside to work on these skills specifically. Otherwise, it’s easy to let them slip through the cracks in favour of more traditional academics.

Right now, though, we’re working on kitchen skills. As we settle into a routine, the plan is for them to cook or bake twice a week (one recipe of their choice and one of mine). This week I picked applesauce, since it seemed seasonally appropriate. Leah picked chocolate chip cookies, because, well, cookies.

In order to make this a relatively enjoyable experience for all involved, I’ve got a two-part strategy:

  1. Only make recipes that I’ve tried before so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises; and
  2. If both Adam and Leah are in the kitchen at the same time, they need to be given completely separate tasks so they aren’t in each other’s way.

For the applesauce, this meant that we made baked applesauce, which is easy peasy and pretty foolproof. I then gave the kids their individual tasks: Leah washed the apples, Adam cut them, I helped with the coring, and Leah placed the cut halves on the baking sheets.

Half an hour later — with the house smelling like fall! — we plucked the skins from the apples and scraped the remaining flesh into a bowl. At this point, the original plan was to employ the potato masher to help even out the consistency, but the kids decided that chunky was better than smooth so we portioned out the applesauce and enjoyed a mid-morning snack.

Today the applesauce became one of the ingredients in chocolate chip cookies, practically making them a health food. Right?

Leah has helped bake cookies often enough that this afternoon I was able to let her lead while I took on the helper role, mostly assisting with fractions and anything involving the oven. Following recipes has provided a great opportunity for Leah to practise both reading and following instructions.

Interestingly, she doesn’t need any help with the quality assurance. She was quick to tell me that the batter tasted great — it just took a few tastes to confirm her initial findings.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spending time in the kitchen with both kids or on a one-on-one basis has huge benefits for all three of us. Their newfound independence encourages them to take on larger tasks (Adam makes a great Pasta Primavera!) and I can delegate some of the meal prep to them without making more work for myself.

Looking ahead, Adam and Leah have plans for learning to sew (I see beanbags in our future) and planting a garden. I can’t wait to see how their ideas shape our homeschooling adventures.

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


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.


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!