Friday, January 24, 2014

Grow Your Blog

Hello and Welcome to my Blog!
I'm Wendy and I live in Ontario, Canada.  In this little blog I like to share a bit of what I make in the way of knitting, sewing and refinishing.  I also enjoy the outdoors and share my backyard gardening and some camping trips to northern Ontario.  Today I'll just share a few little bits in the way of photos from previous posts to show what you will find here.  I hope you enjoy your visit!

A Little Bit of Knitting ...

Knitting has become my latest creative enjoyment.  I taught myself how to knit about four years ago, and have challenged myself with new techniques with every project I start.  It's been a long haul, but I'm now at a place where I feel much more confident in the patterns I try.

Clockwise from top left:  Hermione Hearts Ron Hat, Zig Zag Cushion, Sea Scroll Scarf & Grandma's Fan Dishcloths

A Little Bit of Sewing ...
I enjoy sewing immensely, however, I've gotten away from it a bit while I've been learning how to knit.  I plan on getting back into sewing again this year, and have some new projects lined up.
Patchwork Heart Garland, Sawtooth Star Decoration

A Little Bit of Crafting ...
I used to love making crafts with my own kids and with their friends.  Although my kids are older now, every so often I think of a craft that we really enjoyed and share it with you here.
Clockwise from left:  Feather Ornament, Crystal Snowflake, Wee Folk Doll
A Little Bit of Thrifting ...
I love old things and often share some of my little treasures here.  I hope to one day set up a proper sewing room when one of my kids leaves the nest, and decorate it from my store of goodies ;)

Clockwise from top left:  Seagrass Boxes, Tin, Figurine, Sewing Machine

A Little Bit of Refinishing ...

This is something new for me.  It all started with a set of kitchen chairs which I refinished for my daughter.  Since then I was hooked, and have refinished a few other projects. 

Kitchen Chairs, Small Stool, Rocking Basket

A Little Bit of Gardening ...

I inherited many plants from my mother's garden when she passed away, and it inspired me a great deal to do more with my gardening.  With lots of encouragement from fellow bloggers, the enjoyment of it all has definitely taken hold.

 A Little Bit of Camping ...

I camp every year with my family in provincial parks in northern Ontario, and just love taking photos on these trips.  

Left to Right:  Barron Canyon, Algonquin Park
I hope you enjoyed your visit!

As a thank you to all who have stopped by today, I'm having a small giveaway of this handmade (by me) quilted patchwork heart.

If you'd like a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post only please!  Make sure you leave some way for me to contact you ... your blog link or your email address will be fine.  This giveaway is open worldwide.  You do not have to have a blog to enter and you do not have to be a follower of my blog.  I'm just happy you stopped by :)

I will draw a name for the winner on February 15, 2014. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I hope you enjoy touring other blogs participating in the Grow Your Blog event!



Thank you Vicki of 2 Bags Full for hosting the "Grow Your Blog" party that has gained popularity throughout blogland again this year.  Vicki has put a lot of work into this wonderful event, and I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Frozen Craft

Since we've been plunged back into the deep freeze again, I thought I'd share a fun, easy and quick craft idea with you.  This is great for kids of all ages, and the results are sure to please.  All you need is for it to be below freezing outside.  Today we're 23 degrees below freezing, so it's good!
I just wasn't sure what to call this, so I'll call it Ice Medal in honour of the upcoming winter Olympics ... not that it has anything to do with sports, but I think we all deserve a medal for making it through this winter!

Pretty eh!
Sparkly in the sun
A frozen medal you can hang outside (and actually only outside) in the sub-zero weather to admire through your windows.  If you want to make one (or many) for yourself, here's what you do.
  • small dish, bowl, pie plate, whatever you have that's not to big around & is smooth inside
  • bits of natural objects (acorn caps, tiny pinecones, flower heads from your frozen garden, snippets of evergreen bushes, whatever you can scrounge up)
  • a small length of string for hanging (I used twine)
  • temperatures outside below freezing :)

Close up:  I used acorn caps, zinnia flower heads, pinecones, birdseed & greenery
First, arrange your string in the bowl with both ends in the bowl. 
Try to put as much string inside the bowl as there is left hanging outside to give a good anchor. 
Ice is heavy.
I used a toy saucepan, but usually make these in margarine containers
Next, add the greenery on top of the string ... this will hold the string down. 
Now lay the pinecones, acorn caps etc. on top of the greenery.

Next, fill the bowl with water.
Everything will float, but not to worry, it'll all look good when it's frozen.
Hard to see, but this IS filled with water.
Now just carefully carry your bowl outside and set it on a flat surface
Leave it there until the water is frozen.  It could take quite a while if it's just below freezing. 
I made mine this morning and it was completely solid in an hour ... probably in half an hour, but I didn't check it right away. 
Wiggle the bowl a teeny bit like you do with the ice cube tray, and the ice will pop right out!

Voila! A masterpiece!
Hang in a prominent spot just outside your window to admire.  You might want to keep it out of direct sunshine because it could still melt on a clear day.  If you use only natural materials (as opposed to anything plastic), when the ice melts, it won't deposit garbage in your yard.
I think these would look great as a garland strung across a fence or gate, or maybe your mailbox for the postman to admire ... wouldn't you like to give the frozen postman a little smile on a cold day like this?
A great way to watch winter melt away ... sort of like the proverbial car parked on the frozen lake, when the car sinks, spring has arrived ;)
Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Knit a Block a Week 2

This week I chose Block No. 4 "Threaded Ribbons".  I was curious about the way the vertical stripes were created with the slipped stitch, so thought I'd give it a try.  Since I don't have that much left in my stash suitable for these squares, I was left with the pink/green/white variegated yarn, black, grey, gold and brown.  Hmmm ... sort of a dog's breakfast when put together, so I just went with the variegated yarn and brown. 
The slipped stitch continues for as many as four rows in places on the same stitch, which tends to curl the square a bit as you work, but not too badly when it's finished.  The slipped stitch forms a loose loop on the front of the work, which creates the nice vertical stripe which you can see in this close-up:

The sides curled towards the back, and maybe if there was one knit stitch on each end that would alleviate that problem. 
The actual knitting was quite easy, but keeping track of the row you're on was the only challenge for me, so I kept a handy little tick sheet to keep track ... I use these on the simplest of projects, so maybe that's just my own muddled brain ;)

The colours remind me of chocolate-covered peppermints!  Or maybe the stained-glass windows of a gingerbread cottage?  Whichever ... I swear I could smell mint as I knit this.  Here's the block before blocking:

With a bit of blocking:

And after blocking:
still curling top/bottom and sides :[
Once this is knit into a blanket, the curling won't show.  Again this block turned out to be 7-inches square.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hermione Hearts Ron Hat

My daughter, like many kids her age, literally grew up with the Harry Potter books.  They were her first big dive into a hefty chapter book.  The last books that I ever read to her, and the first books that she read to herself.  She absolutely loved the books and still reads them.  She's read the covers right off two of the volumes and asked for replacements, but they had to be the same hardcover editions (ie. the original publications).  I was lucky enough to find them at the thrift store for her last Christmas.  So she's happy again.

A while ago I showed her a hat I found on Ravelry called "Hermione Hearts Ron" by Christy Aylesworth (I love the way everyone copied the upside down photo that Christy first posted with her hat!).  My daughter took one look and said "Oh! I love that hat!!".  She recognized it right away from the movie, and was thrilled when I said I would knit it for her.  It took a while to get started because I didn't have the very fine wool that the pattern requested.  I had some really nice, soft alpaca/wool blend though, and finally decided to just dive in and use that.  It turned out not quite as delicate as the original pattern, but I like it.  It's just a little bit more "fuzzy & thick" than the original.

I've never blocked the few hats that I have made.  Does anyone else block their hats?  I just wonder if a bit of blocking would flatten the cables on the top of the hat a little bit.  It might be okay when it's on my daughter's head.  She has a smaller head than me, so I dare not stretch it over my big noggin!
And one thing I wanted to point out about these photos ... I took Shari's advice and turned my camera to the manual settings for these three photos.  The only alteration I made to each photo was to crop them down.  The lighting is exactly as I took it. I'm really pleased with the way they turned out  Thanks for some great advice Shari!
Now I just have to wait for my daughter to come home next weekend from university so I can take an upside down photo of her wearing this hat to put on Ravelry ;)
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Handsome Visitor

I had a handsome visitor come to my house this week.  He just flew in all breezy and silent, and didn't want anything to eat (he already caught something along the way).  And he didn't stay long ... the handsome ones never do ;)  but he allowed me to take a couple of photos to show you ... he's quite vain!  His name you ask?  Well, Cooper ...  Mr. Cooper Hawk.

This beauty lives in my neighbourhood and I see him often.  Usually when I don't have my camera close by.  He's so fast!!   Swoops past the windows and up into a tree and Poof! ... gone before you have a minute to really admire him.  These photos were taken through the window and then I touched them up a bit to see him a bit more clearly.
I just love the birds of prey.  My son saw a Great Horned Owl out in our fir tree late one night over the holidays.  He said he heard him hooting, looked out the window and saw the owl sitting in the tree.  I didn't realize these owls were in my area, but I'm so thrilled that my son saw him.  I used to see a Great Horned Owl in the woods where I grew up.  I would go down into the woods with my little Kodak Instamatic camera trying to find him, but never did get a photo of him when I had the camera with me (of course!).  But I saw him plenty.  Usually I just followed the sound of the crows cawing because they loved to harass him when he was all sleepy from a night of hunting.
This Cooper's Hawk has been in my neighbourhood for quite a few years now.  It may be a pair that I see, but I can't tell the difference between a male & female, and I've never seen two together.  At any rate, I feed the little birds with the seeds, and I guess their noisy chatter draws him in and he enjoys one of the little birds (or rabbits) for a plump meal :[  Such is life.
I'm in the flight path of a large marsh along the shores of Lake Ontario, and we see lots of migrating birds here even though we're in town.  One day sitting in the backyard with my son after school, we happened to look up and saw quite a few turkey vultures flying over.  They migrate south too.  Well we watched quite a few before I realized there were an unusual number of them, so we started counting.  We counted over 150 turkey vultures and about 20 pairs of hawks that were circling and soaring along on the air current with the vultures!!  It was a really special sighting for us, and I've never seen the likes of it before or since.  They must've had a particularly good air stream they were being carried on and were quite high up.  sigh ... so wonderful ;)
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 12, 2014


So the surprise project I've been working on has been (as many of you guessed correctly) this ...

A Dalek from the Dr. Who series ... those annoying cute little robots that fly around saying "Exterminate! ExtermiNATE!".  And despite the fact that these robots are finally destroyed forever, they always seem to crop up again somewhere down the line.  I don't believe the human race will ever be rid of them :[
This little guy, thankfully, is harmless ... unless he's going to kill you with cuteness ;)
I found the pattern here on Ravelry, and ever since I found it a couple of years ago, my son has been asking me to knit one for him.  I was intimidated by this pattern for a long time, but have gained some confidence in knitting since then, and felt I was capable of tackling it at long last.
There were a few things to learn on this.  Even casting on was something new for me with the provisional cast-on.  Then right away I had to learn how to knit the bobbles.  A quick search on google came up with all kinds of variations of bobbles.  There are instructions with the pattern too, but I wanted to see the knitting on video first.  You certainly get a lot of practice knitting the bobbles since there are 52 of them!  It took me an hour to knit one row with the bobbles in it ... 14 bobbles in a row. 
The next thing I learned was the jogless stripe.  This keeps the stripes running relatively straight around your piece, rather than having that annoying "step" up to the next row.
One thing I had real difficulty with was purling in the round on douple-pointed needles for the head.  I ended up with a "ladder" at each spot where you transfer from one needle to the next.  I don't have this trouble with the knit stitch, just the purl stitch.  I googled that problem, and although there are a lot of people with the same difficulty, and only a couple of solutions, none of the solutions worked for me.  I still ended up with a ladder.  Most annoying.  I would gladly accept any ideas anyone might have.
So after purling and ripping out the entire head three times, and trying three different methods to combat the problem, I finally gave up and knit all around the head in stockingnette stitch instead.  That's the only change I made to the body of the pattern.  Looking at everyone else's photos of this same project, it seems no one had the same trouble, so I don't know what I was doing wrong there.  I might not have worried too much about it, but the Dalek is stuffed and the stuffing would have shown through the ladders.  I think it still looks good, just not what was intended by the pattern. 
The only other change I made was to the gun blaster.  I knit that in double-strand yarn I-cord rather than making a tube.  I checked with photos of the Daleks on a Dalek webpage and felt it looked in proper proportion (and it was easier to knit).
Another technique I learned was the Kitchener Stitch on the bottom of the piece.  It was really easy to do, and there's only a 20-stitch join across the bottom, so not tedious at all.  I was actually dreading doing the bottom because I couldn't make sense of knitting this in the round and it ending up flat across rather than a tube ... but I just kept on knitting and it worked out perfectly with all the decreases.
This was a lot of work for me.  I still feel I'm in the learning process of knitting, and seeing all of these unfamiliar techniques made me fairly unsure to start it.  But I'm glad I worked through it all and made the pattern up just as it was written (apart from the head, and I really did try to correct that).  It stands exactly 12-inches high.  I used Lion Brand 100% acrylic on size 4.5 needles.
This is my son's belated Christmas gift (he only got the yarn & the pattern wrapped up), so he's happy it's finished up now too.
Go forth and exterminate little Dalek!
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Knit a Block a Week Challenge

I've joined the Knit a Block a Week Challenge hosted by Linda at Linda's Crafty Corner.  It was a hard choice to pick just one block to knit, but since I have other projects on the go at the moment, I did choose only one block. 
Block No. 94 "Toronto" of the book 200 Knitted Blocks was the finalist this week.  The name of the block jumped out at me since I live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) in Ontario.  So, of course, it was meant to be, and here is my version of the block.

I knit this with some type of acrylic, but I seem to have lost the wrapper.  It's just inexpensive stuff from Michael's craft store.  I'm still not very good with understanding different types of yarn (ie. sport weight, double knit ...), so I can only tell you that the yarn is 4-ply, and my finished block measured 7 1/2 " across, knit on size 6 US needles.  The squares are supposed to be 6" across, so I'll have to go down a size in needles to accomplish that I guess.  The garter stitch knitting in this block is quite dense, and the block is made up of 4 smaller squares which are joined together to form the "X" in the middle, all of which makes for a very sturdy block indeed. 
I like the way the square knits up because the double increase in the middle of each row pulls the row into a point and you're actually knitting a diamond shape.  When it's off the needles, it looks like you knit one way and then another, but it's just straight knitting and was really very easy to do.  The sewing up gave me more grief, but I just had to be careful that I joined the little squares on the right edge, otherwise a narrow gap formed between the blocks.
I like the colour combinations in this variegated yarn, and as I took the photos, I realized the same colours were mirrored in my little Christmas cactus.
And here's a little peek at the project that is nearing completion for my son.  I'm sure some of you will be able to guess what it is, but don't ruin the surprise for others!
I just need to buy some more yarn to complete it ... I can't wait to have it finished :)
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Sea Scroll Scarf

I finished up the scarf I was knitting for my daughter before Christmas (and I'll admit I was still working on it even after she unwrapped it!). 

It turned out beautifully, even if I do say so myself.  I love the various shades of blue in this yarn, and the scroll stitch pattern repeated across the scarf made it look like ripples & waves in water. 
Close up of the pattern ...
It was quite lumpy and irregular before I blocked it, but it all flattened out and the pattern showed up really well.  The ends sewed up well too.  I was a bit worried when I started the knitting that the rippling edge would cause problems.  I didn't get a photo of the ends sewn together, but after sewing & blocking, it made a very nice neat, straight edge.  You can see my Ravelry notes here.
Now I have a special project in the works for my son.  He was given just a ball of yarn & a pattern on Christmas Day.  I'm glad I didn't even start this project before Christmas because it's taking all my concentration to work through it.  I'm trying new things in this, and although it's a bit tedious, I'm enjoying it so far.  More on that soon ;)
I've joined up with the Knit a Block a Week Challenge over at Linda's Crafty Corner.  That's starting up this week, and everyone shows the block they've made every Friday on Linda's blog.  The blocks will all be knitted from this book:
and I'll be deciding on which block to knit today.  I think I'll make up an entire blanket (not done that before), and then I'll decide whether to donate it to a charity or keep it.  The yarn I still have in my stash isn't really suited for a blanket, so I'll have to purchase the yarn I use.  If I want to give the blanket to a charity, the yarn has to be washable.  If I keep the blanket for myself, I'd prefer wool ... although the thought of handwashing a blanket does put me off a bit. 
Our temperatures here are hopping up and down this past week.  Last night we had freezing rain and then snow.  Today is bright clear skies, but our street is covered in thick ice as is our driveway.  I spent that past hour and a half trying scrape away the top layer so that the sun can hopefully melt away the rest.  What an exhausting chore.  I hope you're all staying safe and warm where you are.
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with Ginny at Small Things

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...