The arrival of Ingrid

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2006

First of all I have to say, congratulations to Stephanie of Yarn Harlot! I was really getting worried about her because it sounded impossible for her to finish her Olympic knitting and I knew she would feel awful about it if she didn't. That sweater is so beyond anything I'd attempt myself! I mean, plackets? steeks?? And here I was thinking I'd gone the extra mile with the woodworking. It goes to show, she really did choose a real challenge and deserves the medal.

In other news, as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I had a very cheering package arrive this morning. I've been feeling a bit under the weather for the past couple of days so it was perfect timing for the arrival of the delightful Ingrid! Here she is sitting on my couch (which is currently covered with a recent thrift acquisition - a cheerful yellow (I can't remember what you call this tufty fabric) blanket).And as you may notice, she even came with a little bundle of fabric tied with a little brown velvet ribbon. Did I mention even the tissue paper she was wrapped in was beautiful?And they're such pretty fabrics, the picture doesn't do them justice. At first I was thinking, "oh these are just too pretty to use" then I remembered how in fairytales babies are sometimes left in baskets on doorsteps with a few extras tucked in. I chatted about this with Bradley this morning, and he agreed that the baby always came with a blanket, and sometimes a broken locket so it could be matched up with the other half later in life (consider Oliver Twist, and Little Orphan Annie). So obviously this fabric belongs to Ingrid, and it's up to me to look after it for her. I'm still deciding, but my initial thoughts are as follows:

1. pink floral: little tote for her to carry her things around in/extra apron
2. stripy flannel-like fabric (sorry I don't really know my fabric names): pajama pants
3. brown polka dot cotton: dressier handbag for fancy occasions and/or skirt
4. blue wool felt: shoes?

Thank you so much for the lovely package, Stephanie! I'm delighted with Ingrid and you can be sure she has a happy home here with us.


The Knitting Olympics - closing ceremonies!

>> Sunday, February 26, 2006

Here are Bradley's Knitting Olympics mittens - they're finally done! I love them and they fit me perfectly. They're going to be just right for spring (which seems to come and go every week these days). The fabric in the background is from a dress I bought at Goodwill for $4.99 - so that I could use the fabric. It's a Japanese-inspired print in all my favourite colours. I'm probably going to make a bag with it.

I've also finally lined my Knitting Olympics purple retro knitting bag with a fabric I found at the last minute. It's a new shop I discovered in the east end, near Victoria Park, called The Quilter's Garden. They have a general selection of quilting fabrics, and some 30s reproduction fabrics. I chose a bluish purple floral, but didn't like it so much when I got home, so I used another 30s reproduction fat quarter I had bought. I didn't quite have enough and used another fabric for the side panels. I can cover that later though by adding some pockets in the 30s fabric. Generally I'm very happy with it and thank you everyone for the nice comments. I didn't want to bore anyone with yet another picture of it, but I thought I should show it now that it's really finally actually done. I've decided to leave the sides open, not stitched together at the top.Here's a detail, I really love this fabric:
Pictured below are the other fabrics I bought at the shop. Most of the reproduction fabrics are $13-16 per yard so they're not cheap but good if you want something right away, and you can see them in person. Otherwise I think ordering online is much cheaper - and more selection. I bought the two green fabrics at the bottom of the pile for the Green Color-iffic swap-o-rama, I'm going to sew something from them to go in the package I'm sending. The one at the bottom is very cute, it has some little scottie dogs on it.
This is the other little thing I made for the Green swap, it's a coin purse with a front flap decorated with an appliqued bird and a snap closure. The recipient for this Green-themed package is still a secret - I hope she likes it!


Knitting Olympics - almost done!

>> Friday, February 24, 2006

Well I didn't really expect woodworking to become part of my Olympics Knitting project, but it seems this is the case. I've now sanded, stained three times, and varnished the handles. I needed to lightly sand and varnish again today. It has a slight varnish smell which I don't care for but hopefully that will quickly fade. I'm also wondering how long it will take before the handles feel nice and smooth and not like they've been varnished the day before.

I haven't attached the flaps at the top yet, I just folded one flap quickly through one of the slots to show how it will work. The sides get sewn too so that they are tucked in. But I'm not sure I like it because then the bag doesn't open up as much. So I have to think about that and also how I will line it. I was planning to maybe use the fabric I keep photographing it on, but I was hoping to find something I like better in the meantime. I kept picturing more purple, such as a purple floral pattern on a purple background. In any case, I'm very happy with how it turned out, I didn't really worry too much about the gauge, but somehow it turned out exactly right, even including the size of the wooden handles and slot inside them (I guess those are a standard size).

Thanks to the retroknits person who posted the pattern but isn't there anymore for the beautiful pattern, and thanks to Yarn Harlot for the great Knitting Olympics idea!


Feeling green today

>> Thursday, February 23, 2006

I just made the cosy on the right for my friend's birthday. She had seen my bird cosy (on the left) that I had bought and she thought it was really cute. So I decided to make her something similar. Mine was bought at an adorable little Japanese store (I wish I could remember the name) just west of the Japanese Paper place on Queen West. It's a baby goods store, but also has cute things for anybody. I also bought a little set of wooden letter stamps there.

I rode my bike up to see her, it's 45 minutes to her office, I used to do it every day when I worked there too as a graphic designer. It was really nice to be riding my bike. This time of year I don't really consider it much, but there's really no reason not to because there hasn't been much snow, and today was 5 degrees. I pretended it was spring...The green cosy idea came about because I've been working on my swap package for the Color-iffic swap-o-rama. It's a Flickr group, anyone can sign up and you send your secret partner a package and receive one from someone else. I did the Red Pink swap, and now it's the Green swap. Your package should include one handmade thing. I think most of the people who participate like crafts, so most people include things like beads, ribbon, yarn etc. It's fun to go to your partner's Flickr photos page and see what kinds of things they like. This cosy is my first handmade thing - I'm still working on the package.


Ribbon belt

>> Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I saw someone wearing a nice ribbon belt the other day and decided to make one. I thought I might as well show how to do it too, because it's so easy anyone can do it but maybe they just don't know how. Although it's possible that either you know how to sew and you're thinking "um, duh, I think I could figure that out" or you never sew and you're thinking "as if, I don't think I'll be doing that any time soon." Hopefully there will be someone in the middle who will say "cool! I'd like to do that and now I know exactly how!" See what I go through when I blog? It's amazing I write anything at all with all my worrying about what people will think. (This is why I'm always so appreciative of the nice comments and emails I get.)

The picture above shows the ingredients, things you just might have lying around. If not, the metal rings are called d-rings, and they sell them at button/notion/sewing stores. Some of them have a little gap in the middle, but these ones don't and I think they're a bit nicer but harder to find. I found them in the Trimcité store in Montréal. (Incidentally my friend just mentioned to me that he had never associated Montréal with so many crafts stores before. I might mention that you have to make some effort to find them, I didn't mean to suggest that Montréal was some kind of yarn and button wonderland).

Step 1: Wrap the ribbon through both d-rings and pin it down with the end folded under (so that it doesn't get frayed). Sew this in place. I sewed it by hand using a running stitch, then back over filling in the gaps. This way it looks like machine sewing (the same on both sides) and it's secure.
Step 2: Hem the other end.
That's it! You have a cute ribbon belt. It works best if the back of the ribbon is the same as the front, or if the back looks nice too since it will show.
In other crafts news, I sanded (briefly) the handles for the purple retro knitting bag, and added the first coat of stain. It has some obvious flaws but I wanted it to still look vintage so I'm happy with it so far.
And last but not least, I am the proud new owner of one of Stephanie's (little birds) beautiful kittys! Stephanie's etsy shop was filled up yesterday but is emptying out really quickly. My kitty's name is Ingrid and I can't wait until she arrives!


Knitting Olympics and lucky me

>> Monday, February 20, 2006

Things are going well with the Knitting Olympics, this is the progress so far on the purple retro bag. I bought a stain and varnish for the handles, and sandpaper and tack cloth. It really adds up just to treat this little bit of wood. Too bad I don't have a workshop for that sort of thing. I considered approaching my dad with the project, but I kind of wanted to do it myself, as part of the challenge aspect and all that. I did consider painting with acrylic paint but I thought I might be disappointed with the flatness. If I don't like the stain I'll go over it with black paint before I varnish. The main thing is that I think the light pine colour doesn't really go with the purple, plus it's not in very good shape, with patchy unfinished areas.

Bradley's Olympic mittens are going really well. I can't wait to wear them! I know I keep saying it, but you don't know just how nice they are, they're made with a lovely soft light Wool Gatto, and the colours!!
Here's a detail. It's hard to get the colours in the picture just right, the dark stripe is actually a dark burgundy.

And along the hopefully not too annoying "I'm so lucky" vein, look at the glorious package Manda sent to me! She was sorting out her fabric supplies and offered to send fabric packages to commenters on her blog. Naturally I piped up and look at what she sent! So much more than I expected, wrapped beautifully in a soft dark blue floral pouch she made, and with little extras, zippers in my favourite colours and beautiful buttons. I was so pleased with this package I can't tell you, it was an emotional moment.Here is a detail of my favourite ones. How lovely are these?? My favourite patterns are of flowers, plants, leaves and things like that, but even better, the one on the bottom right has birds too. Thank you so much Manda, I'm working on a little surprise for you too.


Lucky tote

>> Sunday, February 19, 2006

On Saturday we went for a trip to St. Jacob's market north of Waterloo. It's a farmer's market with lots of flea market stuff too. I made this new pink tote to take with me, it's fuschia linen fabric that I found at Goodwill, lined with the floral fabric sent by Claudia, plus vintage fabric from an apron on the front. It was hard to cut that up!

Here's a detail, the fabric is really pretty, I like the colours, the pattern and it's very soft. I also got to use one of the cute buttons I found in Montréal:There's also a few antique shops in town, plus a quilting store. I wasn't interested in most of the fabric, but I did find some wool felt, and bought some little bundles and scraps. Plus I found these little gift pouches made from a raggedy-ann-esque cotton fabric.I'm planning to use the wool felt to make more needle books, such as the gnome one I made for Blair. Thanks for the lovely post about my package Blair, I feel so appreciated! At another shop I bought a mason jar of buttons. I sorted through them and there were lots of nice old glass ones, these were my favourites:And finally, I found some wooden handles for my knitting Olympics bag! The bag cost $8, plus I didn't like the bag part at all (maybe it looks better in the picture, really it's not very nice), so I'll have no trouble cutting the fabric part off. I think a dark wood would look better with the purple yarn, so I thinking of staining the wood darker, or possibly painting it black with a glossy finish. Not sure about that. I'm not very experienced at working with wood doing paint or stains.The Knitting Olympics are going well, Bradley has finished the first mitten and cast on the second. They are sooo pretty, I can't wait to wear them. They're a nice soft light mitten that will be perfect for spring. My purple retro bag is getting longer, but I won't bore you with yet another picture of it's progress!


I've heard about this "tagging" before

>> Friday, February 17, 2006

I've started making more needle books lately. I finished this one last night, the inside pages are light pink felted wool, and the lining is a pink floral fabric. The top is brown courdoroy with a snap closure and some felt applique and crewel embroidery. It may go into my etsy shop but I haven't decided yet.

I've been tagged by A Little Hut...

Four jobs I've had in my life:
first job ever: paper route
working my way through university: data manager
decided I wanted to do something creative: graphic designer
currently (my dream job): children's book illustrator

Four movies I would watch over and over:
• about a boy
• A Room with a View
• The Talented Mr. Ripley
• Harry Potter 1, 2, and 3

Four places I have lived:
one year in Edinburgh, Scotland at age 9
that's it, except for neighbourhoods in Toronto: grew up in the Beaches, several years in the Annex, currently downtown

Four TV Shows I like to watch:
• The Office (love the original)
• Curb your Enthusiasm
• To the Manor Born
• Doctor Who

Four Places I have been on vacation:
• Dorset, Weymouth, Plymouth and London, England
• Playa del Carmen, Mexico
• New York City
• Holguín, Cuba

Four Websites I visit daily:
• Flickr
• hotmail
• blogger
• fellow crafters blogs

Four of my favorite foods:
• jam roly poly and custard
• fruit in general: especially lychees and longans
• Vietnamese: cold shrimp rolls and peanut sauce
• Japanese: mixed barbecue set

Four places I would rather be right now:
• Number Seventeen, Cherry-Tree Lane
• Moominvalley
• Misselthwaite Manor
• Much Frensham, Little Alders
*The first person to email me at clairelmilne(at), explaining what these references are, will get a wee prize mailed to them by me! Clue for #4: the children also stay in BEDfordshire. It's over! Cathy Gaubert just identified all four places. Thanks everyone.*


Illustration Friday - simple

>> Thursday, February 16, 2006

These are the two pictures that go with the cat. I love doing little projects like this, it's creative but quite straightforward. I could have added a lot of details all over the place but I decided to keep it simple. These paintings are for the client's three children, she asked for these specific characters from the stories I illustrated for her previously. They are for birthday presents - but not a surprise - the children have already approved the sketches and seen the finished cat!


Knitting olympics, needle holders

>> Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The retro bag is going well now, I have to admit picking up the stitches around the bottom and starting the two different patterns was a bit tricky and I was getting really irritated with it. I felt better though that I was doing something with a bit of a challenge and I didn't pick something too easy. Also, I usually make things up as I go along which means I often just do what I know. Following a pattern forces me to pick up new skills. As always my stitch n' bitch books were an invaluable reference!

I just got my invitation to another Knizzles, our stitch n' bitch group. I was thinking last time I went that it would be handy to have needle holders in my bag, because they tend to move around and fall about. So I tried it out on the green tote before my trip to Montréal. It's so easy, all I did was sew a rectangle of fabric inside the bag, and sewed columns sized to fit a variety of needle sizes. They are a little wobbly but I did it in a rush at the last minute. I also made ties for the bag and the tiny scrap in the picture is all that's left. Yes, that's right, at the last minute while packing for our trip and getting ready, I was also frantically sewing. I would only confess this obsessive crafting behaviour to you, my understanding fellow crafters!Here are the ties:And last but not least, I've been meaning to post this package from La Ave in Australia. I bought her notebook pouch and sent some extras. This is her pouch and the goodies she sent me - so sweet! My favourite is the cherries fabric with matching ribbon and buttons. Perfect for some little project. Thanks Caylie!


Catching up with bags

>> Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I have a few loose ends to tie up regarding bags, so I decided to do it all in one post and that will be the theme. The first one is the camera case I made just before my trip to Montréal. It's quilted to protect the camera, and lined with my new dots fabric. I used a bit of the ric-rac sent by Michelle on the pocket, which holds the extra memory card and I used some striped ribbon I bought a long time ago for the strap.Here's a detail of the strap.
The outside is some pink wool that I bought a 1/2 yard of recently. Finding wool felt for crafts is difficult, or at least expensive. So I was happy to find this, it's a felted wool that you buy from the bolt and there were a few colours but not many. It costs $14/yard so it's much cheaper than buying little squares. And of course the craft felt that most stores sell is acrylic. It doesn't feel as nice plus it tends to pill if it gets any wear. An even better way to find wool to sew with is from thrifting, either wool sweaters you can felt or even better, a wool blanket such as the one Blair made her beautiful Finny and Skinny from.

The second bag topic is the green acorn bag. I had a question about it, but I couldn't reply directly because there was no email address. I was excited to get a comment from Finland - home of the Moomins! To answer your question, the bag is 9 1/2" x 9 1/2" with a 2" wide strap. The strap is 30" long above the bag. The strap is all knit, so it stretches a bit so you should make it a bit shorter than you actually want it to end up being. I don't remember which needle size but I know it was a bit smaller than the recommended size so that it would be snug.

The yarn is quite special, it's called Trend Collection Linie 82 Mistral and I think I ended up using four 50 gram balls. You could use anything though, and just make a swatch to see how many stitches you'll need. I did stockinette for the main bag, with 6 rows of garter at the top so it wouldn't curl too much. Here's a detail of the yarn:I hope this is helpful, of course if you make the bag, I'd love to see it.

The other question was about the retro knitting bag pattern. The original post seems to have disappeared and I don't like to post it since it's not my pattern. But I will scan my printout and if anyone wants to email me directly I will send it to you. As always I'd like to see it if anyone else makes it.

And finally here is the progress report for the Knitting Olympics. I've finished the bottom of the bag, picked up stitches all around and started to knit up. It was pretty difficult actually. I had to count the stitches over and over. Plus I don't have any stitch markers so I was using paperclips! And here is a peek at Bradley's Knitting Olympics mittens that he's making for me. Isn't it beautiful? I can't wait to wear them!


Back home

>> Monday, February 13, 2006

It's good to be home again, but we did have a wonderful trip. I am so lucky because Bradley was happy just to walk around in another city, he loves to travel, and I got to go to all the crafty places I've mentioned. Everything turned out so well, even funny details. For example, Bradley had originally found a B&B that was a llama farm, but it turned out it was closed in the winter. But when we dropped off at The Big Apple in Colborne on the way home, they had some llamas there! The Big Apple is an actual model of a giant apple, and they sell apple pies there. There's also some amusements, such as the llama "farm" with ducks and rabbits too. I asked if they sold llama wool, but the girl at the cashier looked at me like I was nuts. I'm glad that the llama B&B was closed because I really loved where we stayed. Here's a picture of my favourite corner of the room, it's a Victorian house, so there are appealing details like the deep windows, and the owner likes to collect things such as this nice spinning wheel. Little did I know we were staying next door to her crafts room! I didn't go in, but I caught a glimpse of a sewing machine and shelves of fabric etc. It's a good arrangement, the guest rooms are on the first floor, and the family lives upstairs, so there's privacy for everyone. We both also really enjoyed the healthy and delicious home-cooked breakfasts made by Dominique. So I recommend this B&B, it's Pierre et Dominique, 271 Square St-Louis.

Thanks to everyone for the tips on places to go - I know exactly what to see on my next trip to Montréal. Here is the info on how I acquired all the great buttons, ribbon and yarn.

Magasin de Fibre L.B. inc
La Bobineuse de Laine
2270, Mont-Royal Est

Rubans, Boutons...
4818 St-Denis

7381, rue St-Hubert


Custom yarn - knitting olympics day 1

>> Saturday, February 11, 2006

In case you're wondering, we did go for a scenic drive in the country today, and saw some forests and mountains and a bit of the small towns north of Montréal. But we did also manage to get back to the Magasin de Fibre L.B. inc., also known as La Bobineuse de Laine. I wanted to get my nerve up and actually create some custom yarn and the picture above shows what I had made for me. You choose colours in one type of fibre, ie. they don't mix cotton and wool, and there are different textures to choose from as well. I chose cotton because most of the other fibres were part acrylic and I prefer the natural fibres. I chose to blend two strands of medium pink, a strand of light pink boucle and a strand of purple boucle. Here is a close up of the result:The cost for the cotton was $10/livre, which is one pound. This is just one of the cones - the smaller one! I also bought a pretty light blue turquoise blended with a single strand of silver. And I couldn't resist a couple more of the grab bags. Ok three more. They were $1 each!! The lady in the store was very friendly and helpful, I showed her a yarn I had on hand and she suggested using 5 strands to create a blend of a similar thickness. I asked if I could take her picture and she said it was ok.This is another (sorry, blurry) picture of the machine used to blend the custom yarn. This store was so much fun! I'm glad I managed to fit in another trip and I was so happy with how my pound of custom yarn came out. The entire yarn spree cost $18.And finally, here is my progress on my Knitting Olympics project after the first day. This is the bottom of the bag and it's 14 inches wide. After the bottom is done, you pick up stitches and start knitting in the round. Bradley's striped mittens for me are going well - he's already used five of the colours: pink, pale pink, light olive green, red and orange. I guess he'll keep going soon, but right now he's going out for some poutine!


All buttons and no beads
a crafters trip to Montréal

>> Friday, February 10, 2006

We decided to take a small holiday and go to Montréal for a long weekend. Now that we're here it seems a little crazy because it is SO COLD. But we're still managing to have a wonderful time. The first B&B (called The Nightingale) was in Ingleside and it was a very comfortable stop before heading on to Montréal in the morning. It's in a beautiful Victorian home and we had a delicious fruit and Belgian waffle breakfast.

In Montréal we're staying in a B&B called Pierre et Dominique's and it's just great. It's in a very good location, lots to see around here and in the middle of everything. It borders on a park and there's lots of space and sun in our comfortable room.

I've had lots of fun shopping, which brings me to the alluring picture of buttons at the top of this post. Bradley noticed the store pictured below while we were wandering around, I had some idea that it was a bakery or something like that, though I did notice the ribbons waving at the top. It turns out it is the best button store ever. They have a HUGE bin filled with buttons and for $1 you can have a scoop full, but for $2 you can take your time and pick and choose and fill the same size scoop (all the buttons in the picture were $2). As you might guess I picked and choosed and was absolutely delighted with all the pretty buttons I found. They also have stacks of boxes with buttons to buy in sets, and ribbons and trim and some handmade bags. It's called Rubans, Boutons... which of course means Ribbons, buttons... The owner was very friendly and gave me a tip on a good fabric district. The ribbon on the right of this picture was from the button store, but the other two are from a store called Trimcité. This was my favourite store in the fabric district. It is similar to a ribbon store we have on Queen West in Toronto but much much cheaper. The pricing guide is very efficient, all the ribbon and trim is marked with a letter and there are charts everywhere saying the price per yard each letter corresponds to.
I've visited a couple of yarn stores, but nothing too exciting. The most interesting place is called Magasin de Fibre L.B. inc. They have big cones of yarn/cotton/wool blends and you can mix and match colours and fibres and they'll wind it together for you into a ball. It's really cheap, you buy it by the pound and most are well under $10/pound. What I found was even better, the cotton you see below is from leftovers from the cones - it's equivalent to a pearl cotton size 10 or so, and I bought all this in two grab bags for $4 (it's more than it looks like in this picture - each bag was a bread bag full). Wow!It seems like most of the stores have staff that speak French and English, but I'm finding my French is quite useful and I can understand everyone quite well. It's interesting to see how people figure out which language to use with you. So there you have it, a crafter's guide to buying crafts supplies in Montréal. If you are reading this and you live here, I'd love some tips on places to go!


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