Saturday, December 31, 2011


I like to make jackets and cardigans. They're useful in my wardrobe, more slimming (and lengthening) than pullovers, and can be tossed off at a moment's notice if I suddenly get too hot (that seems to happen a lot these days). Because I make a lot of jackets and cardigans, I'm always on the lookout for terrific buttons. I don't wait until I need them; when I see ones that catch my eye, I buy a bunch of them. You never know how many you'll need, but unless they're very pricey or the sort you'd only want one to three of, I like to buy somewhere between nine and a dozen. There are lots of great places to find buttons. Yarn shops, of course, although I'm not fond of the glass and ceramic buttons you often find there due to their weight. Good fabric shops, the kind that specialize in high quality materials, like this one, are another place. Sheep and wool festivals are my favourite source. That's where you can find all sorts of unique and special stuff perfectly geared to handknits.
However, there's another place to find great buttons--off-the-rack clothing, used and/or new. When we lived in DC, I used to shop at J.Jill. I haven't been to a J.Jill shop since moving back to Canada. Mail order isn't an option. Anyone in Canada who's ever mail-ordered from the U.S. knows that the after-taxes-and-duties prices of U.S. goods once they arrive at your doorstep can be almost double the original price. J.Jill has also since been bought out by Talbot's and I've noticed from the online catalogue that its once unique look has been miserably watered down. I still own some nice pieces from the good old J.Jill. One of the things that attracted me to them was their high-quality beautiful metal buttons. This favourite jean jacket is an example.

 Soon, you'll be seeing these buttons in a whole new context. Something much dressier...

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Boxing Day Photoshoot

Today I took advantage of the fact that Megan, a neighbour, was home from university for Xmas break. I had her don the Sydenham jacket, and we ventured into the neighbourhood for a few photos. Here's how they turned out.

 As you can see, we've had a green Xmas, but I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Working Out the Kinks

I've been working on a project with a luxury yarn at a fairly fine gauge and a couple of days ago I decided that I needed to make a change several inches back in the work. It wasn't an error so much as a design tweak. I needed to frog quite a few inches and re-knit a chunk of work, and I wanted to re-use the precious yarn. So, I bit the figurative bullet and did the unravelling. The only problem--the knitted work had been blocked. As I've blogged about before, I usually block work in progress to check on length and fit. So, the unraveled yarn was well and truly kinked.

What to do? I wound the unraveled yarn back into a skein using my swift, tying it loosely in a few places to keep it all together, then soaked (not agitated!) it in my washer and spun it dry. I hung it over a chair back to dry until it looked like this.

Much better. I'm going to re-wind the yarn into a ball and then I'll be ready to go. Of course, none of this would have been possible with a fibre like mohair, but with the blend of animal fibres I'm working with, it was not only possible, but well worth the effort.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Standing Offer

Spent Sunday making a scarf, Orange Flower's Age of Brass and Steam. The yarn is Fleece Artist's Woolie Silk 3-ply in "Raven". I blocked it last night and it's dry this morning.

With winter almost upon us, the skating rink in front of City Hall has opened and I took a few photos of it while out doing a little shopping on Saturday.

See the mother and child on the edge of  the rink? For those of you not into Canadian outdoor skating culture, the child is using a little frame that slides along the ice (the equivalent of a senior's walker) to help with balance as she learns to skate.
The market was open next to the ice, selling apple cider,

and Xmas trees.

I hope these photos (and others on this blog) might entice one of my readers to think about the possibility of doing a house exchange with us next summer. We've done exchanges before, and they're a fantastic way to travel. Not only are they inexpensive (basically, they eliminate the accommodation costs of travel), but you get to step into the shoes of another household. Kingston, ON is at the junction of the St. Lawrence with Lake Ontario, about halfway between Montreal and Toronto and right on the Via Rail line. We live in the historic section of town within walking distance of shops and restaurants, as well as the lake. Here's a link if you'd like more info. If you're interested in pursuing this, just send me an e-mail at

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Guilt-Free Christmas Baking

Sometimes you want the fun of Christmas baking without the temptation of the delicious sweet goodies. So, here's a reprise of last year's recipe for baked ornaments.  
                              4 c. flour
                              1 c. salt
                              1 1/2 c water
Roll the dough out, cut with cookie cutters, poke holes with a knitting needle (of course), and bake for about an hour in a 350 degree oven (or until golden). When they're cool, paint with acrylic paint and glitter glue.
This is fun to do with little kids, if you're feeling patient. Best done on a snowy day with logs burning in the fireplace!

Speaking of snow, we've had a dusting, as if icing sugar sifted down onto us overnight.

And in an effort to give myself some sense of control at this hectic time of year, I found a new container for my straight needles, even though I hardly ever use them.