Sunday, November 25, 2012

easy boatnecks

You can't argue with a pattern that lets you make a shirt in less than an hour.

Not that I have anything to argue with. Over the last two years I've tried a couple of pattern drafting classes and read a few books, but Wendy Mullin's Sew U Home Stretch never fails. Knits are a little more forgiving to sew with of course, but her instructions are clear and the basic patterns allow for lots of customization (which she explains fully). I've used this boatneck pattern many times and I'm always happy with the result. I made these two shirts a little wide so they would be comfortable, and the fabrics are both from Fabricland in Whitby (it turns out they always have much better choices than the Fabricland here in Toronto - darn suburbs). The white and grey is especially awesome - it's an organic, two-layer cotton similar to the fabric from one of Sadie's drapey cardigans. The other is a cheap, not-as-awesome rayon but the colour is great (Sadie has a scarf and leggings from the rest).

If only I could learn to centre my tags, these shirts just might be perfect.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

snappy love

Another cardigan is finished but I have been way too lazy to block it, so this weekend I needed a quick knitting fix. I had ordered two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky from Craftsy last winter thinking it would make a more colourful hat and mitten combo. After a little debate I decided on knitting another Snappy Hat, because it lives up to its name and can be knit over the course of a day. It's a little tight though (I knit the medium size) so I just might unravel and re-knit the large this weekend (quick hats make that kind of crazy idea almost acceptable). I used 4.5mm needles for the 2x2 band and then switched to 6mm for the rest, and as a modification I think it works well. My last version rides up too much so the tighter band will help keep it in place.

On the reading front, I have finished up a couple of books over the last few weeks. David Adams Richards Mercy Among the Children however, is a tough one to review. I was thoroughly enjoying the story and the powerful need for the central characters to maintain honesty and integrity in every awful situation life threw at them, but at some point late in the novel I realized that every moment was bleak. These particular characters suffered unfair hardships and the only glimmer of redemption happened after both had died. It wasn't remotely bittersweet, it just sucked. I was left thinking that it didn't matter whether you approached life with honour or malice, your fate would be the same. Life seemed to be a relentless succession of depressing situations. I may wait a while before trying Richards' other novels.

I picked up The Family Fang next, hoping it would be lighter. In the end it was but I'm not sure I would recommend it. The story is interesting - performance artists have children and work them into their "art" which, not surprisingly, has damaging emotional effects on the children. But the tone is somewhat comical and the brother and sister are very likable characters. It's the parents, the artists, that are hard to take. I spent most of the novel being angry at them and also angry that the novel cast a negative shadow on art and what we define as art.

Lisa Moore's February was definitely my favourite. I felt a real honesty in the characters and appreciated the snapshots of life when the family was young and then when all the children had grown and moved on. Maybe I'm just looking for motherly advice, but Helen's perspective on her children was refreshing - although they had lost their father and although they may have struggled as a family financially and emotionally in the formative years, she allowed a certain amount of freedom and rebellion because she believed they would turn out in the end. She was not without her flaws, but she showed strength and love and resilience after losing her husband in an unthinkable tragedy. Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and will certainly try more of Moore's writing.

For more knitting and reading thoughts and stories, visit today's Yarnalong.

Saturday, November 03, 2012


With the temperatures dipping, we're pretty happy to have the basement closed in again. Little did I know that cinder blocks and concrete would be so exciting! Up until last week the new room under the porch was still roof-less, meaning we were living with a big gaping hole that let cold air in. This room is also where the new boiler will be housed so obviously we've been without a heating system and it's still not up and running yet. We are keeping somewhat warm with space heaters, but we're waking up to morning house temperatures of 12 degrees (55 degrees F). Brrr.

Now, I'm sure these two photos are incredibly boring but I can't help it. That concrete floor is almost 3 feet lower than our old basement! We can see where the walls will be! I want to sneak down there all the time just to stand and imagine the final space (and sneaking is hard, it involves climbing down ladders through windows and getting very dirty in the process). The two photos are from either end of the space but they show the one compromise we had to make: raising the floor of the bathroom and laundry room to deal with our problematic sewer connection. We were connected through the back of our house - very unusual - so the plumbing itself wouldn't allow for an 8' ceiling. These two rooms, and the landing outside, will have a 7'2 ceiling. But I kind of like the look of the raised step even in this rough state.

We're still weeks and weeks away from a finished space, but it's so satisfying to see it coming along. And of course we're breathing the biggest sigh of relief knowing that the underpinning is over and the house never fell down.