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For just over two years now I’ve told anyone who will listen that I was going to buy a new Bernina Activa as soon as I could.  Somehow over that expanse of time I failed to realize that said machine costs over a grand and doesn’t even have an automatic buttonhole function.  I convinced myself that I would never be able to afford a decent sewing machine until I called the Triangle Sewing Centre* in Guelph (Ontario) and spoke with Christa who convinced me to buy this beast:

It’s the discontinued (ergo on sale!) Elna 7200, and she is fancy.  Not as fancy as many of those crazy quilting / embroidery / make you scrambled eggs in the morning machines but way fancier than my old Kenmore, which has a new home with my friend Michelle.  It can make a little knot at the beginning of your seam and sew your name and go real fast.  Christa assures me it will last me until my fiftieth birthday.  What’s that?  Miss Elna wants you to know that she has a little friend.

This an even beastlier Kenmore serger that I bought off my aforementioned pregnant friend Krystyna.  It is loud but baby K is already used to the noise interrupting her dreams.  They make a lovely couple don’t they?

*If you’re in the area I highly recommend this little shop. If you happen to go when shop grandson / Lego expert Paul is in store he can be convinced to put a felted bowl on his head and pose for a picture and you will keel over from the cute.

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May I introduce you to my new special summer lunch:

Pleased to meet you

This has been my mid-day meal of choice for house guests and for a very special Sunday when Kate napped and we we ate it on the front step, followed by a rousing game of ladder ball.

I have also been making batches and batches of my new favourite cookie for a few months now.

It’s the chocolate oatmeal cookie (with raisins!) from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar except that my chocolate chips come from Costco and are not vegan. I don’t recall a dessert I’ve been more obsessed with.  They’re soft and chewy and because they have oats and no egg I like to fool myself into thinking they’re not terrible for you.

********end of food talk********

  • A quick update to the baby review series: back when I posted about making Kate some receiving blankets a helpful reader Melanie directed my attention to the Miracle Blanket.  I ignored her advice until Kate’s squirming was really starting to drive me mental, then I broke down and ponied up for one.  It finally arrived last week and I’m pleased to say that she’s been sleeping one longer block in her baby straight jacket.  She still flops around like a docked fish from three a.m. onward but I’ll take any improvement I can get.
  • Also, I really want this sling because it is gorgeous, not because it is necessary.
  • Alicia is obsessed with Citronille patterns and now so am I.  I need to get Kate into Thadée.
  • We are leaving for Kitchener on Friday where I will be celebrating my 30th birthday by splurging on a new sewing machine.  I am preparing by cutting out all the fabric and patterns I own so that I can sew like crazy when I get it home.  I’m on a jersey dress kick but I am not enjoying cutting out the slinky stuff. The info in this link makes the process a little more bearable.
  • Erin got me a subscription to Frankie magazine.  Seriously.

I blame Robyn.  I dragged her to craft stores and she dragged me to every home store on the Western seaboard.  I may have dragged my feet and whined a little.  But then I started to realize something.  Robyn is a grown up. Grown ups buy things to make their homes presentable to their family and friends.  A snotty voice spoke to me.  It said: “Hey, guess what Amy?  You’re about to turn 29 and you don’t have a decent ware in your ugly house.  Your idea of a serving dish is a chipped Ikea 365 dinner plate you got nine years ago.  Bravo, dumbass.”

When I arrived at Erin’s the parade of lovely housewares continued.  She has every piece of Polish pottery ever glazed.

So, I went with my first instinct and drove to Ikea, which the province of Manitoba is totally devoid of.  And I was bored.

And so, I dragged our foursome to a series of antique and thrift shops and a new obsession was born.

It started with the smaller two delphite Pyrex Piecrust pattern plates bought at an antiques store for $16 a piece.  Then we found the larger version at Value Village for $5.99.  Craziness!  Chris’s jadite tea cup and the yellow dish were picked up an antique  / junk shop and the white Pyrex side plates were found at the same Value Village for $2.49.  We also found a milk glass vase there but I forgot to include it in the photo.  The bud vase is from Ikea.  Old habits die hard.

I am now in search of a sugar bowl and creamer, a large, rectangular, yellow table cloth with scalloped edges, more dinner plates (but not necessarily in the same pattern), and just about anything else that catches my fancy.

Another awesome Value Village score without the same visual charm is a totally unused French yogurt maker!

Unfortunately, I forgot to buy starter and a few key instructions are eluding us but I hope to try it out real soon.

Hooray for playing grown-up!

This would be a good theme for me to continue.  I often have tidbits that don’t deserve a full post.  So here goes:

  • Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake is amazing.  I didn’t even make the icing and it was so good.
  • Chris and I have been doing a little thrifting in the city hoping to find a sewing or dining table.  We haven’t had any table luck but…

    Buttonholer: 29 cents, awesome book: $4

    Buttonholer: 29 cents, awesome book: $4

  • I need a good pizza crust recipe.  I want a golden, light, airy crust not the floury, dense dud I always end up with.
  • While we’re at it I would love recommendations for a chunky, spicy, vegetarian tomato sauce.
  • I made a vegan blueberry cake this morning.  And then I slathered it with cream cheese frosting.

    Recipe from The Green Door Cookbook

    Recipe from The Green Door Cookbook

  • I requested and received the new Toast catalogue and while the clothes aren’t really my style I do want a pair of churidars.  They look lame on their own but under a tunic or dress they look so comfy and stylish.  I don’t have $68 CDN plus shipping to justify spending on leggings, however.
  • Can I just take a minute a solicit praise for not having bought any yarn since early November?  The only yarn I’ve bought has been with gift certificates and that was like four skeins.  I also haven’t bought any fabric except a half yard of flannel with some scant Etsy profits.  Thank you, thank you.
  • Tonight I’m going to try to copy Mondragon’s Twister wrap for dinner.  Wish me luck.
  • Good news!  The sock has been reunited with it’s owner.  Linda in Ottawa is again in possession of a set.  The saga was even included in Ravelry’s Forum Funnies this week.
  • Bad news! I have my first sock hole! It was inevitable really as these were the socks I grafted to within an inch of their life when the yarn was cut into a million pieces.  I guess I’ll be doing some darning research.
  • The new Twist Collective is out and it’s brilliant.  There’s hardly a piece I wouldn’t make.
  • The Interweave Winter preview is also out.  Whatevs.
  • I think it’s time for a custom header on this here blog.  Only problem is I haven’t a clue as to how to do it.  Any suggestions are much appreciated.  Please keep in mind I don’t, unfortunately, have Photoshop.
  • I’ve been cooking up a storm since there’s little else to do around these parts.  The showstoper recipe of the week is these Cottage Cheese Pancakes.  Oh my.  So good.
  • I’ve been spending my evenings while Chris is working with all the lights on and brainstorming design ideas with a healthy dose of help from the Domino Magazine website.  I’ll try to spread out the inspiration pictures I’ve been accumulating but here’s a good’un.
    Courtest domino magazine.

    Courtesy domino magazine.

    This is both the colour I want to paint the living room and the treatment I want to use for the headboard.  I can’t wait to get started!

My poor little Pentax Optio seems to be dying a sudden death.  First the port was acting up, then the white balance, LED screen and focus all went at once.  While I really want a digital SLR I don’t have the cash money for it right now so it looks like I’ll have to get the old one fixed or buy another pocket digital.  Oh my poor middle class self.

This made sock picture taking and shop updating mighty frustrating yesterday.  I spent the afternoon making stitch markers to then struggle for a couple of hours with the ailing camera.  I updated anyway because who knows when I’ll pick up a replacement so behold the blurry glory of new stitch markers.

I finally made use of all the vintage beads I picked up a while ago and I restocked the popular sweater in progress markers.  I’m really excited about the owl stitch markers because not only are they removable but they can be worn as earrings.  Fun!

When I designed and knit this hat I never imagined it would fit any human. Apparently a pink acrylic hat was placed on Sagan’s head shortly after her birth but was promptly replaced. It was a big hit at the birthing house.

Today I delivered some hand made personal care items to Michelle and some Ginger Cookies. But really I just couldn’t stay away from this little peanut.

People are starting to get the word: I like knitting. Give me a knitting-related gift and I will love it. Consequently, I was a lucky knitter this Christmas.

From Chris:

A Schrodinger Cube! I really loved this print and it’s even nicer in person. My only complaint is that it’s a wee thing and most of my DPNs don’t quite fit in it.

Some lovely Dream in Colour Smooshy in the gorgeous Dusky Aurora colour.

The much coveted sheepy Converses! I can’t wait to wear them. Hurry up spring!

And from Erin:

The Little Knitter from The Black Apple, of course.

Love them!

So I promised some resolutions. Last year I vowed to master stranded knitting and knit as many sweaters and socks as I could and I succeeded. Every year I had a knitting technique I had chickened out on but wanted to conquer but now I feel there’s not much to overcome. Having said that, there’s always so much to learn and do. 2008 will be the year of:

  • Sewing lots more of my own clothes and avoiding the mall as much as possible.
  • Learning more about sewing techniques and fabrics.
  • Being more laid back about my crafting and not being my own task master. I have to remember to enjoy myself and what I loved about knitting to begin with (being creative, connecting with tradition).
  • Being less critical of myself and celebrating my talents.
  • Stash management. Not a yarn diet, just being a little less crazed with the credit card and the internets.
  • Take my time with projects and make sure to add length!

That’s all that comes to mind right now. I’d love to hear any of your resolutions!

Tomorrow is Ladyfest’s Not Your Grandma’s (when will they change that title? I thought we had all agreed that it was dismissive of the lady crafters who set the scene for us younger DIYers) Holiday Craftsale.

 

This sale is a welcome change to the stodgy church basement craft sales that pop up all over the place but to be honest I’m really hoping they change up their vendors a bit this time.  I live less than a block away from the sale location and always stop by but I’m getting antsy for some fresh fare.  Not that I don’t love all the rockin’ standbys.  I have purchased much that they have to offer, but I’d love to see what some young upstarts have to offer.

In other news, I am weak.  No thanks to Michelle who now knows my shoe size and wants me to be roomies with her in the poorhouse, I am a few ebay hours away from owning these:

These match my other Fluevog’s  which doesn’t bother me at all.  Because they are glorious.  They will not fit my calves, of this I am sure, but Fluevog has a stretching contraption, so worse comes to worse, they will be wearable the next time I or Michelle goes to Toronto.  Of course I will not be able to wait that long, and will be spending the day I receive these coating my gams with Becel.

My chunky tights search is on the upswing.  I have discovered Tights Online.  They have XL cotton tights with a very generous size range but I really have my heart set on wool, so I ordered their wool tights in charcoal.  According to the size range I should be able to squeeze into them.

 Thank Santa for my recent work influx.

Apparently I can’t purchase anything without it turning into a fiasco.

So, last winter I was in desperate need of winter boots. Well, to be honest, the winter before I really needed them to combat the copious amount of snow that was dumped on Northern Japan, but I digress. I hit the malls, every mall, I went to sporting good stores and Mountain Equipment Co-op and generally everywhere in this city. I quickly realized that if I didn’t want crazy clunky North Face boots, or crazy ugly Uggs, I was S.O.L. Downhearted, I found myself at a remote horse riding supply shop on Boxing Day. To my surprise they had a fair selection of non-offensive boots. Short story long, I bought these.

And I was happy. Not too sporty, not too casual, just right. Except that they started to skin my heels. Inexplicably, I waited until last week to go bring them back. Seeing that the boots had a one year warranty, I was somewhat confident that I would be able to return them. No dice. Apparently the manufacturer’s website is a liar and it’s actually a one to three month warranty. Nice. I was told I could either wait forever to hear back from the manufacturer about a refund or I could exchange them for something from their now very minimal stock. Not wanting to trudge out into the snow in my heeless mary janes, I bought these.

To be honest I didn’t even like them that much but they were warm and my feet were cold so it seemed like a good call despite the fact that I would have to chip in a whopping $110 more than the original boots cost. Then they also began to shred my heels. Back to the store I went.

To my delight, not only did the cashier not give me attitude, she was also unaware that my first boots were unreturnable and she gave me a full refund for both boots. I sprinted through the parking lot before she could realize her mistake and try to take back my two hundred plus dollars.

Although I was now flush with mad cash, I was with chilly toes. Back to the mall where the Ugg/space boot dilemma again reared it’s ugly head.

But, being the optimistic sort (stop laughing) I saw an opportunity present itself. I’ve been whining for year that I want to dress less like this:

Especially in the winter. Instead of droopy pants and boring button down shirts, I wanted to wear pencil skirts, with knee boots and wool tights with a cable sweater. Think that chick who jumps on Hugh Grant in Love, Actually.

My problem was I didn’t have the boots and if I didn’t have the boots I couldn’t wear the skirts let alone the tights. But I couldn’t have the boots because according to every boot retailer I have tree trunk legs. Then I caught wind of Duo boots. These Monocos immediately found their way on to my hint list.

I love these boots. Deeply. But they’re not exactly the thing for running through the slush for the bus on my way to teach kindergarten.

So I started to think: if I got a pair of slightly more casual Duo boots, the snow would stay out of my socks but I would look like I actually think about what I wear, and they didn’t have to be lined with Thinsulate, because I can knit socks! I had a tough time deciding between the very practical Malmo

and the slightly sassier Ravenna

but an emergency caucus with shoe expert Michelle determined that Ravenna would look better with a skirt and would still be wearable. And so a pair of shapely, purty boots is on its way.

But what does this have to do with anything crafty?

Well 1) I plan on making this skirt (sidebar: Vogue Patterns is having a $5.99 sale) out of some herringbone suiting fabric ASAP.

And 2) with new sassy skirt at the ready I will need legwear. Again, the chunky legs ruin my life. It is impossible to find knit tights that will go above my knees. I am seriously considering making something like these

Except not fugly.