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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.
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So, I totally lied about posting yesterday.   It seems that as soon as I declare success in the nap department Kate decides it’s time to shake things up a bit and not sleep ever.

Here are a few of the smaller things we’ve tried out so far:

Blue Celery Sling / Wrap Hybrid – 2 stars

I really liked the idea of the versatility of this sling. I thought being able to use one loop as a sling and not having yards of fabric to wrap every which way around you would be handy. Unfortunately, Kate is not a big fan of this whole system.  I think it hugs her a little too close to the body, which may suggest that the sling is too small but at the same time I feel like it sags and I have to hold her up in it which defeats the purpose of the whole thing.  She also really likes to look out when you’re carrying her but she’s not old enough for wearing in an outfacing position.  Mostly, this sling was a bust for me because of the cost.  All it is is some strips of jersey serged together. The long edges aren’t even finished which results in a lot of rolled in fabric riding up your back.  Chris wasn’t a big fan of it from the get-go and bought himself this Phil and Ted’s carrier which has a lot more going on at a much cheaper price.

Bummies Organic Prefolds + Bummies Super Bright Diaper Covers + Snappi Diaper Fasteners – 5 stars

We have nothing but good things to say about cloth diapering with this system.  It is so not a big deal to wash your diapers every few days, which is especially easy for me to say since Chris always washes them.  The Snappi isn’t necessary but they’re just a few bucks and they really make it easy to get the prefolds into the cover. Considering how many diapers Kate goes through I can’t even imagine what we’d be spending on disposables, especially given the highway robbery that is the prices at our rural grocery store. When Kate was in the hospital they used perfumed Pampers you could smell ten feet away. This is what they put on all the babies, not matter what their medical condition.  I could not believe it.

Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Shampoo (purchased at Superstore) – 5 stars

We didn’t plan on using any bath products initially but Kate’s full head of hair gets pretty greasy looking after a few days so I picked this at random off the grocery store shelf. I LOVE this stuff.  It smells like everything a baby should without any artificial perfumes (or parabens or sulfates).  You also only need a little drop so I think it will last a good long while.

Safety 1st High Definition Baby Monitor – 4.5 stars

I registered for this without really knowing what to look for in a monitor but this has great sound quality and it’s really small so your whole house looks a little less like Tom Hank’s apartment in Big. I will say this; when I was pregnant I openly mocked the fancy monitors that have sensors to see if the baby is still breathing or video screens, however, after Kate’s rough start I found myself constantly checking on her and then worrying about the creaking door waking her up.  So, if you’re expecting, you might want to wait until after you have the baby to see what your individual level of paranoia is.

A note on all the stuff I made for Kate when I was pregnant: all of the nursery stuff has done what it’s supposed to and I have no complaints there.  By far the most useful thing I made is the nursing pillow.  I obviously use it for nuring but it also comes in handy for propping Kate up on your lap for optimum eye contact or for sitting her in on the couch for photo ops.  The item we’ve used the least is the snuggler.  It seemed a bit too big when we first brought her home which is totally useless for swaddling and now that it’s beyond warm here the microfleece seems like it would melt her on contact.

If there are any other baby-related goods you’d like to know about or if you’d like shower gifts don’t be shy to ask.

My expectant friend Krystyna has requested a review of the various baby products we’ve tried out and now that we’ve finally gotten Kate into a good nap routine I’m happy to oblige. I’ll break it up over a few snack sized posts.  I should say up front that I’m not important enough to have any of these products sponsored so don’t fret yourself about me being a corporate shill. Having said that, if any baby companies want to send some free stuff my way I’m not above charity.

I’ll try to link to where we originally got the product and all photos are courtesy of the respective sites.

Fisher Price Papasan Cradle Swing – My Little Lamb – 3 stars (out of five)

This swing sits in our living room and is a great place to plop Kate when we need to run to the bathroom or shovel in some food.  The material lining the seat is beyond soft and I kind of wish it came in adult sizes.  My major beef with this swing is that the lowest swing setting was insanely fast when Kate was first born.  Now that she’s ten pounds plus we can swing her on the lowest setting comfortably but I still would not go beyond that.  There are a myriad other speeds that she may never experience since she may not be able to use it much longer because it’s only appropriate up until she can sit up on her own.  She also isn’t quite aware enough yet to get any benefit from the mobile and mirror and might not until she’s too old to use the swing.  I also had visions of this rocking Kate gently to sleep but I think she’s fallen asleep in it a grand total of two times.  This may be because she’s a bit of a clingy baby but it’s worth noting.  Another little complaint is that it takes up quite a bit of space in our already cramped living area.  I haven’t tried one but sometimes I think a cheap bouncy / vibrating chair would be just as handy. Others have complained about it eating up pricey D batteries but I haven’t really noticed this, probably because we don’t have it turned on much.

Spa Baby Bathtub (actually purchased in store here but it’s not listed on their site) – 4.5 stars

I was terrified of using this the first time and initially it was a two man job, which is the only reason I knocked off a half a star because otherwise Kate loves her bathtub.  Before she lost her umbilical stump we bathed her laying down in our big tub on a towel and she screamed the entire time.  She’s all smiles with this bucket set up.  Now that she can hold herself up pretty well (we like to think of her as a neck strength prodigy) it’s a breeze to bath her. I recommend checking out the how-to video on the product website if it seems daunting to use.

Quinny Buzz 3 Stroller + Maxi Cosi Infant Seat (ours is actually the discontinued lemonade colour) 3.5 stars

I don’t have a ton of experience trying out strollers so this one is a toughy but here goes: the stroller is smooth and handles well. I do run into things often in close quarters because the rear wheels are wider than the stroller itself and apparently I have no depth perception.  Both the stroller and car seat are lightweight and the stroller packs up small which was essential since we don’t have much trunk space.  The car seat, however, is pretty large and can’t be placed behind the passenger seat in our Matrix without it being pulled all the way forward to the dash. My biggest problem with this system is that the only thing I can do easily is expand the stroller from its collapsed position. I’ve only had a bit of practice since we don’t go out much and I couldn’t lift anything until a few weeks ago on account of having a c-section but collapsing the stroller and lifting the car seat out of the car and stroller is a total headache for me. Chris reports that he also has a bit of trouble getting the car seat out of the stroller and that the brake is a bit tough to engage. Also, if you plan on toting a lot of junk around the mall this is also not the stroller for you.  It has a tiny triangular insert that goes between the wheels on which you can fit a few diapers and a burp cloth and that’s about it.  It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a pricey system.  The car seat was a gift and we would not have been able to afford the whole thing otherwise. (Just a note: if your car set is green everyone will assume that your baby is a boy even if she is wearing a dress and even if they knew you were having a girl.)
Arm’s Reach Mini-Convertible Co-Sleeper 4 stars

This little unit is attached to our bed on my side so I can easily hear Kate wake up and nurse her.  I love not having to get out of bed and walk to her room at 3 a.m. to see what’s up and I also love being able to sleep with her near by without her punching me all night.  The nifty thing is that the whole thing also turns into a play pen which will be handy later on.  Also, it collapses into a storage bag so we can take it with us on our travels (like to my grandparent’s in Ontario next week!)  Chris had some difficulty assembling it so set some time aside for that if you go this route but otherwise it’s been a good buy.

I’ll be back soon with some more reviews!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone again but all the new toys around here tell me it’s so and it’s time to reflect on the year in craft.  I love setting these little goals for myself, even though I fail to ever set personal ones.  Here’s a look at the 2009 list:

  • Blast the stash.  Yarn and fabric buying will be a reward for good behaviour (i.e. paying off debt) or will be requested as gifts.  I need to work with and rework what I have, including the old clothes quilt I started four (!) years ago.  If I buy yarn or fabric I want it to be because I’m inspired not because it’s 30% off. I think I really did well here.  I finished the quilt and the only yarn I bought was for the cabled blanket.  That’s it! I still have some stash to work through but most of it is from unravelled projects.
  • KISS.  Hand painted and variegated sock yarns have their place but I need to amass more solids and semi-solids to have more pattern options. I didn’t purchase a single muli-coloured skein.
  • Think outside the crayon box.  I always, ALWAYS choose cool colours (not as in hip but as in “what season are you?”) and I need to branch out to more neutrals and earth tones.  Maybe even orange *shutters* The only yarn I bought was a rather somber grey so I give myself kudos for this one too.
  • Be thankful.  I’m pretty lucky to have a working sewing machine, camera, dozens of craft books and many other accouterments.  I’m going to try not to be jealous every time a fellow blogger gets a new fancy toy and be happy with what I have. The materialism that seems to have risen with the rise of craft is a peeve of mine and yet I fall into it myself. This is ongoing but I really feel that I learned to love my sewing machine.  My Bernina lust is an infrequent twinge and I’ve realized that my machine is reliable and sturdy and really what more can you ask for?
  • Lay off myself.  I have completely reworked my Ravelry queue to include only two items.  Everything else has gone into favourites.  It started to feel like a task list to be checked off.  I want to knit more on a whim and design from inspiration rather than feeling married to the list. I think I got a little better with this too.  I still need to empty out the yarn cubby completely before I can cast on freely but I’m almost there.
  • Take my time and enjoy.  It’s a hobby not a race.  If there’s a technique a pattern calls for or an extra little touch I could add I need to get off my arse and pick up a book rather than ignoring it and pushing through for expediancy. There is still something deep in my psyche that tells me to knit or sew my ass of so I can move on to other things and that will probably be a constant but I think I did learn some new techniques and tricks.
  • Take millions of pictures of my finished garments.  I tend to take four or five and trust that one of them is good.  It never is. Still have to work on this one.  I should have some new help with my fancy pants new Nikon D5000 although I have to learn how to use it first.  Any digital SLR hints that you can throw my way are much appreciated.  So far my portraits of Bowie are top notch but my project and yarn photos have all ended up in the trash.

And so onward to 2010!  I’m not going to be so hard on myself this year what with the baby coming and all but I would like to continue culling the yarn collection and embracing the world of neutrals.  I’m so inspired by Elly and Jenny’s Scandinavian aesthetics and I can’t wait to explore that more.

See you next year!

This is going to look a little familiar.

It’s another embroidered binder cover.

But it’s for my knitting patterns!

It’s about time I liberated them from the plastic folders they were living in because I rediscovered a lot of forgotten gems.

Once again I followed instructions from Stitched in Time and used embroidery designs from Cute Embroidery Designs Volume Two.

I had a mini meltdown at the end of last week but I’m feeling much better so, in celebration, some random things that make me happy:

Drum roll please………………………………….

Two months from today we are moving to:

We’re pretty disappointed as it was our dead last choice but it’s out of our hands.  We’ll find out next week where exactly we’ll be.   *please not Churchill, please not Churchill*

I’ll have some finished projects to show you next week but in the meantime here’s a half assed book review:

This week I checked The Body Shape Bible out of the library.  I don’t typically watch all those wear what we tell you to shows because I feel physical embarrasment for the middle aged women getting their boobs fondled in the middle of Marks and Spencer.  But, I thought I could handle a little direction in picking out patterns so I gave Trinny and Suzanna’s newest book a go.

With an excessive use of the term “tits” the book describes a dozen or so bodyshapes and gives wardrobe do’s and don’ts for that particular figure.  I fell into the hourglass category and I found that I was doing better than expected at dressing myself. Here’s what I should be wearing.

I always go for V-necks and puffed sleeves, I’ve been wearing more and more skirts and dresses and those shoes are pretty similar to the ones I got from Zappos a few months back.  There were also some revelations, such as the fact that I should be wearing very fitted pencil skirts rather than flared A-line or fuller designs.  Now the only question is where do I get the patterns for the skirt and dress pictured above?

The most surprising section of the book was the last one.  It is entirely devoted to remaking existing clothing in your closet.  It starts out with an intro discouraging people from heading to the mall and shows some vintage and outmoded pieces updated.

So timely and handy for my refashioning pledge!

P.S. Fluevog is having another great sale and I received these last week.  They’re a great price but be aware that they are a full size smaller than marked.

And she’s not quite sure how to use them.

I was most looking forward to receiving the Japanese patterned pair but now that they’re here I actually prefer the gold ones.  They’re more comfortable and the green on the second pair is more green that they appeared online.  I like them both a whole lot though and I can’t wait to wear them to work.

I don’t think I would normally wear these with nylons (it’s not advisable with open toed shoes – right?) but I had to give props to these new ones I bought to wear at Chris’s party (thanks to everyone who came and helped out – we really, really appreciated it).   They’re Filodoro Classic, they’re made in Italy and I got them at Fancy Socks.  I’m now convinced that legwear is one of those things where price equals quality.  These fit really well, they feel great and I’ve worn them twice and they are still without holes or runs which is more than I can say for regular department store nylons.

Tomorrow I will be spending approximately eighteen hours in a rented car so I thought a new sock was just the thing to keep me awake and calm while other drivers did stupid things on snowy roads. At first I thought a plain sock would be my best bet. No pattern to keep track of so it would be easy to pick up and work on. But I strongly feel that the beautiful sock yarns in my stash deserve better. I sifted through all the patterns I have in my Ravelry queue and saved to my desktop and settled on Nutkin. I’m really glad I did.

This pattern reminds me of Monkeys (the socks, not the mammal) because it’s easy to remember and addictive. I’d love to try these again in a solid or semi-solid yarn that would show off the pattern more. I’m using the Pony Pearl DPNs that Michelle sent me. At first I hated them because they’re a bit dull but now I think they’re great. They’re really lightweight unlike Addi Turbos and they have a bit of bend. The dullness actually works well with the splitty Paca Peds yarn.

I’ve realized that I’m never going to feel like putting on tights, my new boots, and the skirt I’ve made, let alone brushing my hair and putting on mascara to get a picture to post. But I’m rather proud of the skirt I finished a few weeks back so my bed was kind enough to model it.

The pattern called for wool crepe or gabardine, which seems to cost about thity dollars a yard, so it was polyester blend suiting for me. Unfortunately it weighs six pounds looks a bit like upholstery on me but I’m really happy with how the pleats, zipper and curves came out considering I’m still a beginner sewer.

The Duo Boots came last week and once the bitterness of having to turn seventy bucks over to customs subsided I took them for a walk around The Glebe. It was not a pleasant trip. Apparently the boots are not as waterproof as one might imagine. I got a waterproofing spray and that seems to have done the trick. They do fit very well in the calve, although they bunch up a bit around the ankles and are quite big in the foot. I wear a size 9 which, according to their site, translates to a 40 European. I probably should have gotten a 39 or 38. They are really comfortable, however, and I have no qualms about wearing them all day.

I also got my wool tights from Tights Online this week. They are loooooong. But, they fit my thighs and hips and they’re warm, so I’m happy.

Now that all of my Christmas cards have been sent, and I’m assuming received, I can show you what I chose from Etsy. It was hard to narrow it down but these ones were my favourites.

A little bird told me from Mew Paper Arts.

Kobito Elves from Fugu Fugu Press.

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas, or relaxing long weekend, as your background dictates. I will no doubt have some new yarn / knitting related goodies to show you when we get back from out East in a little over a week. So long!

I’ve worked a whole day today and I am tired. I know, so pathetic. But teaching and taking the bus and grocery shopping are tiring, especially after four months of barely leaving my apartment. I did get a lot of work done on my mom’s socks while the students watched videos and made homophobic comments (god I hate teenagers).

Anyway, the Interweave preview is up. While I think the cover looks like a 1983 Woman’s Day,

I do love the cover sweater as well as this

and this

I potentially love the Farrow Rib Cardigan, Ruched Shell and Gathered Pullover but I’ll have to wait to see bigger photos to see if they’ll be added to the queue.

I caught the second half of the second episode of Project Runway Canada and was sufficiently hooked to watch the first episode online this morning first thing (it’s a difficult life, this). I kind of love Carlie but that may just be because of her kick ass hair. I hadn’t seen the American version before so I was surprised that most of the participants were already fairly successful designers and therefore wickedly talented for the most part. Except Megan. You can’t sew? Really? You were aware that this was a show for people who want to make clothing right?

I want to hate Iman because she’s married to my boyfriend and, well, I do. It’s not all her fault. I’m sure she didn’t beg them to use “you just don’t measure up” ad nauseum and she sounds fine when every single word coming out of her mouth isn’t scripted but that isn’t often enough to make her bearable to listen to.

Regardless, it’s quite inspriational and I walked to the grocery store today critiqueing every lunch break office worker’s outfit. It wasn’t difficult. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who are supposed to be professionals dressing like they’re at a slumber party when they were twelve. Don’t even get me started.

This pre-dates my PRC period, but I skipped to Heavens to Betsy this weekend and got a cute hat.

Who loves a cheesy vignette?

I love it so much that it doesn’t bother me at all that I have no upward vision when wearing it.

In knitting news, I finished the back of Shetland on Thursday or Friday and blocked it a few minutes ago.

I would have liked to block it a little more aggressively but it was to measurement as is and I didn’t want to make it huge. I’m about half way through the front.

Question: When I meet Veronik Avery and possibly Kate Gilbert in Montreal on the 28th is it super cheesy to wear one of their patterns? Should I try to be all cool and wear a Eunny Jang?

That’s right, Robyn is organizing a get together on the day I get to Montreal and she’s invited the Montreal knitterati. Jealous?