Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year!

Oh man- I just looked out into the living room- looks like something was called for and couldn't come- man! where am I going to put all this stuff???????? So far, I have just sort of shoved all of the presents under the tree. EEEK. Oh well, I will pay for all this tomorrow. We went up to my brother-in-law's on Friday morning and got back yesterday. I realized halfway back that I had left my precious little camera at his place (yes, they are going to have it sent to me). I am just not quite used to having it yet.
I had a couple of questions about my jacket- it is suede, soft blue, with embroidery down the fronts (flowers and leaves). The style is pretty basic- a fitted shirt jacket, really. I actually wore it today with a turtleneck underneath it (it has gotten pretty mild around here). I will try to get a picture taken of me in it and let you guys decide for yourselves!
Until then- Happy New Year!

PS- I did happen to knit- I made two hats (from the kids' book by Mission Falls) except that I used the new Vanna White acrylic (by Lion?). These kids don't wear wool easily (they get rashy)-but I was pleasantly impressed by this acrylic- both in colour choice and price point. The stuff actually feels like a good wool, on top of all of that. We shall see how it wears.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We're back!

And had a fine Christmas, let me tell you!!! The weather, last week, was all snowy and had the potential to produce a Christmas like I remember-banks of white snow, a feeling of cocooning inside your house- the Christmas lights burning through the mask of white- but no, rain followed by wind yielded dirty snow banks and that decidedly spring-like look. Then, a surprise snowstorm changed it all- nice clean white snow again! We spent Christmas Eve wrapping presents -this year, Annie got in on the wrapping- and while I stayed in the bedroom and wrapped the ones she couldn't see, she was a real little trooper and wrapped and tagged and worked really hard. When it was all over, we put the presents under the tree and stuffed all the stockings. I noticed she was looking at the piles pretty intensely, so I asked what was up. She said that she had looked through them all, and that she didn't know if Santa was going to come. Hmmm, I thought. 9 years old and right on the cusp of "Should I believe or not?"I asked if she wanted to put out the cookies and milk for Santa, and she thought that she would. But with reluctance. But all was right in her world on Christmas morning!!!!! She ran out (at 5:15 a.m., by the way) and saw the gifts under the tree. She got a sad little look- said that "Santa hadn't left her anything, just you guys" when she backed right into her new piano! (well, clavinova, in reality) with a big tag on it saying "To Annie, love Santa, Thanks for the treats". Later, she said that she knew Santa wouldn't let her down- since she was aware a clavinova was very expensive, and that we couldn't afford one, but that Santa made her one of her very own. So, one more year of "still believin'~!

I was rather spoiled- my husband's big gift to me was a brand new
Nikon CoolPix!!!!! It takes loads of pictures, even movies! And it is tiny, easy to use, and he says it is for my blog. Cool, eh? And as soon as I figure out how to get the pictures out of it, well, you will be the first to know! (yeah, I am a bit slow on technology)
The biggest surprise was from my in laws- after I had unwrapped all the presents (they tend to give "family type" things- works for me), my mother in law said hold on, I have to get one more thing- and out comes an embroidered leather jacket for me! Holy cow! I was really surprised!
Suffice it to say, I had a great day. And also because I was very pleased with what I gave to others (you know how you sometimes feel like you didn't quite pick the right thing sometimes? Well, none of that this time)
We had roast beef with the in laws yesterday, turkey with mom and my sister on Christmas Day (Mom had come here for Christmas breakfast) and we are off to my brother-in-law's tomorrow-if the weather holds.
All the best-

Sunday, December 23, 2007

We wish you........

A very merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season, filled with knitting and stitching and finishing up that one last project while watching tear jerker movies and all those good things! I still have to finish one more hat-------so, until then- adieu!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Books for kids......

I had a couple of emails about book titles for kids.... here are a few- I will try to get more later-
The Grimm Sisters series (there are 5 of them) by Buckley- Daphne and Sabrina have a happy life, until their parents mysteriously disappear. So, in waltzes Granny Relda (they thought she was dead) and she takes them in- and then the crazies start. Seems the girls are descendants of the real Grimm brothers, and the fairy tales are not stories- they are true accounts of crimes committed by Everafters (did you know that Riding Hood was actually a homicidal maniac? Or the police force-Hamstead and company- the three little pigs-their construction company fell through!!) Excellent read! Ages 9-12
The Philip Pullman series- The Golden Compass is the most famous one- go and see the movie trailer- enough said! Reading is a bit tough-at least a 12 year old read (and older)
Mature readers (as in the 13-14 year old crowd who can read anything) in my school have taken a liking to Mary Higgins Clark (girls mostly)-no swearing, no sex- but good reads.
Ridley Pearson (who has written spy things for adults and mysteries) is now writing a bunch of fantasy books for kids (11-12-13- and 14- year olds) They take place in Disneyland-and use techno scientific stuff- boys LOVE these books (I will have titles later-as well as more ideas!)
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Putting your money where your mouth is......

Big believer in that- always have been. That is how I got into designing sweaters for bigger ladies-because the size is one thing, fit is quite another. So- every year, at school, I model good reading practice, I read aloud from interesting books, I make sure the classroom is rich with print, and I sermonize endlessly about reading- about how a good reader just DOES better at school, and a kid who doesn't read for pleasure just may be missing something (I know- I can hear the emails and comments now- how people who have never ever read for pleasure are doing just fine, thank you very much-I know, I know- just hold your comments until I'm done) As I was saying- kids who have never really read for pleasure need to try it before they throw out the whole idea. And I truly believe that there IS a book for every child. Back to the money where my mouth is. I try to get to know the interests of all of my students, and, by December, hope to have figured them out. And then I go out and buy a brand new book for every child and wrap it up and give it to him or her for Christmas. So today was the day- I had my 25 books all wrapped, and I pulled out the box and started to hand them out. Well, you could have heard a pin drop! The kids tore open their books while I explained how much thought went into each one-and then the kids did the magical thing. They asked if they could have a quiet reading period so that they could enjoy their books! And they sat and read. And read some more. And they asked why I chose such and such a particular book for this person, and what interested me about that book. And then, during the day, just about every last one of them came up to me and said ,"Thank you so much for my book. I want to read it tonight when I get home." These are Grade 6 and 7 students here. 11, 12 and 13 year olds! I checked in the desks after they had been dismissed- not one book was left behind! On top of all that, today was the day that we made our "Gingerbread" houses. This is a week and a half long project, in which they have to draw a sketch of what they want, then a map (orthographic), then they have to build a cardboard structure (they will attach things to that), and draw up a shopping list (keeping within a budget), and then, finally, today, they put it all together. They used graham crackers, or wafers, or crackers, or cereal, or whatever to cover the cardboard. (icing is the glue). Then they used the icing to attach the candies and such. Here are a couple of pictures of projects on the go!
CN Towers and Chinese Pagodas and Beach Huts...... Click for BIG!
(And how to these structures get home???? Easy- +10 marks if they go home today or tomorrow, and 20 marks taken off if I have to dispose of them!!!!!!!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Suggestions PUH-LEASE!!!!!

I have two nephews (well, I have more nephews, but I am talking about these two right now) who basically have everything they have ever wanted and then some. Both teens- one is low teens, the other is high teens-and I have absolutely NO CLUE as to what to get them for Xmas!!!! I have sent them cheques to buy "x" (whatever the popular thing might be) and the cheques never get cashed. So, I thought gift certificates. But for WHAT?????? And if I wanted to send then a real thing, what would you suggest? Help me, out there- I need suggestions!!!! (Or else I might have to resort to some squirrelly weirdo knitted thing that will definitely make me lose status as "cool aunt" for ever!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Onto other things- Berroco has published the cutest set of wee sweaters to make and hang up as tree decorations-I just adore them!!!!! The patterns are free for all 12 of the sweaters- made out of a dk weight(maybe sport weight??? although it doesn't matter much) and the instructions for the wee coat hangers are also there.
Maybe when I am sitting in front of my tree on Christmas day(my mother is cooking the turkey at her house), I might start one or two to put away for next year. We'll see.
Speaking of tree- we haven't put up our Christmas Tree YET-we are terribly worried Mr. Bear will have some issues with it and take it down (or chew on some part of it) when we are out of the house. And you know, it is really hard to feel Christmassy when you don't have the tree up. So, it seems the tree won't go up until this Friday (when we can be at home to watch it. And Bear)
Annie has started to rally- good thing, too, since she has a speaking part in the "Seasonal Concert" on Tuesday. I have an issue or two with this concert. It seems the organizers have included Jewish songs and Arabic songs and a couple of other religions/cultures- but NO Christmas songs! One teacher was quoted as saying- "The Board doesn't allow us to do Christmas concerts." Well, the way I see it, if they are excluding the religious beliefs of 98% of our school population, in favour of the 2%-what's up with that????? But no, I kept my mouth shut, and painted the set (the principal and organizers always assume that I will paint the set (about14 feet high, by 32 feet across) for the "Seasonal Concert" with limited help from anyone-and no time during the school day to do it-and this year, they wanted the scene from Polar Express when the train comes down the kid's street-but no Christmas Trees, please.) So it is almost done- I need about an hour or so just to do the final touch ups.

Oh man- Bear just came in from outside with a dirty face. The damn dog has been eating poop again.

Can you feel the stress??????????????????????????????????????

Added later- I have found an outlet for my stress- Sober Santa- I'm not kidding! Try it!

Oops- I almost forgot to add the finished items to this post!

First- a before and after shot of a hat made from two colours of Manos wool-I LOVE the brown shade- it is brown and black with a hot shot of red-will go with both of my coats!!!!! Check out the size of the "before" hat- Holy Cow! It was a chair cover! (same chair in both shots, by the way)

And next-a "Shape it" scarf (Sally Melville) made out of Lion Brand's Moonlight Mohair. I really like this stuff- soft, glitzy, interesting colours- I used 2 skeins- I thought I would need three, but I didn't want to make the ends of the scarf too bulky- then you feel like the scarf is taking over. Anyhow, this is for Annie's teacher-she is a lovely, lovely woman- who is often "chilly", so I thought this would be a good idea. The shape of it gets the top of your back (like between your shoulder blades), while it also sits on your shoulders and doesn't slide around. So that much is done for Xmas!
(The hat, by the way, is for me- after the "garbage" fiasco of a few weeks ago)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Missie A.

Well, she is still no better. So we piled her into the car and took her down to the walk-in clinic that is affiliated with our family doctor. The doctor on call looked at her, said she didn't look so good, thought it might very well be a nasty virus, and then heard her cough. "Hmmm," said the doc, "I think I need to listen to her lungs. " Then she wrote out a request for a chest xray, saying that she couldn't be positive, since it was very noisy around the examination room, but she thinks Annie might have pneumonia. Poor kidlet. And no school until she has her energy back and has started to eat again. So I had taken off Monday. Sean took today and tomorrow. I will take Thursday off, and maybe my mother will do Friday (but only if Annie is more on the mend- my mother is nearing 80- and I really don't want her sick for Christmas.)

A funny little aside- my mother may be nearing 80, but she still looks like some of my 60 ish friends!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Knitters' magazine and Knitty

I used to be a staunch Knitters' magazine supporter. So much so, that I reasoned away the weird phase they went through as "just an occasional blip". You know the weird stuff-man- that was the time of sweaters that looked like the moths had held a convention in them, and hats that resembled head wraps gone bad. You know what I am talking about. So, I let my subscription lapse, in favour of Interweave Knits (which truly is a superior production-and I will always keep my subscription to that one). I have been monitoring the Knitters' magazine fairly closely- and well, I dunno. Is it worth it for the two or three good designs? Deborah Newton- always good. Kathy Zimmerman. Celeste Pinheiro, Jean Frost, Gitta Schrade, Norah Gaughan- can always be counted on for something interesting. But I have noticed that, in particular, the last issue, the sizing is getting narrowed again (as in XL for many is 48' chest) (what's up with that???) So I get the occasional Knitters', but am not yet ready to commit to a subscription. In fact, there are a couple of men's sweaters in the most recent issue that would suit a female better than a male!!!!!! (go and see- you will spot them right away!) So- no commitment there.

But Knitty! Holy Cow- the wee tiny on line magazine that started with some volunteer designers (myself included) has grown into a very slick and quite wonderful work! The most recent one has at least 4 things I would like to make- in particular- Abotanicity (**************), Matrix, Azure and Jeanie- and check out Dahlia- a HIGH SCHOOL student designed and knit that! Bloody amazing.
And it doesn't cost me the $7.95 Can. to buy a mediocre mag.

Now, these are all my own opinions- but what do you think?

Added later- My Annie is sick AGAIN. When she was about 4, she developed a very nasty virus- we ended up in CHEO- in Ottawa- for 3 weeks-and we were told that her immune system was going to be funky for awhile, but then she'd be fine. Okay- we went through that. But this kidlet has been sick every weekend (and during the week, as well) since September!!!!!! And this past weekend- she even missed one of her very best friend's dress up and birthday party!!! By Saturday noon, she was saying that she really did understand that she wasn't going to her friend's party- she knew how awful she felt. Poor kid.
Any ideas for remedies?? (and yes, she eats properly, gets enough sleep, takes vitamins, washes her hands regularly, plays outside when she is all bundled up). What's up with this?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I LOVE this sweater. It is in Animal Knits, by Zoe Mellor- I swear, the woman is so obviously in tune with what kids want to wear. She is very, very gifted. Her instructions are quite good, as well-nice, clear directions- nothing too "out there". Anyhow, a very dear friend, named Judy, asked if I would knit something for her grandson. Sure, I said- no problem. But what??? I slid over the "Animal knits" book, and in no time, she spied this little sweater. Apparently, the young man in question has a tiger that he MUST sleep with. So this is perfect! The yarn I am using is Naturally Buttons (the yarn in the book was Rowan DK cotton). The background is a bright teal green. The stripe and background of the tiger picture is yellow- and, of course, a bright orange and black tiger. I can hardly wait to finish the picture!!!! (And I will take a shot of the finished sweater).

And on to other news. School is roaring past at an alarming rate- I still haven't finished my Christmas shopping, or done any decorating- and I have to teach the kids at school more math! If you have any hints at how to get it all done- PLEASE! TELL ME!