Thursday, October 30, 2008


(Turn and face the strange)
Don’t want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
From: Shrek, The Movie

“Now tell me, girls and boys, what is a knitter to do when she can’t knit?” Asks the Powers That Be.
“Gee, Powers That Be, we don’t know. What is a knitter to do when she can’t knit?” Ask the children.

In this post, I mentioned that I was working on something fibre related which was not knitting and I never got back to telling you more. I took another rug hooking course when we were in Newfoundland this past summer.

This time, I was the lucky student of my cousin’s fiancĂ©e, J. We enjoyed our class in their stunningly beautiful new home just outside St. John’s.

DH had already headed home in hopes that I would get another five days of visiting with family and friends before taking the ‘easy’ route and flying home with Iain. Little did we realise how much the challenges (and stresses!) of coping with a busy baby in not so child proof houses was going to work out. This is how it worked out: Iain + him getting into everything = frazzled Mommy.

The night of the hooking course, I had it all planned. Iain would eat his supper, be bathed in time to be nursed and would be off to sleep before I put him in the car seat. We’re lucky, Iain is usually moveable like that when he is asleep and that night was no exception. Unfortunately, when the movement of the car stopped where the course was being held, Iain woke up. And he bloody well stayed up for the whole evening!

Luckily, the other two classmates were two of my aunts (who likely have their projects finished by now. Do you, Aunt J? Aunt P? Let’s see some progress shots!) and were pretty forgiving of a baby frolicking around the kitchen, wired for sound. My instructor, J, was also a sweetie and took Iain a few times so I could at least practice hooking a bit. J teaches using strips of wool fabric and the class I had taken before used knitting yarn. I found the wool strips more difficult so there was a lot of whining coming from my side of the table. Additionally, because Iain was awake, I ended up feeling really, really frustrated by the end of the night because I had been hoping for a relaxing evening enjoying a new craft and some great company but, instead, and ended up leaving in a rush (I apologise again for being contrary, Ladies!) so that Iain could get to bed.

Let us come to more recent events. My hands seem to be healing but are still very sore. I am not out of the woods yet by a long shot. I tried to knit with alpaca on the weekend, just in case it is wool that I am sensitive to (shudder). Knitting was a big mistake. The feel of any type of fibre moving over the patches on my hands drove me to just this side of insane. I cannot paint because the skin on my right forefinger is so badly damaged that it feels ‘deadened’ so I cannot handle a brush properly (I don’t think I’m whining, just trying to state a few facts. Okay, so I am whining!). However, all that being said, I am not giving up on fibre. No Siree.

Instead, I’ve found something that involves fibre and doesn’t seem to give my hands problems. I’ve been hooking!

And, if you are interested in taking rug hooking classes from one very talented lady who can provide lessons in either Newfoundland or Toronto, simply contact me and I will hook you up (no pun intended…). The beginner pattern I’m working on here is one of J’s original designs and, in her classes, you get the option of a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter colour selection in your kit. J is really neat and talented and just won her first rug hooking competition on a rug she both designed and hooked this past summer! Go, J!

“And what is it very, very important to do when a knitter is unable to knit and realises this fact for the umpteenth time?” Asks the Powers That Be.
“Tread vewy, vewy carefully. Vewy, vewy carefully indeed!” Whisper the children.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Sewing We Will Go

I know I’m not the only one out there who was/is doing this, frantically planning and cutting out fabric to sew up a handmade Halloween costume. Why do we do this to ourselves? I think it has a little do to with stories like this one.

A long time ago, in a province not too far away from where I’m sitting and typing, there was a little girl living in outport Newfoundland who wanted to be a ballet dancer (well, actually, if you’d asked me at the time I may have meant ballet dancer but I said belly dancer. My mother couldn’t figure out for the life of her where I’d gotten the idea to become a belly dancer. Don’t get me wrong, none of us have any negative associations with belly dancing. It is just that in the early 1970’s in outport Newfoundland, the thought of a four year old wanting to become a belly dancer would have created something of a stir. Mudder finally figured out that I meant ballet dancer, after I gave her a demonstration of my prowess).

The story starts with a young girl with a burning desire to become a ballet dancer. And what is a loving mother to do but try and make that dream a reality? She did it too. My mother made me a ballet dancer costume and I just loved it. It made me feel like a ballet dancer and a beautiful princess at the same time.

I still love it. It’s in my basement safely packed away as I type.

I still love that green fabric on the bodice. You can’t tell from this picture but close up it looks as though it has been sewn through with silver thread. I have no idea where my mother found this fabric but it still ranks up there with my most favourite fabric. Ever.

With this story in mind (and, yes, I realise that Iain will likely have NO memory of this particular Halloween), I embarked on the following journey. I rooted around in my fabric stash until I found some lovely fun fur that I was lucky enough to have been given a few years ago. Black and white were the choices so I decided on Iain becoming a very ferocious Panda Bear. I trotted off to the fabric store and found a ‘quick and simple’ pattern. Luckily, the cutting and sewing went as advertised.

I had to sew fast, though, as Iain’s first Halloween event was this past Saturday – almost a whole week before the actual date! The pressure!

The fur was interesting to work with. The white fur is just as you probably imagine fun fur to be. The backing is rough but, on the whole, it wasn’t too difficult to work with. The black fur, although still synthetic, is of very high quality and shed like a real animal. It was also a bit of a nightmare to sew as it was so darn thick. On the good side, though, the backing of the black fur is like a soft suede and feels gorgeous against the skin.

Note: No actual Panda Bears were harmed in the development of either this blog post or this year’s Halloween costume. You’d never believe it from this picture though.

And this is just a small example of how the black fur shed when it was cut!

I was up until 1:30 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning sewing. But, I got ’er done.

And it was totally worth it.

It is also an exceptionally great costume for cold Canadian outdoor Trick or Treating. A little on the warm side for wee indoor Panda Bears however…

PS I should probably mention that the very cute little boy, excuse me, Superhero, standing next to me in the pictures above is one of my little brothers - the one closest to me in age. He granted me permission to use these photographs as he did not feel you would recognize him when he was wearing ‘civilian’ clothing. Interestingly enough, this same brother is now 6’3” tall, built like Laird Hamilton (and he is a surfer too!) and shaves his head. The opportunity to present him to you for the first time wearing tights was just too good a one to pass up…

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Bane of Halloween

I try to buy our Halloween treats as close to the 31st as possible. Yes, I realise that this means I might not get the best bargain or, necessarily, the best of the best treats (my apologies in advance to those coming to our door). However, there is a very good reason why I put off buying our treats to the last minute. Obviously, this past Sunday was still too early for me to be trusted. This is why we shouldn’t buy our treats too early.

To be fair to me, the boxes aren’t completely full when they’re packaged. ‘Settling’ the companies call it. I call it a rip off but I still seem to buy them anyways. And, I swear, DH did help eat a bit too. Still, I'm a big girl and can admit that we can place about 95% of the blame on me.

Sigh. Here I sit all alone on my chocoholic wagon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Did You Know?

That a week ago today, DH, Iain and I were in Newfoundland? I know, I know, I didn't tell you, did I?

We left here at o’dark early Saturday morning, October 18th, for a 7:15 AM flight and returned on an o’ungodly early 5:30 AM flight from St. John’s on Tuesday, October 21st. It was a quick trip but a wonderful one. The Atlantic smells the best to me when I’m home and it was so nice to get big hugs from Mudder, Fadder, one of my Little Bro’s that is living on the island right now and our SIL, especially considering everything else that has gone on with us over the past month and a half.

This picture was taken on the flight to Newfoundland – Iain enjoying the great Air Canada ‘food’ (aka the food we brought with us).

Although short, we actually managed to see almost every person we usually see on a two week visit home (my apologies to Aunt J and Uncle L in Mount Pearl who we didn't manage to see. I am ashamed…(picture me with my head hung in shame here)). Newfoundland is prettier in the fall than I remember and that I really, really miss my home province. Sadly, we have very few pictures taken with Iain and our relatives so I am counting on my Fadder for some pictures of our trip (yes, that is a hint, Fadder!).

This is one of the reasons why I miss home. Here are some shots of Iain heading for the North Atlantic from my parents front garden. It’s a good thing it isn’t pretty….

DH told me that Iain had his hands right in the water. That child has no fear and no sense of cold either as it’s looking pretty chilly to me out there!

DH took these pictures while Mudder and I were off for a shopping trip to Dominion (a local supermarket chain known as the Superstore in other parts of Canada). When family is visiting from ‘away’ (that’s what Newfoundland and Labradorians call anywhere outside the province), you can be guaranteed that there will be a crowd at the house that wants and needs a feed.

On the way back from the island, we were all exhausted. Not only was it an early flight but we were up late the night before with Iain who, for the first time, got really, really carsick on our way home from my brother’s place in St. John’s. We all had a really rough night. By ‘morning’ (I use that term loosely as 3:00 AM when our alarm went off is not really morning as far as I’m concerned), we had been up with Iain several times, he was running a fever and had to be dosed up with Tylenol. Not. Fun. Therefore, by the time we boarded the plane, we were very tired. DH told me that the flight attendants were poking fun at the exhausted parents when they went by with the service cart as the three of us were sitting there with our mouths hung open, sleeping. I didn’t even hear the cart go by.

We spent the rest of the week recovering and, ahem, sewing…

Monday, October 20, 2008

In Case You Needed a Smile Today...

...Here's one from Chez Fibreholic to you.
Iain is turning into such a ham for the camera. This is definitely a fake smile but, I think, cute just the same.

Nope, no knitting yet. Sigh.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Knitted Hat

Hurrah! Knitting content on this blog! Too bad it’s not mine…

One of the lovely presents we received when we were expecting Iain last year (was that only last year?) was a gorgeous hand spun, hand dyed, and hand knit Blueberry Hat from a very close friend of ours (who also happens to be the same wonderful lady who was such a fantastic support to DH’s family when my MIL passed away. We cannot thank you enough, D). I blogged about that lovely present here at the time.

When I received this wonderful gift, I remember thinking ‘Wow! It’s so big. My baby isn’t going to fit into this present for years.’ Ah, the cockiness of pending motherhood. That is a small indication of just how little I know and how very, very much D knows.

This is Iain modelling his hat exactly a week ago today.

DH turned the brim up because he thought it made Iain look something like Relic (non-Canadians may not get this...). That’s something we aspire to around here, you know? A child that looks like Relic (he's the guy in the middle. Not a great shot of his hat but you get the idea)... Incidentally, D knits and lives in Gibsons Landing so there is a bit of a Beachcombers theme to this particular knit.

I tried and tried to get a smiley picture to no avail. This is a great shot of the bruise on Iain's right cheek (caused by a collision with a chair leg) and his split lip (caused by falling down one step, onto his face on the concrete walkway below). Poor kid had a bad week.

“Playing in your sandbox is very serious business, Mom.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Passionate About Pumpkins!

I should have just started off the blogging month with a blanket title declaring the month of October pumpkin month. Yep, I’m going to talk more about them.

Last Monday, after sitting back and licking our wounds a bit from our red eye return into Halifax that Saturday morning, I decided that Iain really, really needed some ‘other children’ time and managed to get our arses in gear and brought him pumpkin picking. The Annapolis Country Family Resource Centre is excellent and this was one of the planned outings for one of the child programs we attend during the course of a regular week.

Although we had already harvested pumpkins in our back yard, really, can you ever harvest too many?

Here is Iain searching for the perfect pumpkin with the larger group in the background.

There is nothing cuter than toddlers searching for the perfect Jack O’Lantern. As you can imagine, it was photo op central for more than just this Mommy.

It is really too bad I can’t knit right now. Iain is desperate for a light pair of mittens (we have one pair for him and they are a heavy sheepskin pair perfect for cold, cold winter days and not bracing Fall ones).

His wee hands got pretty cold on Monday. And Tuesday…

My hands? Healing, albeit slowly. Typing still hurts (thus the decrease in blog posts and lack of lurking or commenting on most blogs or Ravelry). I promise I will be back soon!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the neat things about living in the Annapolis Valley is having the opportunity to see, experience and participate in traditions that we are not familiar with.

One of those traditions are Pumpkin People (my name. I have no idea what their real title is).

I really must get some information regarding their history (I suspect it has something to do with scarecrows but I am really only guessing).

Here is a glimpse of some of the Pumpkin People we saw today on a Thanksgiving family drive.

And, the grand finale (Yep, I made DH stop and turn the car around to catch this one...)!

I hope you all had a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend (See?!? When I can't regale you with tales of knitting, I can always overwhelm you with family tales and pictures!)!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fallish Fun

Autumn is my favourite time of the year. It is probably not surprising that my favourite colour is orange, followed by brown. I love the colours, the smells, the fresh breezes that come with the change of season. I love the harvesting, the preserving and freezing, the baking. I love the feeling that snow is on it's way but that we still have some glorious days to get outside and play without the heavy layers required by winter temperatures.

I also really love sharing this season with my little boy. Although this is Iain's second autumn, it kind of feels like his first as he was so wee last year and, really, not so much into the whole autumn season. He was more into the 'keep me warm and where is my food source?' kind of mind frame. This year, though, things have changed.

Iain loves apples. It's unfortunate that he does not yet have the grinding teeth required to eat them properly so he ends up spitting out quite a bit of skin and apple when he gets his mouth full. He really enjoys the challenge though!

He is also so interested in anything and everything!

Here is he quite seriously contemplating diving into the water fountain during our visit to Victoria, BC.

We have really enjoyed our first pumpkin harvest from our very own garden!

Our pumpkins are gently ripening up now that they are scattered around the house and yard as decorations and not under their frost bitten vines. I find it very satisfying each time I see one of them peeking up at me.

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them -
The summer flowers depart -
Sit still - as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Cannot Knit

Warning: You may notice some whining ahead. If you're not in the mood, skip this one. I'll try and do better next time.

Thank you so much to everyone who sent emails, cards and comments regarding my mother-in-law passing away. DH, Iain and I very much appreciated them all. We arrived back last Saturday morning into Halifax from the red eye flight from Victoria and have spent the week trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy. That's been difficult considering we have no heat, a leaky chimney, both the dishwasher and computer are not working (thus the lack of blog posts and consider this my advance apology for spelling/grammar errors in this and subsequent posts. I am unable to open MS Word on our computer and cannot complete a spell check at present), and it does not look like we will be able to get anyone in to help us fix our house problems before December. See? Whining!

I can't knit. For those of you who are faint of heart, you might want to sit down. It is true and you did read that right. I simply cannot knit right now. Have not been able to for a week or so. Heck, I can barely type. The responsible problem can be summed up in one word: exzema. I will not submit you to pictures of my poor hands but I feel it sufficient to say that the skin on three of my fingers no longer looks so much like skin and I am in agony quite a lot of the time.

I did not suffer from exzema before I had a baby. The doctor thinks my hand problems are due to excessive dryness due to hand washing. DH thinks I might be allergic to wool. I'm ignoring DH. Some things are just too terrifying to contemplate.

Although I have been experiencing a problem with exzema on my hands for over a year now, it was only on our trip West that things got really out of control. Prior to that time, I was lucky enough to have exzema patches on my hands but always where it did not affect my knitting. However, I am allergic to the baby wipes that we only use when travelling and the over two weeks spent away from home has been hellish on my skin. In particular, on my right forefinger. That's the one I need to slide my yarn over to knit.

The silver lining in this very dark knitting cloud is that I've been wanting to learn how to knit continental for a long time. I hear it's faster. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time at all, you will appreciate how much I would benefit from the powers of faster knitting. If I knit using the continental method, I wouldn't have to run fibre over my right forefinger at all. The question is, though, would I get the same gauge as I do with English knitting? And do I have the patience to learn under the time contraints of 'the holidays are coming' coupled with itchy, weepy skin? I'm not sure but it's certainly worth considering. And, I know someone who lives near me who knits using the continental style...
Stay tuned!