Sunday, December 26, 2010

the economy of hand-knit socks

just a quick post to show off the christmas knitting i've been doing the last few weeks but, for obvious reasons, couldn't post (in case the intended recipients saw them in advance!). i also knit a sweater for my love but haven't sewn the buttons on yet, so as soon as i do that, i'll post pics of it as well!!

christmas was nice...stressful at times, but nice. i have no energy as of late and getting through the days without falling asleep can be challenging. i've also been battling really bad back pain and sleep problems due to being 32 weeks pregnant...having a toddler to entertain and a house to build is not always conducive to peaceful living. but i'm learning lessons of patience and the importance of pacing myself in spite of the pressure to go-go-go. i have only a couple of shifts left at work (12 hour shifts i might add, which do NOT help the back pain unfortunately), followed by some scheduled vacation days and then...thank goodness...MAT LEAVE! i have no stamina for the long shifts anymore, so i'm really looking forward to the time off (even though i don't work very often).

i did find some time to knit presents though, which is what i prefer to do every year. everybody i know has the capacity to buy what they need, just about whenever they need it, and so buying presents is often a struggle. i like to put thought into gifts but the frenzy to buy stuff (for the sake of buying stuff) for people irritates me. on the flip side, i find it overwhelming to RECEIVE gifts that i don't really need as well because i have little room to fit most things but feel pressure to keep them for fear of hurting the feelings of those who gave the stuff to me. 

there seems to be this whole notion that lots of money spent on a gift = lots of love from the giver to the receiver. they say time=money so i look at knitted gifts as also being gifts of love. so although a single knitted gift may seem like a small contribution, the time taken to knit it makes it special. 

i can even quantify it for you. my sister's socks for example (seen below) took, i dunno, say 8 hours to knit, including weaving in ends (there were lots of ends) and blocking. if i worked at my formal place-of-work for 8 hours, and spent the money made in 8 hours on something from a store, brand-new, (likely made overseas using lots of fossil fuel to get to canada) i would have had a couple hundred bucks to spend on her. however the work put into the socks was informal and unpaid, and to some people, not as valuable as the work i put in at my formal job.

of further note: the wool i puschased to make the socks was made in canada, which means that the gift has a smaller footprint than something made overseas. i got to work on my craft, plus my sister has custom made, SUPER-warm, one-of-a-kind socks in colours she likes. win win on all sides. pretty rad, right?

unfortunately, hand crafted stuff is not always regarded as equal in value to bought stuff. in a capitalist system, it is hoped that one will buy the $200 gadget from the store (think of all the hands that get paid in the process...from the asian factory where it's made to the individual workers employed at the factory; then consider the large corporation whose name is on the item, the advertising companies promoting the item, oil and shipping companies who ensure the goods get to canada, and the big box store from which the item was bought, and the employees whose wage depends on their ability to sell the item. OH and we cannot forget the governments who collect the taxes from all these various steps necessary to get the item into the buyer's possession). 

now turn to the hand-knit item. fewer hands get paid when something is hand-made. the hours i put into the craft were not taxable hours, nor did they contribute to CPP, EI, etc etc. plus the socks boast no brand name which on-lookers can lust over. they're just plain, but incredibly durable socks, likely to last a long time if taken care of. no bells and whistles, but they're lovely just the same!

hmm...what was going to be a quick post has quickly turned into an essay! not my intention but here it is...

anyway, hope you enjoy the photos and hope your holiday was great :)

socks for my sis

dischcloths for the mums in my life
wool cabled hat for my other sis

Monday, December 20, 2010

baby it's cold outside (highs of -17 C)

toddler craft time!

who knew the holidays would be so much fun with a toddler? usually, i'm annoyed with the holiday season mostly due to the frenzy to buy a bunch of shit that nobody needs that costs an insane amount of money. you know how it is...people's shopping carts loaded with trinkets and plastic stuff that we all know is going to be going to the landfill within 6 months; the holiday line-ups and angry people totally stressed out by their lack of time and blind obligation to participate in the hurried mess of the season; large amounts of debt racked up in the name of proving to everyone just how much we love them. etc. 

all that non-sense aside, lets return to my opening question: who knew how much fun the season could be with a toddler? he has a way of bringing "christmas" back into christmas. being around him at this time of year, i experience all the magic of the holiday from the perspective of a child. to him, it's all new and all so incredibly fascinating! like just enjoying the weather (sleigh rides, yay!), enjoying the baking, the singing, and the lights. he can't get enough of the baking, the crafts (his absolute favourite), the decorating, and especially the cartoons (he loves the grinch and little cindy-loo-hoo). even the endless christmas songs, santa figurines and snowmen! and the shopping...he even likes being at the mall this time of year because of all the people. it's incredible just how much he loves the season...and how i'm starting to love it again too. 
delicious short-bread decorated by my monkey

i've attached some photos of the holiday fun we've been son can't get enough. what am i going to tell him when the new year hits and all the magic disappears? 
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"gingerman" hearts

hand-made ornaments!
more hand-made ornaments!

daddy and son cutting cookies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

i got gas...and electricty.

that’s right…gas and electricity are FINALLY hooked up at our house. yesss!!! that means we can pour some of our cement slabs (we’re doing all cement floors) and back-fill so that we can actually show people our house in the normal-person way…by walking in the front door, rather than convincing them that they wont die if they walk across a 2X10 board over an infinite, and not-so-safe-drop.

and we’re at lock-up! for those of you who have never built a house or have no knowledge of building mortgages (not to worry if you don’t…trust me, you do not want to join this exclusive elite simply to obtain this specialized knowledge), building mortgages work in a non-traditional way. that is, you do not get approved for a mortgage and then take the money and run; rather, you get approved for a mortgage and they gave you money in number of stages, or pay-outs…the size of the pay-out is proportional to your progress. in the case of “lock-up”, we have a standing structure, with a roof, doors and windows that “lock” (so teenagers can no longer throw parties in my house and paint obscenities on our framed walls…yes this happened) which the assessor deemed to be 44% of completion (no extra money was given for the obscene art painted by aforementioned teenagers, but no penalty either, yes!). 

so that means that next week, we’ll get 44% of our mortgage…that’s a lot of money! we expected to get only 40%...the extra 4% is a much-needed and awesome bonus. now we can pay off all the people who lent us money to get this project started (thanks mum, mother-in-law, visa and home equity, you’re fucking awesome. I owe you all a hand-made pair of socks.or interest, whatever you choose…keeping in mind that money doesn’t keep your feet warm. I’m just saying). and we'll even have money to move forward a bit! yay drywall! yay insulation!

anyway, it’s nice to have good news isn’t it?

I’ve been meaning to post photos of the mummy-toddler mitts I designed and made last month. I’m not going to bother putting up a pattern I don’t think…it’s so basic it’s embarrassing. what makes them awesome is the yarn! I bought it at some cute little yarn shop in Edmonton this summer (can’t remember the name, how lame is that). anyway, I was knitting a pair for myself and my son came up to me and said “mummy, i wants some too!”. so I made a pair for him as well. of course he refuses to wear them 78% of the time (no mitts mummy) because he hates to have anything cover his beloved thumb, which he sucks, oh, about 78% of the time. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

sailing on a sinking ship...oh and knitted stuff!

there’s nothing like hand-knitted baby stuff. my sister’s good friend had her first baby in the summer and she wanted to give them both the gifts of knitted goodness for winter. so she requested that i knit mum and baby hats. the trade was pretty awesome actually…given that my knitting queue is HUGE and my time is limited these days, my sister agreed to spend quality time with my toddler while i went off to various coffee shops (alone!) to knit her stuff!! i couldn’t think of a better exchange because i’ve found that it’s nearly impossible as a mum to go enjoy a coffee alone.

the adult pattern is a DROPS pattern and details can be found here on ravelry. the baby hat is a simple improvisation of the adult hat but with 2X2 ribbing and picked up stitches for the ear flaps.

in other news, the house building has slowed almost entirely to a halt. we’re having difficulties with our electrical pole as BC Hydro gave us one direction as to the proper height of the pole, and the building inspector is saying it’s incorrect (what?). our garage door took almost 4 months to come in rather than the initially projected 1 month (apparently the company sent it to oblivion and nobody to this day, knows where the original one is). trades people get busy and don’t show up for appointments and then don’t tell us…we often never hear from them again. city hall expects us to read their mind rather than give us clear instructions. the snow decides to fall in sheets the week we want to finish the roof. plumbers don't show up so excavators can't backfill when the subcontractors drop off doors/windows/siding thus making it impossible to drop off the material. we arrange cranes to unload shit and the company shows up with a truck instead. we make large orders of necessary supplies and half shows up. it goes on and on...

my advice: never build your own house! it’s the most stupid and irrational decision you will ever make in your entire life. it is voluntary torture. even with meticulous planning and thorough research, everything that could possibly go wrong, WILL. and unless you’re independently wealthy and are building it from top to bottom entirely by yourself (which wont happen unless you live in the middle of nowhere because the over-controlling and regulated system prevents anyone from doing anything themselves, short of wiping their own ass...), the vast majority of the people on whom you depend to get things done (everyone from banks, tradespeople, hardware stores, building supply companies, etc etc etc) will let you down…repeatedly. and they will all claim ignorance!! AND you can't keep their hands out of your pockets...

haha. i’m just tired of it all. it’ll be worth it in the end…right?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

sunday night wok...toddlers included!

tonight was stir-fry night. we just threw everything in the fridge into the wok and went from there. splash of fishsauce (well, more than a splash because i love fish sauce), soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce (why the heck not), various veggies and fruit (peppers are a fruit, right?). served with sticky white rice. my son is almost 2-and-a-half and is picky so i thought i’d share with any other parents-of-toddlers out there who may be reading how i get my son to eat wok-fried veggies and meat…i make a quesadilla! always fried, and always with sour cream and ketchup (kinda gross but he likes it) on the side. oh and stuffed with LOTS of cheese and even a little mayo.

cut it up small for toddler's quesadilla

lay on tortilla with slices of cheese

i had one pumpkin left from the garden and so made some pumpkin pie with it…huge success as always with my family :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

moving out...back home.

we just finished the process of moving back in with my mum…the home where I grew up. we’re building a new house, which is taking its sweet time to materialize, and my partner’s dad wanted to rent our existing house once we moved into our new home. but after facing much financial turmoil with the new build, we figured: why not get that ball rolling now and save a little extra money? lets move in with my mum! my father-in-law is moving in; we’re moving out.

many people would gawk at the idea of moving back in with a parent as adults. coincidentally, the cbc had a piece on the topic this morning and it turns out that many people in their twenties and even their thirties are finding themselves temporarily back in their childhood home with their parents for various reasons…usually with the intent of saving a bit of money, re-evaluating their goals and values and/or re-establishing themselves in some way.
our society places so much pressure on people to move out. it’s practically a rite of passage. some  might even argue that to move back in with parents after being away could be a sign of pathology…lets get this person on anti-depressants! however having multiple generations under one roof is common practice in many places in the world, and in spite of the drawbacks, there are lots of advantages.

take today for example. i wasn’t at work today (in contrast to my mum, sister and partner…all at work today) and I had time to make a nice meal. normally, my son and i would brave the grocery store together after his nap (a risky endeavor when you’re as big as a house pregnant and your son is 2). i would prepare the meal alone while he played alone, and then we would eat alone. when dh arrived home, he would eat alone while i would be madly cleaning up the kitchen alone while he finished eating. he would then prepare our son to go to bed while i tied up any other lose ends. on days we work (we work opposite shifts so as to avoid outsourced child-care) such a routine leads to much frustration some of the time, and utter exhauastion most of the time.

today, in contrast, my sister got home at 4 (she too recently moved back into the family home to pursue university education). she watched toddler while i efficiently went to the grocery store sans child. upon arriving at home, i promptly started preparing food while my sis entertained my son by watching arcade fire and tegan & sara videos online (my son loves watching musicians perform). part way through cooking, my mum arrived home (exhausted after a hard day) and had a chance to unwind, whereas normally, she’d be rushing to prepare something edible. while i cooked we had stimulating conversation about controversial topics in the news today (e.g. polygamy). meanwhile, sister and toddler come back and joined in the fun. we all ate dinner together (i much prefer meals to be a social event) and they helped clean (i HATE cleaning after preparing and cooking meals). meanwhile dh arrives home from work at 7:30 pm and eats while we’re all casually cleaning…not such a big task when everyone’s doing it. we all help put the toddler to bed calm and relaxed. FUN!!

anyway, there clearly are drawbacks to moving back into your childhood home under your parent’s roof. but there are so many benefits. my mum gets to see her grandson every day (his smile can melt away even the worst day’s stress). i get to have help with him while doing things i love (like cooking). my toddler gets to see a community of faces on a more regular basis than usual, rather than just see my tired old face all day long.

in today’s post, I could have easily bitched about the negatives of living at home, and would likely have elicited much sympathy from others. but where would that get me? why not challenge conventional beliefs about the way things “should be” and share the positive experiences? I look forward to having my own space again but until this happens, i will definitely make the best of our situation :)

here's some pictures of the chaos of moving. into my childhood weird. we even made a make-shift computer desk in our bedroom because there's simply no room for it everywhere else.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

big fish

EDIT: apparently the old link to the pattern does not work anymore so i have pasted the pattern directly onto the page. let me know if anything didn't transfer properly or if you have any questions. email me at or contact me through ravelry.  
exciting news. i've finally gotten my shit together and created my own knitting pattern! totally from scratch. my brother-in-law asked for a colour-work hat. i looked up patterns online and wasn't really happy with what i i just decided to create one myself! he's an avid fisherman, hence the idea to use fish. i'm posting it on ravelry for free! yay!

thanks to my lover for providing feedback on the fish grid. 

see below for pattern:

a simple colour-work pattern on superbulky yarn sure to satisfy the fisherman in your life. made with an acrylic/wool/rayon mixed yarn, this hat is machine washable and can be put in the dryer on low – a bonus when gifting to a no-nonsense kinda person (like my brother-in-law, the inspiration for the design and the recipient of one of these warm hats).

skills required/abbreviations
cast-on (i used long-tail)
k – knit
p – purl
m1 – make one increase
k2tog – knit two together
st st – stockinette stitch
pm – place marker
sm – slip marker


9.5 sts/4 inches in st st.


-          size 9 or 10 mm  16 inch circular and/or double pointed needles…whichever size gets gauge.
-          7 stitch markers.
-          3 skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (or equivalent). this pattern used less than one skein EACH of Grey Marble (MC, or main colour); Charcol (CC1, or contrast colour 1); and Fisherman (CC2, or contrast colour 2).
-          darning needle for weaving in ends.


-          cast on 48 sts in MC. join round, being careful not to twist stitches. pm to indicate beginning of next round.
-          k 6 rows in 1X1 rib (k 1, p1).
-          k 2 rows in st st.
-          switch to CC1, *k6, m1* repeat to end of row (56 st).

next step:

-          follow chart (9 rows make up the chart). repeat chart for a total of 4 times. when doing repeats of an unfamiliar chart, I find it helpful to place markers in between each repeat to ensure everything lines up properly.  also be sure to knit loosely when doing colour-work knitting.













-          switch to CC 1 and k one row
-          switch to MC and do 4 rows st st. on the 4th row *k8, pm* repeat to end of row.

decrease rounds

1)      *k6, k2tog, sm.* repeat to end of round. (49 sts).
2)        k.
3)      *k5, k2tog, sm.* repeat to end of round (42 sts).
4)        k.
5)      *k4, k2tog, sm.* repeat to end of round (35 sts).
6)      *k3, k2tog, sm.* repeat to end of round (28 sts).
7)      *k2, k2tog, sm.* repeat to end of round (21 sts).
8)      *k1, k2tog. remove markers as you go.* repeat to end of round (14 sts).

break yarn, leaving at least an 8 inch tail. pull through remaining stitches on needle and then secure by weaving on the wrong side of the hat. weave in any remaining ends throughout the work.


this is my first pattern (and my first attempt at drawing out a chart) and i wouldn’t be surprised if it is utterly senseless. email me at if you have any questions. this pattern is for personal use only, please ask my permission if you wish to knit this hat for profit.