Friday, April 27, 2007

Hi, blog readers. Mooky here.

Will this semester ever end for Alison? Her last seminar paper was due two days ago, but she got an extension till Monday, so she continues to neglect me (and, let's face it, you a little bit). Honestly, this photo of me -- freaking adorable as it is -- was taken in February. I am looking incredibly handsome today, but she will not take my picture. "Too busy have to work blah blah brabrabra..."

Anyway, she claims to hope that you have a nice weekend, but really, would she even notice if you didn't? Speaking of noticing, have you noticed how handsome I am? Feel free to notice it again. I will now go outside and eat some grass.

(a.k.a. Mookus-Bookus, Mookopolis, "Heeeey, Mookalinas!")

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baby quilt top

Before you think I'm totally slacking off, let me state that I am indeed working diligently on a term paper this week, not sewing. I actually did this piecing and sewing within days of this quilt kit arriving in the mail back in February, but I wasn't able to photograph it in my dark winter house. Now that spring is here, I realized I could pull out the quilt top, hang it on the line, and show it (off) to you!

It took me a few tries to arrange the squares in a pleasing way. The kit included 64 cut squares, which I spread out and moved around and around and around. I'm happy with the outcome, expecially because this is my first attempt at making a quilt. With all the squares involving white, pink, and/or red, it was not always easy for me to decide on a square's "value"; in general, I tried to alternate light and dark. Now that I look at it all put together, I can see two or three squares that I'd like to move, but I think it works overall.

I only swapped out two of the squares, since the fabrics included were pretty awesome. But years ago I'd thrifted a piece of really fun pink fabric with a print of little boys and girls baking, and I thought, what better place to use some of it than in a baby quilt? So I cut two squares of it and replaced two kit squares that I wasn't in love with. The quilt back is a piece of pink-and-white striped cotton, and the binding is red with tiny white polka dots. I'm planning to machine quilt, just because when I get around to working on it, I'll be impatient. (Although looking at the purl bee tutorials comparing hand- and machine-quilting -- part 1: cutting, part 2: piecing, part 3: quilting -- is actually tempting me to do it by hand.)

In case I didn't explain this before, I'm not making this baby quilt for any particular baby; I just thought it would be a good, manageable size for a first quilt, and I like the colours and fabrics.

I read so many blog posts over the weekend praising the sunshine! It's so great to feel this huge collective love of spring, from all of us who have been waiting for it for sooo long. It's 23 degrees here today, and the forecast is for 24! (This means that I'm very happy, and I have nothing to wear.)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

First flowers!

Where yesterday there was only dirt and a few green shoots, today there are these purply-blue flowers! And I swear they're multiplying as the day goes on. How did I find them? Well, I was out hanging my wash on the clothesline, of course. Because that's what I do in the *s*p*r*i*n*g*! Smell ya later, winter.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Quick sock recipe

I finished these socks last week. They were super quick and easy to knit with fatter-than-usual yarn (sport weight?) on 3.0mm needles (about 7.5 sts./inch). I don't know what the yarn is -- Mia sent it to me ages ago, and she doesn't even remember it. All I know is that it's wool, and very soft. Maybe not the best choice for socks (too soft?), but I don't know what else I'd use it for. Socks can get away with colour combos that are fun and sassy but not necessarily the most ... tasteful. Know what I mean?

Anyway, here's the recipe for these quick house socks:

   - cast on 54 sts.; join

   - work 5 rounds in garter stitch starting with a purl row (that's 3 ridges), keeping first and last 2 sts in st. st. to avoid that weird garter-in-the-round jog

   - knit 40 rounds

   - work Eye of Partridge heel flap on 26 sts (making sure the start of your round is now in the middle of that flap) for 30 rows

   - turn heel:
        - sl1, k15, ssk, k1, turn
        - sl1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn
        - sl1, k to 1 st. before gap, ssk, k1, turn
        - sl1, p to 1 st. before gap, p2tog, p1, turn
        - work last 2 rows until all heel stitches have been taken care of, ending with WS row
        - k across 16 heel sts.

   - pick up 15 sts. going up the side of the flap, k across 28 instep sts., pick up 15 sts. on the way down the other side of the flap

   - dec. 2 sts. every other round to get back down to 54 sts. total (if you've ever knit a sock, you know what I mean here)

   - k all rounds until the length of the foot is 2 inches short of finished (for me, this was 45 rounds); on the last round, k2tog at each side (so you have a total of 52 sts.)

   - using the 26 sts. on the top half of the foot, work a short-row toe (I worked mine so that there were 8 sts. across the toe tip and 9 loops on each side)

   - use kitchener stitch to graft the 26 toe sts. to the 26 foot-bottom sts. that have been waiting; weave in ends at top and toe

OK, you caught me: I haven't woven in my ends at the cuffs, so I just tucked them into the sock for these photos; hence a little bumpiness there. But there you have it. A few evenings of TV watching per sock, and you'll be done.

Well! I was only planning on posting photos, not writing up a pattern. (I expect comments from Carolyn and Chris telling me to get back to work!!) I also must say that I was expecting a few more comments on my last post, re: Merino Style. Perhaps I intimidated you with my GIANT HAND! Muah-ha-ha... (So today I present my Giant Feet -- don't be frightened, fair readers!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Like, totally

I'm loving the tubular cast-on at Blustery's bottom edge:

This takes a garment to another level, don't you think? So professional. (Well, once it's blocked, anyway.) Blustery's designer, Anna, has a very clear tutorial -- with lots of photos -- for doing a tubular cast-on. (She also has one for a tubular (sewn) bind-off, which I'll need to consult later in this pattern.)

I've finished knitting the left front of the vest. I don't plan to keep up this pace, though, since I have lots of work to do. But I couldn't sleep last night, so I finally got out of bed, poured a glass of wine, curled up on the couch with Mooky, and worked on the lovely golden-sugar stockinette.

I'm enjoying the KP Merino Style; the fabric is smooth, soft, and light. I anticipate pilling, as with any merino, but I'm extra wary of the KnitPicks since I recently had to throw away a pair of socks I'd made with their Sock Garden. I think the yarn was just too soft -- the pilling was out of control, and I ended up with big holes in both heels. So I wouldn't use their merino again for socks, but I think it will make a nice vest. Have you used this yarn for a sweater? On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is no pilling at all and 10 is a snarled mess, how does the Merino Style hold up?

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's so windy outside that my house is shaking, and it's even getting a little blustery inside. About six inches of Blustery, to be exact.

My yarn (KnitPicks Merino Style) arrived this morning, as I was heading out to school to hand in a paper. (Yay! One down, two to go.) I cast on when I got home and knit for two hours. The colour (nutmeg) is actually warmer than it appears in this photo -- it's the colour of golden brown sugar.

p.s. Happy birthday to my big brother, Tom!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Yesterday afternoon was another one of those can't-get-to-work-till-I-spend-some-time-out-of-the-house afternoons. And it was a gray and gloomy day. The kind of day where it seems like a good idea to make fries your main meal.

Bill had never had poutine before; I have a vague memory of eating it on a high school trip to Quebec City, but I had already quit eating meat by the time I first came to Montreal, and vegetarian poutine had simply not been an option back then. (I did order a poutine sans sauce once, very early on, but it wasn't really worth trying to explain myself to the Quebecois poutine-serving guy -- plus it was only fries and cheese curds, which just isn't right.)

We headed out to La Banquise, which is on the Plateau, close to Parc Lafontaine. Supposedly this is some of the best poutine in the city, so we figured it was the perfect place to break us in. We went in and sat down, and looked at the 20-ish different varieties of poutine on the menu. When our waitress came over, I said, "I have some questions. For a vegetarian--"

"There is nothing. Vegetarian. Here," she said, punctuating each word by poking our tabletop with her index fingers, "except the lettuce."

Au revoir, La Banquise. Next stop: Mondo Fritz on Blvd. St-Laurent. It's by no means a vegetarian restaurant, but the poutine sauce contains no meat or dairy products, so it's very vegetarian-friendly. It is not, however, the most "authentic" poutine experience: they serve grated cheese instead of squeaky cheese curds, and of course the peppercorn sauce. But it was so tasty! I couldn't finish my giant portion, but I got pretty close. Bill enjoyed his, too, but then he also coined the slogan "Poutine: Once in a Lifetime." I know people who eat poutine more than once a week, and I can't imagine that, but every couple of months I'd be happy to go back to Mondo Fritz for a big messy plate of it.

Since I didn't take my camera, I'll point you to a poutine Flickr group (yes, really) -- guaranteed to either whet or destroy your appetite.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Insult received, injury added

When I left my house yesterday just before noon, it was raining. On my way to school, the rain got a bit sleet-y. As I sat in class all afternoon, I could see that it was full-on snowing outside, and that the snow was piling up on the ground. This was not good -- not only because it's the freaking middle of April, but because I was in no way dressed for a snowy day. Insulting!

When I finally left school at about 10:00 p.m., wearing ridiculously inadequate Birkenstock shoes and a raincoat (both fine choices when I'd put them on, I swear), I headed out the front door of the Arts Building, carefully went down the front steps, and upon reaching the street, promptly slipped and fell on my ass. Owwww.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This little piggy went to market

I went to Jean-Talon Market this afternoon, and it was like a vacation from winter! I love going to the market, not just for the produce, but for some of the crazy peripheral bits that remind me of being in an Asian market: fifteen different things plugged into an outlet, with wires hanging all over the place; music coming from a crappy radio that's hanging from the wall with rope; prices on hand-lettered signs; just the general jumbliness of things. All that stuff that makes the market different from a big grocery store.

Does anyone actually eat those bunnies made of maple sugar? Dentists must love seeing those for sale. Just looking at them makes me crave a glass of milk.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I got nuthin'

I've been spending my days in my office or at the library, writing papers. If all goes well, this term will be finished for me on April 25. It may even be spring by then! (Light snowflakes swirling around in the air today.) I encountered these two characters this afternoon outside the library. We're not allowed to take a cup of coffee into the building, so after a few hours of research I had to pack up all my materials, put on my coat, and go outside for a coffee break -- it's cruel and unusual. I may be projecting, but to me these gulls look pretty tired of winter.

Oh, I may have ordered some KnitPicks Merino Style in Nutmeg so I can whip up a Blustery vest. That is all.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This is not a democracy -- it's a yarnocracy

I swatched for Thermal, and I think I will knit it after all -- but later. I really do have a ton to do in the next three weeks, so it's just not a good time to start a sweater. Instead, I need a project I can easily pick up and put down, and one that involves lots of quick gratification. And I have just the thing...

While thrifting a few weeks ago, I came upon something very exciting: a giant collection of old tapestry yarn. You know -- those little 15-yard bunches of colour-fast, moth-proof 100% wool. (I don't even know what it's meant for. Needlepoint?) If it had been a proper thrift shop, the whole pile would've been in a garbage bag for five bucks, but it was V@lue Vill@ge, so the huge amount of wool had been separated into a hundred separate little overpriced bags. I spent about fifteen dollars on five different colours.

I knew I wanted to crochet another blanket, this time with a vintage (1940s-ish) palette. Lots of bloggers have been crocheting granny squares, but I didn't want to use my 1930s/1940s colours in squares that make me think of the 1970s. I looked online at various afghan squares and settled on a pattern called Cluster Flower Square. I was very excited to find fifteen little skeins in the perfect shade of Depression-era jadeite green, and I want that to be the main colour. So I crocheted a few squares, using the green as the border around the centre circle. I think if I also use the green to join all the squares, it'll look a bit like a green blanket with multicoloured polka dots.

So far, I'm very excited about this. My first crocheted blanket -- which is this close to being done; it just needs a border -- was a great project for using up leftovers, and it's bright and colourful and cheerful, but I adore the colours of this vintage tapestry yarn. However, each crocheted square uses just over one little skein of green, and I only had fifteen. Only one thing to do: I went back to le boutique V.V. hoping there'd be more.

Good news: there was plenty of my green left -- about twenty wee skeins, plus (jackpot!) a big ball of the stuff. So I'll be able to make a green blanket after all, plus I grabbed a bag with single skeins of pink and a darker green, which I can throw into a few of the circles. Plus, I had a visit from the thrift fairy, who confirmed my crafty choices by leaving a special treat for me in the kitchen aisle:

Yep, a little FireKing jadeite bowl ($1.99), which is filled here with the contents of another $1.99 bag: a dozen nice old wooden spools of cotton and silk thread, and two strips of antique crochet tatted trim. Oh, I love it when a thrift comes together.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Daytripping: Les Laurentides

I planned to spend all of yesterday doing schoolwork, I really did. (Just like every day until at least April 20.) But at about 1 p.m. I couldn't stand being in the house anymore. It was a beautiful day, and I just needed a break. I decided that I could justify taking the rest of the afternoon off to clear my mind, and I'm so glad that I did.

Bill and I hit the road and headed north (northwest?) to the Laurentians. We hadn't been out of the city since last October, when we drove to London; we stopped in Laval for road coffees and then drove about 60 kilometres to St-Sauveur. (The photo above is of L'Eglise St-Sauveur.) It's a small ski-resort town, very touristy, the sidewalks jammed with sporty people and their enormous dogs. We walked in the sunshine for a while and then got back in the car and drove another five kilometres to Morin Heights. We spent a glorious hour there having a pint on the terrasse of the local pub. I wasn't even wearing a jacket -- just a sweater and a scarf. Glorious.

So, yesterday was a big breath of fresh air (literally!), but today I'm back at my desk and back to my work. Sigh! I need to keep reminding myself that after I hand in these three papers, I can have lots of days like yesterday.