Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh my Snow!

On Boxing Day, we left Montreal to go on a little trip to Southern Ontario to visit my in-laws. We caught the start of a snow storm that was working its way East at about 10pm. Fortunately for me, my husband did a lot of donuts and e-break sliding in his younger days (note to those in warmer climes: a donut is when you find an empty parking lot and purposely spin your car in circles, while an e-brake slide is when you pull your emergency brake so you can purposely slide on ice or fresh snow) so the snow didn't bother him.

In Southern Ontario they got a moderate snowfall, about 8 inches. In Montreal there was a lot more, apparently. We got home to lanes clogged with snow. We couldn't get into our front parking spot because the snow in front of our house looked like this:

So much for our plan of sneaking the kids into their beds without them waking up . . .  Christmas update and yearly round up, etc, etc. to follow sometime this week.

Happy New Years!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Definitely not a Baking Blog

So, I've been doing some Christmas baking in the last week or so, and it has reminded me of why, although I bake all the time, I don't write a food blog.

First, there is the fact that my kids mostly like the same three kinds of cookies. I don't know how many posts I could do about chocolate chip cookies, molasses cookies and oatmeal muffins. It might get a little stale.

Second, there is the fact that there is anywhere from between one and four "helpers" with me when I bake. This means that decorating often looks like this:

 And turns out like this:
 While it is fun to eat these sugar cookies (okay, it WAS fun to eat them . . . Christmas cookies never last until Christmas around here) and it was fun to make them, they're not exactly photogenic. And to me, that's okay. The making and eating was the part that matters.

Then, there is what happens when I try a new recipe. They were supposed to look like these ones , but instead mine were these giant, strangely shaped stripe-y things.
 Of course, these were meant for a cookie exchange, so I cut the rest of the batches in half and formed them into nicer, more elegant cookies for my lovely mom friends:
 I baked a double batch of sugar cookies, in order to make the above pepermint cookies and a batch of normal sugar cookies, as I thought they would be fun for Emma to throw icing and sprinkles on. They were, but I decided that the problem with sugar cookies is that they're not really worth the amount of calories they cost.
 Don't get me wrong. I ate these. I ate many. But they are more of a conduit of icing than something that I would normally eat for its own sake. I think next year if I'm going to buy and use and consume that much butter again, I'm going to make shortbread.

Fortunately for my sons' teachers, I also decided to make some of this peppermint bark. This stuff if really good, and I like to think it at least somewhat compensates for having to teach my children.
We also made our yearly batch of gingerbread, but it was  a bit of a bust. I used margerine in a recipe that called for butter and the dough was so crumbly that we could hardly get our shapes to stay together long enough to get to the pan. I told them to pretend to be thrilled, even though our dough was falling apart:
 The highlight of this baking disaster (aside from getting to sit on the table while wearing chain mail) was getting to try out our ninjabread men cookie cutters. Andrew (mr. white-belt-with-one-yellow-stripe) was excited that the ninjas are actually doing poses he's learning in Tae Qwon-Do.

 I might consider making a second batch over Christmas holidays if we get too stir crazy. As an alternative to, say, hitting our brother in the head with things to see what hurts the most or teaching the baby how to defend himself from light sabre blows.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dress up sewing!

Those of you who know me in real life or have been reading for a while, know that I love making dress up clothes. My friend Sarina asked me to make a Link costume for her son for Christmas, and of course I said yes!

When we went to get fabric, we found this fun shiny jersy that looks like chain mail. We got some for Sarina's costume, but I also picked up a couple of metres for my boys. This was my test run on my guestimated pattern (as her son is the same age and size as Aaron). Aaron's tunic is just chain mail - it is supposed to have two arms, but when I only had one finished, Aaron decided that it was way cooler in a rock star way (I guess rock stars wear asymetrical clothing?) with just one sleeve, so here is his one sleeved chain mail. 

Its funny, because when I look at these, all I see is that string on the sleeve that I didn't clip yet.
A few nights ago I got the real costume cut out and today, while Emma and Owen both napped for 2 hrs, I got it stitched together. There was enough fabric to make Sarina's toddler girl a Tinkerbell costume, too.
Now I have to make a hat and a belt. My first attempt at a hat is awesome, but too small:
It fits Owen perfectly, and has that great float-out-the-back effect.
I think that by just making it about an inch bigger, it will be perfect, too. I may have to make about four more of these hats for my kids because they are great dress up hats, and take about 6 min. to make.

This kind of sewing is so fun for me, and the results are always so satisfying. I really should make more dress up clothes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Month of No Finishes

Um, yeah. I meant to finish three quilts in November. I also meant to post this blog post on about the third of December. But a few things happened:

A certain middle child's head went right through here, fortunately (?) hitting the wood and causing the glass to shatter away from said head.

Someone started eating with a vengence -
That same someone started moving just enough to cause constant sweeping to happen. Also all the post Halloween wrappers had to be searched out and disposed of before they got into this little mouth. Rubber boots - no problem, at least they're not chokey.

Hordes of dangerous undead legos kept taking over my sewing desk:
 And SOMEONE else decided to import a motorcycle from the US, which required a week of solo parenting from yours truly.
Not to mention a lovely visit I had to my friend Sharon's house, which was followed by a chest cold that knocked me out for the best part of a week. And that pretty much sums up November around here.

I did get ONE finish done. This little purse sized taggie blanket.
I was experimenting with a technique for making wonky four patches or patchwork strips that I might use in my free pieced quilt. I think its going to work out fine. And Owen approves of my experiment, too.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Photo frustration!

Arg! Can anyone tell me what I need to do so that I can get my Flikr photos over here on my blog?

I always end up uploading everything there and here seperately, which is ok, but now Google is telling me that my Picasa web album (that I didn't even know I had) is full, and I have to pay them money and use a Google wallet to do it (why, Google, can't I use paypal? If it had a paypal link, I would have just given you guys the $4 a month).

I have tried many, many times to upload things from Flikr, but it always tells me that the URL that Flikr gave me is not a real URL, or that its protected. But I know that its not, because my photos are public and I even changed the licence to creative commons on a photo to try to get it to upload.

I'm sure some of you must transfer photos from Flikr to you blogs - can you tell me how you've got around this?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Knitting Finishes!

My goal to knit a hat for each child is almost finished! I noticed that October was such a frantic month that I did not finish my post about Emma's hat, even though she has been wearing it since (Canadian) Thanksgiving over  a month ago. In fact, it seems to already be lost, though a thorough hunt through the van and under the couch will need to be done to confirm that. In any case, I've really enjoyed knitting all of these hats, and have tackled a different new challenge with each one so far.

 This was actually the second hat I made, and I showed you the start of it back here. My sizing was WAY off, and this hat, which was originally for Owen, fit Aaron. That was okay, because Aaron wanted one too. The yarn is Sweet Georgia Superwash. It is dyed in Canada, which is great, and it is really soft and dreamy to work with. The pattern is called the Bimple, by Wooly Wormhead, and more details about it are on my shiny new-ish ravelry page.
 It is super cute, and I had fun learning to make a stitch in between two stitches to make the increase in this hat. Also the little point is adorable, and it is long enough to be warm in the cold winters we have here. Aaron loves it, but he can never tell which way is up, so I tried to add penguin buttons so he would know the front from the back.
 My button - adding skills need work - they lasted one day. In any case, Owen needed a matching hat. His is not quite finished - it still needs blanket stitching around the edges and ties (in orange, of course). It fits him right now, so I fear it will be cute but short lived. I have a fleece hand me down hat for the deepest darkest days of winter that will do when he grows out of this one.
 As you can see , Owen was happy with his hat, and he loved that it matched his big brother's hat.
 Emma's kitty hat also turned out pretty well. It has a knit-purl-knit-purl and then reverse pattern, which made for tedious knitting and there are some spots near the top where I lost track of which row I was on where there are big strips of ribbing in the middle of the hat. But she likes it, and it still looks cute, so I'm not too worried. And as I said, it may be lost already, so we will be knitting her something else in the near future (I'm thinking a bubblegum pink Bimple to match her brothers?)
 The poitns on this hat were really cute, and I learned how to do alternate cable cast-on and kitchener stitch with this hat, so it was a fun learning experiment - see that bit in the middle of the back that doesn't match the pattern? that's what I was talking about. This yarn was Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label, and it was also really great to work with, and I loved this colour. It is a rather decadent purple for a two year old, but none the less, it was a cute hat.
 I love my daughter's sense of style these days. It just makes me grin whenever I see her.
Today when we were getting ready for church she declared, "I will wear a new dress to church today and I will look BEAUTIFUL."  We didn't have a new dress for her to wear, so she settled for a long sleeve shirt, her favorite summer dress plus a skirt plus striped tights. A girl after my own heart.

Tutorial: How To Patch Pants

This little tutorial will show you how to patch a pair of pants. The decorative embroidery floss is not necessary -- you could use regular thread instead, but it sure is cute on little boy pants.

You will need a pair of pants with a hole, sharp scissors, thread, a sharp needle, a piece of cotton fabric, and a piece of fusible webbing. If you want to make a colourful stitch around the edge, also get embroidery floss and a bigger embroidery needle (make sure its a pointy one).

The cotton fabric can be quilting cotton or a piece of an old shirt. Make sure its not stretchy -- like t-shirt fabric. Fusible webbing can be found in any fabric store -- just ask the helpful staff. You only need about 5 or 6 inches, unless you have a lot of patching to do.

Wash the pants. Before we put the patch on, we need to mend the pants so that the fabric is strong enough to hold the patch.

Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end.

To tie a knot, make a loop and push the end of the thread through the loop. Pull it tight. You will probably need to knot the thread two or three times to get a big enough knot to stay.

Push the needle into the pants just below one side of the rip, were the fabric is still all together.
Pull it out at the edge of the rip, and then weave your needle in and out of the strings left by the rip. Make sure the needle comes out for the last time on the other end of the rip, where you are pack to undamaged fabric. Pull tight. Turn the needle around, and do the same thing, starting from the other side. Go back and forth, weaving the thread through and tightening it before each turn until you come to the end of the rip. Then tie off your thread (I explain how to do this below).

You rip will now look something like this.

Now, but a piece of fusible webbing slightly longer and wider than the size of your stitched up rip. Lay the shiny, slightly textured side down on your patching fabric. Iron in place, following the directions that come with the webbing.

If this has been done properly, it should stick to the fabric like this.

Let cool and peel off the paper. The webbing should now be shiny and tacky. Cut the patch to the size you want it.

Place the patch over your mended rip. (Do you like my funky blue nail polish?)

Iron the patch in place. Make sure the iron is not too hot, and that you put lots of pressure on it.

If you are feeling lucky, you could stop here and let the patch be. But the directions on the webbing say "gentle wash only" and that doesn't give me a lot of confidence that its going to survive a day in the life of a little boy's pants. So I'm going to stitch it in place, just to make sure.

If you want to use normal thread to stitch it down, just re-thread your needle and tie a knot at the end the same as before. If you want to use embroidery floss, take an emboidery needle and some co-ordinating embroidery floss and do the same.

You might want to put a book or some cardboard inside the pants leg so you don't accidentally sew the patch to both the front and the back of your pants, thus causing a mess and much cursing and grumbling and stitch picking. Want to know why I'm researching Montreal? I'll tell you later.

Starting from inside the pants, push your needle through the fabric about a 1/4 inch (5cm) from the edge of the patch.

Pull the needle through, and push it through the fabric so it goes in and out again.

Pull through to complete the stitch. Continue to stitch along all the edges of the patch. You might want to do this in a few sessions, as it is hard work for your fingers.

When you are done, flip your pants inside out, and push the needle through to the inside of the pants.

Now we will tie the floss off. Do a small stitch in the back, but don't quite pull it all the way through. Instead leave a little loop. Slide your needle through this loop and pull the thread through to make a knot.

Pull tight to make a knot. Trim your knots.

Congratulations, you're done! Good work.