Monday, July 30, 2012

Pumpkin and Squash Invade; Or, I Totally Should Have Learned This By Now

Gardening update!
Just a quickie, I promise.

Firstly, what the hell, man?!

See those vines? That's a grand total of one pumpkin plant and one butternut squash plant. Holy creeping crap.

I'm super stoked that they're so happily growing. I'm a little concerned that they'll:
1) take over and kill the neighbour's garden. And cat (though the Orange Cat of Strawberry Death totally has it coming to him) and maybe even my neighbour. Them's some powerful pumpkins.

2) the new nemesis, the cucumber beetle, will decide one night to just demolish the whole thing. Then you'll get this horrible image of me, on my knees in sorrow, crying out with arms raised, "you evil insects from hell!"

3) my oh-so-clever idea of growing them vertically will fail catastrophically, and I'll just end up with under-ripe fruit falling from the vine and making me supersad.

This is not news. It totally happened last year too.

But then there's the garlic!


This stuff is drying out. I'm hoping to have a great little garlic braid to show off in a few weeks, fingers crossed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Indie Designer Revisited

PhotobucketDesigner: Elizabeth Wolden
Blog: Cotton Gin and Tonic
Rav ID: BethWolden
Some Great Designs: BethWolden's Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: October 1, 2010

Last time I profiled this designer I wrote that I "I love love love (times three, that is. To the factor of awesome!) the whimsy in her designs."

That is so still true.

Check it:

Henrietta Maria Cardigan.
How cute is that? It's polished and adorable, retro and wearable. And, I must say, styled wonderfully in the pattern pics.
The prospect of learning to properly embroider on knitted fabric is made much less intimidating (at least, to me) if I have this beauty as an FO in sight!

Featured in last October's Knit Magazine, the Anne of Bohemia pullover is a beautiful, simply-cut sweater with gorgeous, tapestry-like colourwork detail at the neckline.

She's also published an ebook with men's patterns. The Old Rice Hotel Cap is part of this book. It's a great combination of her fanciful style applied to a men's (or unisex) knit. The very handsome woven plaid brim makes me think there's hope for my holiday knitting list: maybe I can knit something my brother would actually like to wear!

And for the sheep fans out there, BethWolden has the pretty Meta Set. A pair of mitts and hat decorated with lovely lovely sheep colourwork!

Check out her blog: she's got some really awesome lino cuts on there. Fab knitting art.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Romper Risk: Danger Averted!

We last left our super-seamstress in a pile of distress and fabric scraps, crying aloud at the wrath of the sewing gods for their pernicious whims of fabric fail.
What with one thing and another (one being my dad's "looking" at my sewing machine, the other being my impatience), I don't have all that much photographic evidence of my triumph over the super small 1970s jumpsuit-cum-romper pattern.

What I do have is this silly photo, taken mere days ago, displaying the risky sewing endeavour at its finale.

I ended up leaving the back of the romper open; artistically open. As in, I totally meant to leave it open like that and hanging loose and now you can see my back and possibly even bra band.

What I'm hoping is that I get up the time/energy to stitch a couple clips on the back to hide the aforementioned unmentionables.

If you'll recall (and why wouldn't you? This is Very Important Stuff here, people!) I have another few meters of fabric earmarked for romper fun.

I'm hoping to have another one ready to show you, fully equipped with a back and everything.

In summation:

-rompers are cool
-everyone should have a romper
-everyone should also have a dad who will give your sewing machine a scary look and then get it to behave
-beware the temptation to be lazy and just add ties to make a closure for the back of your romper. One at the top is ok. More than that and you've now entered hospital robe territory.

Only time will tell if I'll have some more romper triumph to show.

Until then, please enjoy this video, highlighting the King of the Jumpsuits (rompers).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nothing Says Cool Like a Well Organized Nail Polish Collection

photo2-7That's right, I called it a collection.
A functional, useable, living and thriving collection.

What you may not know about me is I'm something of a nail polish enthusiast. It's one of my ways of chilling out. You've got to sit still and concentrate to do your nails. I find it to be a great time-out from a day, nice way to unwind.

Also really great to indulge a few of my personal quirks.
Namely: attention to detail, fixation on colour, and an unending quest to organize everything within the controllable realm of my life.

I can't take credit for this particular organizational system. It was, in the main, one of my friend's ideas. But here I present it to you, just in case you too are a detail-oriented, organizationally-focused, nail polish enthusiast.

Making your Nail Polish Collection Functional

Define its space.
I went out and bought a bunch of small, clear plastic bins (with lids).
This: keeps the polish together, allows you to see what's in each box, and keeps them mostly dust-free. Especially when the only place you have to store your stash is under the bed.
With a guard lovebird.

Categorize and label.
Picked up some dollar-store small white labels and a sharpie. The numbering system goes from 100 (red) all the way up to 800 (brown) and 900 (top/base coats, sheers, etc...)
Within each colour you can then number 100, 101, 102 and so on, grouping like-colours together.


Create the book.
I love a good blank notebook. I counted out my polish and spaced out the tabs according to the collection size.
Each wee label has two dabs: one shows the "in the bottle" colour, and one is a swipe to show what one coat of the polish will give you.
The book also has space for notes, like "goes on very thin" or "crackle polish".


Enjoy your categorizing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Look!


As you may have noticed, I've been tooling around with the look of the blog.
This is still something of a work in progress, so don't be surprised if it's changed up a bit soon.
I'd also like to hear what you think of the new look!
I really dig yellow, and it's awfully appropriate (canaries and all), but am trying to decide on juuuust the right shade of it.

There's also the new logo I've designed.
I was inspired by this adorable photo of my great little guy Butters, lo those many years ago.

Butters on yarn - on blog Pictures, Images and Photos

Finally, I've set up a shiny, new email address (mostly because gmail is just so functional!)

You can now reach me at gmail here: canaryknitsdesigns.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cheese Dreamin; Or, I Get All Scientific & Stuff. Cheshire.

I'd never tried a Cheshire cheese before, and so was keen to see how this particular part of my cheese/dream study went over.

This is what the study said:
If you just want a good night’s sleep without too many dreams, then choose lovely crumbly Cheshire . In this category, over half of all nights were dreamless, while participants stated that 76% of all Cheshire-induced sleeps were either “quite good” or “very good”.

Cheese I ate: Caerphilly, Welsh
My Score: Meh. I slept ok, just about as good as usual. Did dream, though had a hell of a time trying to remember the dream. My half-asleep notes? "yarn, taking tests, felt like high school".
Hmmm. While the taste of the cheese was just fine, I'm not turning to this one for a good night's sleep.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cheese Dreamin; Or, I Get All Scientific & Stuff. Brie Dreamin.

PhotobucketPart the third in my Very Scientific cheese-dream experiment was the ever delicious Brie.

This is what the study said:
British Brie caused all participants to sleep very well, but dreams varied between males and females; women tended to experience very nice dreams, such as Jamie Oliver cooking dinner in their kitchens, or relaxing on a sunny beach. By contrast, the men who ate Brie experienced rather odd, obscure dreams, such as driving against a battleship, or having a drunken conversation with a dog.

Cheese I ate: Fleurmier de Charlevoix Double Cream, Quebec

Dreamed of... nothing. Or, more accurately, I can't recall any dreams I might have had. I wish I had experienced a dream as the survey says a brie is wont to give me.

Last cheese: Cheshire.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Michele DuNaier
Rav ID: MADuNaier
Some Great Designs: MADuNaier's Rav Designer Page

I'm going to do something a little different this week.

First off, this designer works mainly in crochet. See the beautiful and seasonally-appropriate Dahlia - A Summer Cardigan, pictured here.

Second, MADuNaier has kindly provided me with some great insight into her process, motivations, background and aspirations.

Read here below; but don't forget to follow the link above to see her other wonderful patterns available on ravelry.

" grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was about 8 or 9, but I didn’t quite get the hang of it until I was in my 20’s. She was quite an “expert amateur.” Back in the old country she was exempt from manual farm labor because she could knit an entire thigh-length stocking in an afternoon.

I am a much better crocheter than knitter (see the Notes in my “First Love” pattern. My crochet patterns are consequently much more popular, so I have been fooling around mostly with my “first love” (crochet) for the last few months.

I have somehow managed to produce 19 patterns in about 15 weeks since I began March 27, 2012. Not quite sure how that happened, but when I worked in software design it was the same thing: doing-something-I-loved-as-fast-as-I-could. (I guess I am rather obsessive…)

The more I design, the more ideas I get. Each design spawns about 3 or 4 more ideas. Despite being a rapid crocheter/designer, I still can’t keep up with my ideas, which is very frustrating.

I have to thank my Rav friend/editor/test-crocheter, EffinEffie, who patiently listens to my design ideas and blathering, is willing to read anything I write, and test-crochet just about anything I dream up.

My goals are to keep designing, start a blog, get a website with my BFF, LDearie (another Rav designer), and maybe get a few things published. Maybe even a book… Give me time, it’s only been 3 1/2 months!"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cheese Dreamin; Or, I Get All Scientific & Stuff. Cheddar.

I was really looking forward to this part of my cheese/dream study. Cheddar is (probably) my favourite cheese (but don't make me choose).

What the study said:
Cheddar -eating participants tended to dream of celebrities, ranging from the participant’s family sitting in a pub with Jordan, to a Glaswegian old firm football match with Gazza and Ally McCoist. Ashley from Coronation Street also featured, as did the cast of Emmerdale - and one lucky girl helped to form a human pyramid under the supervision of Johnny Depp.

Cheese I ate: Perron 7 year old Cheddar, Raw Cow's Milk, from Quebec
My Score: Definitely cheese!
While my dream was, yet again, filled with the glorious assault of random oddness (notes I made in my just-awake stupor include "museum wrecked, riding the bus, people disappearing into washing machines, watching a movie and - my favourite - made eggs and they were getting dry"), part of that "riding the bus" bit had me sitting a few seats down from Kanye West.
This is weird, but I think it might be because I just watched that episode of South Park with the "gay fish" joke.

Next cheese: Brie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cheese Dreamin; Or, I Get All Scientific & Stuff. Part Stilton.

In continuation of the Very Scientific cheese-dream experiment, the second up was Stilton.

This is what the study said:
Stilton -eating participants enjoyed their sleep too – over two thirds had good sleep experiences during five out of the seven nights. However, if you want some vivid or crazy dreams, the King of British cheeses is the one for you – particularly if you are female. While 75% of men in this category experienced odd and vivid dreams, a massive 85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most bizarre dreams of the whole study – although none were described as bad experiences. Highlights included talking soft toys, lifts that move sideways, a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children, dinner party guests being traded for camels, soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns and a party in a lunatic asylum.

Cheese I ate: Stilton Colston Basset, English

My Score: Half Cheese. Well, maybe two-thirds.
Here's the notes I made after waking up: a friend of mine showing me her new high heels, graduation, driving on a curve, flying off and thinking I'm going to die.
So, I think that qualifies as a bizarre dream. Sort of bizarre.

Next cheese: Cheddar.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Keep Up To Date: Mailing List

PhotobucketJust a quick announcement today.

I've started a mailing list.

Joining this will give you:

-breaking news: you get the inside scoop on Canary Knits designs before anyone else
-new patterns: get the first sneak peek at new designs
-special offers: coupons and giveaways available only for list members

If you'd like to join, just email me at canaryknitsdesigns at gmail.

Please note: I will NOT be sharing your email addresses with anyone at all in any way.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cheese Dreamin; Or, I Get All Scientific & Stuff


Recently brought to my attention was this study, from the British Cheese Board in 2005.

I like me a good cheese, and a very worthy cause such as testing out this study is certainly a reason to take 20 g of cheese before bed (and call your local fromagerist in the morning).

I might not be the best candidate for this study (or, conversely, a GREAT one). I don't usually remember my dreams, and most of the ones I can remember are rather convoluted and/or extremely banal (have you ever dreamed of walking to the mail box and posting a letter?)

Regardless, I'm moving ahead with this cheese/dream testing, and I'll be presenting my Very Scientific results over the next few days.1

First up: a delicious Red Leicester

This is what the study has to say:
Red Leicester proved to be brilliant for helping participants to get a good night’s sleep – one quarter slept well every single night of the study, and 83% of all nights under the influence of Red Leicester were good sleep experiences. As for dreams, Red Leicester is the cheese to choose if you are feeling nostalgic about your past – over 60% of participants eating this cheese revisited their schooldays, or long-lost childhood friends, or previous family homes and hometowns.

Cheese I ate: Cloth bound Red Leicester Aged English cheese
My Score: NO CHEESE. Didn't work for me.
I dreamed of my sister's wedding (though not a real replication of events, she did indeed get married last September), along with an assortment of other random things. The main of which was an overwhelming sense of discomfort and unease, being in some unfamiliar surroundings and with an ever-present sensation that I was just waiting, waiting, waiting for something.
See what I mean? I have stupid dreams.

Next up: Stilton.
1While this is obviously a bit of fun, I thought I'd divulge some of the constraints and concessions I've made in my attempt to replicate this survey.
First, not all the cheeses are British. I'm sure if I looked hard enough I'd be able to find imported versions of all the samples, but for something intended to be a bit of fun, my budget was unsurprisingly pretty low.
Second, I've decided I'll be eating this cheese within a couple hours before bed. Not sure if the magical powers will wear off with that span of time, but food
right before bed squicks me out.
Third, I kept the cheese portion to 25 grams.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Amanda Bell
Blog: dilettantknits
Rav ID: manduh
Etsy Shop: dilettant
Some Great Designs: manduh's Rav Designer Page

I've had the good fortune to meet this week's indie designer in real life! She was the kind knitter who invited me to the local English-speaking knit night in Munich.

I'm very happy to be profiling her beautiful work.

First I thought I'd point out her recently released Crosshatch Infinity Scarf in Two Weights. This accessory has so much great design. A reversible, lightweight, airy dance of a scarf, it shows off tone-on-tone and variegated yarns beautifully.

Cara Cara is a fun summer time hoodie, published in the current issue of KnitScene.
Fun bits of texture highlight this piece, doing a fantastic job of making a functional element (the hoodie pocket) into a pretty design feature.

Two other self-published designs include the cold-weather accessories set, Wavicle Hat and Cowl, and racerback tank Castanea Sativa. These pieces all display the same attention to detail and great use of texture that are hallmarks of this designer's style.

Looking forward to future dilettant knits publications!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Romper Rage; Or, More Appropriately, Sewing Machine Malice

I thought I'd let you all in on the progress of my risk-taking romper.

Again, me and my grandiose plans saw me sit down in the morning of July 1, scissors and pins in hand, thinking I'd get the lion's share of my romper done and maybe even get it finished to wear to my Canada Day party that evening.

Lo, the sewing machine had other plans.
So did the pattern.Photobucket

Story #1: Eeeevil Sewing Machine

Happily I laid out my pattern on the fabric. Discovering one of the pieces was missing, decided that was no biggie. I can sew around that.

Cut out and piled up, down to the sewing dungeon we went.

Off I sewed, on my merrily merrily way.
Honestly, most of the sewing went rather well.

Until this started happening.

Truth told: I'm no sewing machine techie, so apart from the stitching equivalent of Ctrl+Alt+Del, I was totally stumped as to how to fix this particular problem.

And that's where we stand. I got the pleats sewn, the top pieced together and was just on the verge of sewing in the pockets when my machine got hungry for some stretchy cotton.

Story #2: Patterns from the 1970s and my Hubris

Before I even started, I knew that this pattern wasn't my size.
I looked into just exactly what a misses size 6 is worked out to. Each measurement was about 6" too small. Meh, I thought. I can sew around that (every other pattern I've worked with has ended up being far too large anyway. I didn't think I was taking a gamble.)

Now, you'll notice there's no pictures of me clothed in a part-done, half-chewed up, sad, sad looking romper.
This is because it really was that sad.
That and I'm afraid of pins, and instead used alligator clips to "pin" it onto me and get an idea as to just how bloody small this thing is.
The shame associated with photographic evidence of my unorthodox use of office supplies would be too great.

In summation: I know I can work out of the corner I've sewn myself into. The question is: How many adult women have a 21" waist? I'm sure there's some who exist, I just don't think I've ever met them. Children, I'm sure. There's kids running around all over the place with 21" waists.

I shall end this post with a declaration that the romper has not beaten me! The general idea I got from "pinning" it on to me was actually rather positive. And, after someone with a bigger brain than I comes along and fixes my machine, I'm confident that I'll have a somewhat cute but most certainly complete and well-fitting romper to show ya'll.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: wondrlanding
Blog: wondrlanding
Rav ID: wondrlanding
Some Great Designs: wondrlanding's Rav Designer Page

Ahhh, the knit skirt.
Personally, I think they're a thing of loveliness.
And, if you can get them right, it's a great mark of your ability as a designer.

Judging from the photo here, I think it's clear that this week's designer, wondrlanding, has some great talent!

The skirt, Citta, is designed with a zipper and sewn fabric lining, allowing for the structure to be kept in this long, drapey skirt.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and I'll just quote her right here:

"About my design inspiration and plans? Well, I studied textile design and architecture, and aspire to merge these two in my designs: like optically transforming the human body by pattern, drape, asymmetry, etc. In my next two designs I will play with layering and texture."

Exciting! I can see this attraction to the structural/architectural.

See her Maura and Appia Hat designs. Both have wonderful line and texture, creating simple beauty in each knit.

I'm really looking forward to her next designs!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Lawn in the Front, Veggies in the Back: Rawr, Watch the Garden Grow

Well, I've stumbled through planning this year's veggie garden.

I originally had these grandiose plans (as I tend to do) wherein I'd outline the steps I took to develop (what was ideally) this vociferously verdant veggie villa.

Then I took the pics of my garden just this past weekend and decided I'm clearly NOT the source for all you good people to get your gardening info.

What I will do is show you the state of affairs.

This is what the backyard/garden looked like in May 2011.
Backyard - on blog

This is what it looks like now.


Here's a crappy panorama, too:

Not the biggest of gardens, but it's proven to be just big enough to yield copious amounts of spinach and rampant weeds that just get out of hand so quickly!

It's certainly a work in progress.
Here, I'll show you some of the fun stuff.
Back in March I started a seedling farm in my basement.

I planted a variety of veggies, herbs and flowers. Most sprouted just fine. Thrived, in fact.

Then I brought them outside. Death visited them swiftly in the night.

What I came out with was a couple strawberry plants and some morning glories.
And oh! Those morning glories. Possibly the most successful plant so far.

See them in all their climby glory.

I've had success with other non-edibles.

The marigolds I direct sewed in the spring are doing just fine.


My potted scottish moss is happy.

And my grape plant is doing well. It's actually digging my faux gothic arch trellising!

My next battle seems to be with some hungry cucumber beetles. Nasty things that they are.
Once I've prettied the place up a bit, I'll post some more pics.