A Week in Woolies Jan 23 – 29

week in woolies Jan 23-29

I managed to stay in on Monday the 23rd, and forgot a photo on the 29th, but it was a pretty great week this week! Lovely and warm, as you can see by the complete lack of hats for the week.

Things to note: Jan 23 & 24 – no woolies, just my new favourite black work sweater!

Jan 26: A rare photo of me wearing both mascara and lipstick! It was opening night that night, so I wore those two bits of makeup, and painted my nails ‘Break a Legwarmer’ grey by OPI. The gorgeous pashmina/shawl thing is from Anthropologie, and was a Christmas present in 2010 from mum.

Jan 27: You don’t need a hat in this weather if you have a hoodie!

So as you can see, when it gets warm, you don’t see the knitted items. In that 5-day collage, I wore my Clapotis once, and Teale’s scarf once. Otherwise, nothing. I think I need to make myself a thinner pair of mittens, because I was still wearing gloves on those days, but both pairs I have already are super-thick, and featured in last week’s post, when it was much colder, and you could barely see me for all the layers. But that’s winter in Alberta. -40C one week, +4 the next.

Have you been documenting your winter wear? Let me know!

Rycrafty’s First Knitting Pattern

The husband’s Metroid hat has been done for a while, and now I’m writing up the instructions. I took exclusively design classes at Sock Summit this past year, because I would like to try my hand at designing. I think a fun, video game-based hat is a great place to start. The hat part is pretty simple, but I’ll also be able to try my hand at writing out clear instructions for the claws/earflaps, which were more involved.

For the past day or two, I’ve been agonizing over how to lay out the pattern. I made myself a fun little graphic for the front page:

I really like the name Rycrafty, so no sense in changing it up, right?

I’m hoping to have the pattern out (free!) before the end of January. I’ve got some deadline knitting I’m also doing, but I really want to get this pattern out there.

A Week In Woolies – Jan 16 – 22

Week in Woolies Jan 16-22

Let me say this this week. It was cold. Damn cold. At least at the start of it.

Jan 16: my day off, so I went grocery shopping. All the accessories (and the lack of scarf) are inappropriate for walking in the weather, but I as I was driving and only walking across a parking lot, I did it anyway. This is not recommended, what if your car breaks down/you’re in an accident and you have to get out and wait for police/emergency/whatever? But I hate being too bundled up at Safeway. Those fingerless mitts were my first knitting-in-the-round project, and sit low enough on the back of my hand that it is easy to pop my thumb out of the thumb hole and pull off the gloves underneath without taking them off.

Jan 17: This is what -50C with windchill looks like. My thrummed mittens (like wearing your largest pair of oven mitts out of the house, but so warm), my super-long-Bob-Cratchit-scarf, my warmest (and itchiest, sigh) hat, all topped off with the dreaded puffy jacket w/furry hood. Yes, I needed both hood and hat.

I take a bit of a perverse pride in saying that I continue to walk to (and from) work in all weather, but when I was done work at midnight and it was -50C with the windchill…. I wussed out and P came to pick me up. Unlike a co-worker who rode her bike home that night. Had we known that at the time, P and I would have stolen her bike and forced her to ride home with us in the car.

January 18 & 19: Much like the days before, but I switched up hats to amuse myself under my hood. I really like the black and white one, it is the Side Slip Cloche from Boutique Knits. I just wish I’d made it a little bigger, to fit my giant head properly.
Week in Woolies Jan 16-22

January 20 and 21 the weatherman lied to me. Each day it was forecast to be warming up that night, and as I’m heading home around midnight, I dressed to be a little chilly on the walk in, but better on the way home. This is not the way to plan, because the weatherman lies! Thus my surprised (and red) face after my walk in on January 20th.

January 21: only 1 hand-knitted item! That white hat is one of the few storebought hats that has ever fitted my very large head. ‘Onesize’ hats do not fit. Ever. If I want a nice hat (like that one) I have to go to an actual hat store, where hats come in sizes, and even then most of the womens’ hats don’t fit. My Ulmus shawl is a nice big one for keeping the chin warm (or up to the nose, as on Jan 18th), and was the only pop of colour in this outfit. I hadn’t worn all those white things together before, I think I was a little afraid of being mistaken for Bonhomme or something.

Then, on January 22nd, Mother Nature proved just how exciting Calgary’s weather can be… we had positive temperatures again! From -50 to +1 in 5 days. I pulled out my Odessa hat, the lightest and non-wooliest hat I’ve knit myself in celebration. Only 70% wool, and knit by me in 2007! Although, the prize for oldest knitted project goes to the wristwarmers from Monday, knit in 2003. P and I worked at the same time on Sunday, so he took the photos for me. The first few were accidentally taken with the ‘Dali’ Hipstamatic lens. Fun, but not too great for details. The shots were too fun not to include though.


I think this ‘week in woolies’ thing would be fun to do with a bunch of other knitters! Let’s see all those carefully hand-knit items out in the world, being worn. After all, isn’t that what they’re for? You don’t need a camera phone, you don’t need to make little collages*, just post a photo of some sort! Let me know if you’ve done it, and I’ll include the links in next Monday’s Week in Woolies post! Heck, they don’t even need to be hand knit, just show us what you look like bundled up for winter every day!

*If you like the look of the collages, try FD’s Flickr toys for something free, or if you have Photoshop, check out Pugly Pixel’s photo layouts!

The Sauerkraut Experiment

Way back when, in my last CSA post of the year on October 15th, I mentioned I was going to try making sauerkraut with all the cabbages I had. Today, after renewing our share in Sundance Fields, I decided I should probably post about how that went.


I chopped up a lot of cabbage. LOTS of cabbage, but the right amount by weight, according to Martha. All that cabbage filled my 3 biggest mixing bowls. Then I added a little salt and some caraway to each bowl and got squishing. I was very concerned that it wasn’t all going to fit in the 3 jars I had, but after a lot of massaging, I dumped one mixing bowl into the other. Then a bit later, all the cabbage fit in one mixing bowl. Then, it only half-filled that mixing bowl! There is so much water in cabbage! It all packed very nicely into my thrifted mushroom jars. Apparently I have a thing for mushroom kitchen accessories, my favourite vintage pyrex pattern to find is this one. You can see them in a bunch of my other food posts on the blog too.

I followed Martha’s schedule for letting sit and opening the jars every now and then to release the gas. One jar made a satisfying ‘psssst’ sound every time I opened it, which was reassuring. Then, I kinda forgot about them. I remembered about a week or two after you were supposed to put them in the fridge, then I put off checking on them because I was scared of what I would find. When I did get around to it, one jar had gone disgustingly, stink-up-the-whole-kitchen fuzzy. The other two though, were fine! I tried a little forkful, and then spent the rest of the day saying to myself¬† ‘Do I feel sick? How is my belly?’ but everything was ok.

Then I realized that while I had fun making sauerkraut, I didn’t know what to eat it with. I’m not a big sandwich person, so I found a recipe for sauerkraut fritters. They weren’t bad, with some goat cheese on top, but not amazing. I think I’m just not a huge sauerkraut fan (except when friends K&E put it in their stuffing at Christmas. YUM!).

Have you ever made something more to see if you could, than because you’d eat it/wear it/use it when you’re done?

A Week in Woolies #1

After my post last week about my mis-matching of knitwear in the winter, I decided to start a little series on the blog. ‘A Week in Woolies’ means I will try to remember (that’s the hard part) to take a picture of myself with my iPhone that includes my hat, scarf, and mitts/gloves.

I figured it would be fun because there are so many pictures of in-progress knits on this blog, but not many of things being really worn. Modelling shots of the finished object don’t count. ;) We’ll also be able to see patterns in what I wear (I can already tell you I wear my blue/green Clapotis all.the.time.) and if I look like ‘that crazy knitting lady’ as I’m walking down the street.


Here we are, starting with the photo you saw last week.

As it was a new idea, I wasn’t too great with remembering to take photos, but I seem to have the pose down pat. I also thought it would be fun to put in the temperature range for each day, because you will see a definite down-surge in matchiness as it gets colder. I would rather my ears and fingers not freeze off than look cool.

The blue gloves on January 13th are great warmer-weather gloves. I bought them at The Bay a few years ago because they match that blue-green scarf I wear so often, and because they’ve got little conductive fabric patches on the index fingers and thumbs so I don’t have to take them off to operate my iPhone. It’s a little fiddly making sure you’re pressing with exactly the right part of your finger, but it is better than taking them off.

January 14th I’m actually wearing at matching hat & mitten set knit from yarn I spun myself! I use the term ‘matching’ loosely, you can’t see mitten #2 but it was a yarn that had loooong colour changes, so let’s call it more of a ‘coordinating’ set than a ‘matching’ one. The scarf I’m wearing there (which I also wore on the missing Jan 12th – didn’t take a photo because it was too warm most of that day and the scarf very soon moved to my purse) was my gift in Kimberly Michelle’s ‘Made By You’ gift exchange. It’s lovely and soft and warm, and goes pretty well with my new hat and mitts! It was made by new knitter Teale. Thank you so much!

January 15th the temperature took a nosedive and I was under-dressed in the hat department. And, truth be told, the coat department. The historical weather data on The Weather Network doesn’t seem to include the windchill, but on most days when it is that cold, there’s also the lovely biting wind that makes it feel 5 to 10 degrees colder still. Luckily, P dropped me off at work, and a kind coworker drove me home that day so I didn’t turn blue. Those pink and purple mittens though? Great for the cold, as they’re lined so they’re really a mitten inside a mitten.

Summary of the week: I felt fairly coordinated all week, up until the 15th when I made choices that were bad for both matching, and the weather.

Forecast for this week: The temperature is going to hover around -30C until Sunday or so, so I will probably be wearing my hated down parka for most of it, and the warmest knits I own. I try to deny the fact that I live somewhere where an down puffer coat is necessary, but when the windchill makes it -40C*,¬† I give up and just put the damn thing on. Until that point, I’m very happy to deny the coldness by wearing my regular wool-blend coats (the white one is Anthropologie {$45 on Boxing Day!}, the grey is Soia & Kyo) with various layers of sweaters underneath.

What do you look like all bundled up?

*fun fact: Celsius and Fahrenheit match up at -40. -40C and -40F are the same temperature: F-ING COLD.

Husband Hat

So the hat that I promised P ages ago, the one he really really wanted me to make, was based on a video game. You may have heard of the Metroid series of games – basically there are creatures called metroids that look like this:

They’re greenish, have 3 red ‘eyes’, and claws that will latch onto you and suck your energy. P wanted me to make him a toque (‘hat’ or ‘beanie’ for my non-Canadian friends) that looked like a metroid. As you saw before, we bought yarn together in appropriate colours. Cascade 220 comes in a great selection of colours, including a heathered collection, which I find just gives a bit more life to the colours.

(the greens are heathered, the red and white are regular)

Then I made a very technical sketch:

And then, I started designing my very first hat! I knew going into this that the hat part would be easy – it was the claws that would be the hard part.

Nothing comes up on Ravelry when you search for ‘metroid’. Searching for metroid hat comes up with a lot of pictures of fleece ones, and some crochet ones – crocheting the claws would be much easier, but I’m a knitter through-and-through. I also wanted to make the claws functional as earflaps – it gets really cold here, and I didn’t want to make P a hat that didn’t actually keep him warm! That’s why we bought wool to make it out of.

The big question is: Do I know enough about knitting to make the fabric match my sketch?

A Knitter’s Woolies

As a knitter, I knit a lot of things. Things like hats and mitts and scarves are fun because you don’t need to be super-worried about fit. Scarves – not at all, mitts and hats – small enough that starting over isn’t a huge chore.

As a knitter, I love fibre and all the different colours it comes in. I want to buy all the fibre I can fit in my house, and then some.

As a knitter, I love the millions of patterns available to me through the internet and books, (almost) all categorized by Ravelry. It is through browsing patterns on Ravelry that I realized that there is an immense number out there.

The above statements add up to – I like knitting little things, in different yarns and patterns. Meaning…. a knitter’s woolies will rarely match. There’s too much fibre out there to knit with the same thing twice! The same goes for patterns!

Today I felt like I did a very good job of coordinating my cold-weather-wear, so (for once) I wasn’t that girl with the blue/green scarf, red mittens, and beige/rainbow hat. Pink hat, purple/pink scarf, purple/pink mittens… not bad! Not to mention the permanent fixtures of the purple glasses and purple purse.

I feel like I’m starting to reach that point where I’ve knitted enough to start having things that coordinate, although the above group is the only proper ‘set’ I could create. I think some blue/green/grey mittens might be the next thing I should knit. Which leads to…

As a knitter, I hate knitting the ‘shoulds’. I just want to knit what I want in that particular moment. So I do. And while the matching was nice today, tomorrow I might put on my grey hat, maroon scarf, and store-bought fleece mittens, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Responsible Honeymooning

We did the responsible, adult part of our honeymoon prep yesterday: bought travel insurance, and got some vaccinations.

Poor P had a shot in each arm, one for Hepatitis A, and one for tetanus. I just had the tetanus one because I got my Hep A earlier in the year. We’re also both currently on a series of pills to prevent typhoid fever.

We went to a travel clinic, and what I really wanted there was advice on whether we should take any preventative malaria drugs. Reports I find on the internet vs my travel guide vs actual info I have from people living in Costa Rica don’t all agree on whether or not you should prepare yourself against malaria. I decided to trust implicitly in what the travel clinic nurse said. She pointed out the one little area on the map where there is enough risk to recommend taking the drugs. It’s on the Caribbean coast, but north of where we will be. Our area, south of Puerto Limon, just had some hash marks that meant wearing long sleeves at dusk should be enough mosquito protection. I’m happy not to have to take that stuff, because a nurse acquaintance said that some of them can have crazy (literally) side effects, and if we had to take the drugs, to watch for mental problems.

The nurse did say that some studies have been done of the effect of taking the vitamin B6 – it seems to make you less tasty to the mozzies. She did warn us that you can overdose on B6, so to get it through a multivitamin.

The people at the sloth sanctuary we are volunteering at said in their info package that we don’t need to worry about rabies vaccinations, which is also nice. P and I have agreed though, that if you’re slow enough to let a sloth bite you, you probably deserve it.

Rehearsal Snacks

I have a reoccurring problem. It happens to me every day, between 3pm and 4pm. I’ll be sitting at the table at work, trying to work, and I seem to lose control of both my neck and my eyelids. My eyelids droop, my chin heads toward my chest… it’s a terrible case of what I call ‘the 3 o’clock sleepies’. Between my love carbs at lunch, the buzz of the fluorescent lights, and the fact that we’re in a windowless room, I just can’t help myself. If I worked in an office, I could get up and go for a walk around the cubicles or something. But I’m meant to be recording the blocking the actors are doing, or reading along with what they’re saying (which really doesn’t help the sleepies) in case they need me to yell their next word. It isn’t a situation that I can just leave. What pains me is worrying that people will notice, and think I’m bored or disrespectful. Really, I just can’t control it. Eating protein helps. Endless glasses of water also help, but then I have to pee – see above re: being tied to the desk.

I pinned this recipe on Pinterest the other day, and made a batch of energy balls for rehearsals this week. I made this first batch almost exactly as the recipe says, only substituting cocoa nibs for chocolate chips. I even had the ground flaxseed! Hm, I left out the vanilla just because I forgot it, no other reason.

Here are the balls in action, sitting on my (heavily annotated) costume plot:

As soon as I feel the first drooping of the eyelid, the first little bit of dizziness that resisting that pull creates, I snack on one (or all 3 – they’re tasty as well as useful). It’s helped! I’ve staved off the sleepies for 4 days in a row so far. We’ll see if it still works on Sunday, which is usually the day of me wanting to take a nap all through work, not just at 3pm.

What I love about this recipe is that, even though it’s delicious as written, it is endlessly adaptable. I would love to try putting some cinnamon into a batch. I’d love to try some dried fruit, like cranberries, although I think the balls would hold together best if you chopped the fruit fine. Dried wild blueberries would be delicious, and small enough to begin with. Various different nut butters of course (I used natural peanut butter, but I bet it’d be delicious with hazelnut butter!), different varieties of honey…. As I said, endless. And delicious. And good for you! I think… nuts are good for you, right? Protein?

Living with a lighting designer

This used to be the track light in our kitchen. Once, it had 4 lights on it, but light number 4 gave up the ghost and just wouldn’t work, no matter how many new lightbulbs we got for it. Light #3 was in about the same place at the end of December, and we decided that the fixture just didn’t meet our needs any more. To work in the kitchen and have enough light you had to turn on that fixture, the living room light, the light over the sink, and the light over the stove. Not so you could see the sink or the stove, but so there would be enough light to see the counter properly.

At the very end of December we went down to Home Depot and bought this for ourselves:

There are more of them, there’s a wider span, they’re brighter, and the white glass shades help it give off a great light. Plus, it looks a lot nicer!

P is a lighting technician and designer, so a lot of thought went in to exactly which light would point where. Part of the problem was that that fixture is centred over the space between the island and the counter, not the counter itself. That meant that when you stand at the island (kneading bread/icing cupcakes/chopping veg) the light was coming from behind you and casting a nice head-and-shoulders-shaped shadow on your dough/icing/knife. Not ideal. With the length of this track, we had room to point the light you see in the far right of the photo at the left side of the island as you see it, and the far left left at the right side of the island. Now when I stand at the island, the light is coming from such an angle that I don’t cast a shadow on it. We also put a light in the centre of the track and pointed that directly as the island, but with the fill from the two angled lights, my shadow isn’t a problem.

Applying lighting design at home!

Starting as I mean to go on

P (voluntarily) took me yarn shopping on one of the last days of 2011, so I can knit him the hat I’ve been promising him since the summer. All 4 skeins are wound, and the knitting has started. Let’s hope it keeps going this smoothly.

It’s a pretty specific hat, so I’m getting a great start on that resolution of mine to start designing knitting patterns!

I also got a skein of this on the trip:

Fleece Artist Kidazzle – after reading The Knitter’s Book of Socks, I decided to try to find a sock yarn with mohair in it and see how it wears. Ravelry calls it a sport weight, but it seems like a fingering weight to me. I might use it for the Rick socks that were too tight for me when knit out of a very thin ‘fingering’ weight yarn I had in the stash. The Rick pattern is a spiral which puts a huge compression on the sock, just like one of those Chinese finger trap things I used to play with as a kid. The more I knit on it in the smaller yarn, the smaller it got. The cuff at 2″ fit over my heel, but when I had 5″ of cuff, I couldn’t put it on at all.

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