Wednesday, October 24, 2012

halloween sheep cookies!

I made these sugar cookies last week - not until today did I get around to blogging about them. The icing on them is my first attempt at making homemade cookie icing, so all things concidered, they turned out pretty awesome!

In case it's hard to tell: the top 3 are just regular sheep with bloody bites missing, the two black ones are bloodthirsty sheep (there's blood coming from their mouths!), a jack o lantern sheep, a candy corn sheep, and the three on the right are zombie sheep! :D

The bites were simply made using the scalloped edges of the sheep cutter, and I bought the candy eyes from Bulk Barn.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I'm all for knitting and crocheting both fun and/or functional items. Not all knitting needs to be functional, it can be weird or cute or silly.

But then, there's just madness.

Cozies for your fruit serve no purpose. Apples and bananas do not need a sweater.

A cozie for beer or coffee cups can be, in certain circles, a bit of a stretch. Beer bottle cozies help keep beer cooler longer, and don't get your hands cold. One might argue that the purpose of an ecological, reusable coffee cup cozie seems pointless when getting coffee in a paper cup that you're going to throw out anyway - but they can be cute nonetheless, and they do serve a purpose.

Apple cozies serve no actual, functional purpose. Unless, of course, your goal is to have your coworkers stare at you in the lunch room, wondering why your apple is wearing a sweater. Or, maybe, you've got a partial skein of yarn that's just burning a hole in your craft room and there is absolutely nothing else in the universe that is left for you to make a cozie for. Or, maybe, pharmaceuticals are involved, and while on them you become convinced that your apple is freezing and needs a sweater. Or, maybe, you're trying to be an etsy hipster and you've already got pictures of you posing with that Sharpie marker mustache you drew on your finger, and making an apple cozie is the next logical step in things to make and display online.

I'm usually the last one to comment on the utter uselessness or tackiness of something. Nevertheless, comment has been made. I've yet to be convinced of their purpose, and can guarantee that this will never be something that I'll make.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

free patterns vs paid-for patterns

I've been debating for a while now, whether or not to write a post about this, since this is something that has affected not only myself, but several other designers out in the knitting and crochet community.

I've got quite a few patterns available for free, as you can see... but these are all for small projects (1 skein or less) - I haven't posted them for sale largely because I personally only would want to post larger patterns for sale, for items like shawls or sweaters. This perspective will vary from one designer to the next. The knitting community has, for the most part, greatly & graciously appreciated the quantity of free patterns out there, and whenever possible, supported designers who chose to charge for their patterns.

Designers should never have to feel guilty for charging for a pattern. Most people - whether they knit or not - can appreciate the quantity of work that goes into knitting a garment. There's as much work that goes into writing out that design, and making sure that it's as accurate as possible.

Now, it will happen, on occasion, that there'll be a pattern that will come up for sale online or in a book or magazine, and there'll be free patterns that are very similar to it that will pop up. Assuming that the authors of the free patterns aren't purposely and deviously trying to make a sale pattern available for free, but rather these free patterns are merely coincidentally similar, then whoever decides to make the pattern that's for sale shouldn't feel any sort of guilt from having to buy the pattern, despite the availability of the free similar ones.

In my case, what happened a couple years ago, was I designed a sweater similar to the one worn in the movie The Big Lebowski. My brother was a huge fan of the movie, he loved the sweater, he wanted one, and he had requested one from me. At the time, there were no patterns available. So, I had to somehow improvise one. I did, and as I knit mine, I wrote out my pattern the best that I could. I had never written a sweater pattern before, but I had already knit several sweaters, so I had a fairly good idea of how to go about creating one.

My brother's sweater was gifted in September, for his birthday. The pattern became available for sale soon afterwards in the etsy shop I had at the time. As it turns out, exactly a week after I had mine up for sale and linked to ravelry, another designer had come out with her own version of the Lebowski sweater, and had decided to share it for free.

I have to admit, at the time I prided myself in finally coming out with a sweater pattern that seemed to be in such high demand; people had been posting online for years, desperately wanting a Lebowski sweater pattern. And it did bother me a bit that someone else not only came out with a pattern pretty much exactly at the same time I did, but I felt a little undermined that it was available for free. But, our patterns were different enough, and at the end of the day, it was really coincidence that we both had a Lebowski sweater pattern that came out at the same time, so I really couldn't fault anyone for that.

The problem came, though, soon afterwards. And it largely came because there was a free pattern out there, which inevidably conflicts with a pattern for sale.

I had sold a few of my patterns, and as far as I knew, everything was fine. A year had passed, I had quite a few people buy my pattern and knit it, and I had received quite a few emails of people who had finished my design and they all seemed to turn out rather well. The issue, rather, came about on ravelry - I had a couple people buy my pattern, and within a couple months, wrote very mean messeges to me about how they believed I was trying to rip them off, SIMPLY BY HAVING A PATTERN FOR SALE when there was another one out there for free.

In my defense, I told them, that my pattern and the free one had come out within a week of each other, and a basic pattern search on ravelry would show both of these patterns. They chose to buy my pattern, I couldn't be held responsible for that.

It was only AFTER that, that I was told that my pattern was apperently riddled with mistakes, although those mistakes were noted absolutely nowhere. The couple who had complained about my pattern said they would ONLY let me know what these mistakes were on the condition that I paid them for it - which is unheard of, at least as far as I was concerned.

Sidenote: I've frequently come across mistakes in patterns, in both ones I've bought AND ones I've used for free. In EVERY case, I have not only contacted the designer with the mistakes I've found, but I've also made note of them in my notes on ravelry. If for nothing else, that there is SOME mention of erratta SOMEWHERE, and there's a chance that the next person who knits said design MIGHT come across my notes and can make the necessary adjustments. So far, in all of my years at least on ravelry, this has been what other knitters have also done with the patterns they've made. I've even posted, out of curiosity, in ravelry's forums, if a designer should pay their paying customers for pattern corrections, to which I've got an astounding 'no'.

Back on topic: I came to the conclusion that what these couple buyers had was buyer's remorse. I get it, it sucks to have to pay for something when you later discover you could've gotten something very similar for free. This was something that was reiterated a few times to me by these few people: I owed them because they believed I cheated them out of something. I even had one person wanting me to pay her back for the yarn she bought, because she used the colours I did in my original design, rather than using the origincal colours from the Lebowski sweater. Huh?!? And another knitter who, even though she bought the right yarn, knit much too tight and would up with a tighter tension (and therefore, a smaller sweater) so, according to her, I owed her for that as well.

Eesh... one has really nothing to do with another.

I want to note, only because I've been asked and this has been commented on, that I've absolutely not had a problem with the other (free) pattern, nor an issue with its designer. She's a wonderful designer and we've had a good chat about our sweater patterns when they were first released in the ravelry communtiy. The issues solely lied with the few knitters who have a) bought the pattern, and b) commented on their own issues of these seemingly conflicting designs.

On a personal note, it has hurt me quite a bit when my pattern came out that I was given as much grief as I had, simply because I decided to charge for my design, and I apparently had a very selfish audacity to offer a pattern for sale when was out there for free. I took it very personally then, and it still bothers me a bit to this day, to be attacked in such a way not only privately, but also blatently and publicly, online, simply for having a pattern for sale. I didn't steal the design, and yet I felt like I was being crucified simply for having a pattern for sale.

It had been, after a year of being available, taken down. I had completely removed it and was since very much discouraged for even considering sharing another pattern (for free OR for sale) because of those couple incidents.

I have, though, a number of times since, been asked to at the very least share my intarsia charts for the Lebowski sweater pattern I made, and I stood on the fence of whether or not I wanted to even share them privately, because of all that had gone on. So, I simply declined.

Now, 3 years to the month later, and after several more requests for at least the charts (and a few requests for my version of the pattern as well) I decided to post it up as only a ravelry download here - charts and all. I'm posting with a great amount of hesitation, but hopeful that maybe even part of my pattern is helpful to anyone who wants to knit a sweater, and that there's an effort for positive construction to move forward.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

short post

Short post today: I know I missed posting for the last couple mondays, I just didn't have anything to write.

Progress on diet: I finally got past the 25lb mark - I've lost 25.2 lbs so far, despite a couple glitches. Better late than never.

Summer top progress: I'm making progress. I'm knitting this top-up, so I finished the torso and part of the sleeves, I've just joined everything and am finishing the yoke part of the top. Trying to figure out how I'm going to decrease everything to finish off the collar so it doesn't look half-assed. More on that later.

DH and I are doing a little relief work, taking in a foster child toddler for the next 10 days or so, so I may not be posting next monday. But I'll definately post the week after. Maybe I'll get around to downloading whatever I need to download for blogger so I can finally post pictures!

Monday, June 25, 2012

epic knitting fail

I'm still having trouble uploading pictures into my blog, and downloading the new blog format, so bear with me. I'll be including links to ravelry for my project.

The top that I bought way back in March, that I started nearly 3 months ago, was completed last night and it was an epic fail. For a number of reasons. I believe, truly, that it had more to do with the pattern than my knitting, but I'm not going to blame it entirely on the design. I'll comfortably divide the blame 80/20, the latter being my eye and knitting.

Ravelry link to my project: Vintage Love Summer Top

The top is knit top-down, and I think the designer's thinking is that you can make adjustments as needes while you work. Which means, especially if you're making the plus sizes (which I did) one would have to remove it from the needles, thread a yarn thru live stitches, try it on carefully, thread it back on to the circular needles, and keep on going. Very difficult and tedious and very easy to drop stitches.

As I was making this design, I noticed in the beginning there was one problem after another with the pattern itself. I was one of the first to buy the pattern when it came up for sale, and I couldn't work past either the extremely weird wording or the mistakes, and it took sometimes 2 weeks to get a reply from the designer. So, just to get through the top down to below the bust (sans sleeves) this all took at least 4 contacts to the designer to try to figure out the problem, and nearly 2 months. That was painfully annoying. In that time I could've completed the top entirely.

I also thought, as I was making it, that the arm holes seemed enourmous. But I thought, well, there's a lot of shaping that happens in arm holes, and that reflects in the sleeves. Had I been skilled enough to design my own arm holes and sleeves, I really wouldn't need to buy a pattern in the first place. This is where I lack as a designer, so I depend entirely on pattern instructions. Despite my skepticism, and a few unreplied messeges to the designer, I went ahead and finished the design anyway. There is an extra 10" of space from my armpit to the bottom of the sleeve hole. That is HUGE!

This means, if I were to wear this out in public, I'd have to do so without lifting my elbows, or I run the risk of a wardrobe malfunction, and trust me, no one wants to see that.

There is a lot of this pattern that I dislike, and it partially has to do with how it fits on me. It largely, though, has to do with the structure of the pattern. There is no diagram showing what the final measurements and proportions of each part of the top should be, as sweater patterns should have.

Anyway, at the end of the day, and this is also on more of a personal note, the attitude of the designer also turned me off quite a bit. No matter what I asked, despite my best efforts in trying to be polite in all my frustrations, the designer consistantly insisted that what I was doing was wrong, and there's no flaws with the pattern. The pattern support is awful, and the designer proved to be rather difficult to work with. Bad customer service does add insult to injury in this case. This whole endevour has turned me off entirely of retrying this project or any of her other designs.  

This project will be frogged, and in the 7 weeks remaining before my brother's wedding, I'll be making extra effort to reknit my blue top and hopefully find time to knit a black one as well to wear.

Monday, June 18, 2012

and... more progress!

Well, I'm now officially up to 23 lbs lost, which is awesome. And to be honest, I haven't really been tracking points as intently as I normally do, since there's been a lot of eating out. It's interesting how I can more or less guess what a quantity of something is just by eyeballing it, and it's obvious that I can't be too far off because I'm losing weight.

My big issue with weight is not so much that I don't eat healthy - because I generally do. My issue is with snacking. It's rare that I have take-out or pop in the house, we don't really eat chips that often. It's really just portions and snacking that throws me through a loop. I've also found myself making the same meals over and over again - meat with a side of rice every day for dinner. Which, in itself is healty, but it can be a lot. I know I've frequently had 2 pork chops instead of one. A cup of peas is half the points of a cup of rice, and a 1 point salad is not that hard to put together - which would be a quarter of the points of the rice again.

Or, a small glass of juice instead of a tall glass. Sweetener in my coffee instead of sugar, or milk instead of cream. A slice of cheese instead of an inch-thick cut of it. Weird little things like that will cut down the number of points (& calories and fat!) I consume.

Plus I've found myself eating things I don't normally eat. I'm eating a lot more fruit and veg for snacks instead of granola bars, even though the granola bars are quite healthy. Or cottage cheese makes great snacks too.

Small things do make a big difference!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I just realized I forgot to blog last monday, as I usually do.

Well, fwiw, I passed the 20lb mark, I weighed myself monday and discovered I lost a total of 20.6lbs. There's still a ways to go, but it's really a good start.

I've also been slacking off a bit, I'm trying to figure out how to load Google Chrome... because blogger's not allowing me to post links or pictures without the update. I've a bunch of projects I've finished recently that I haven't been able to post because of this, but hopefully this is something I can tackle soon, so I can share my knitting and crochet projects!

Off topic: a weird yarn thing happened this past week. I discovered that Patons Shetland Chunky used to come in a different sized skein. I came about discovering this when I went thru ravelry, and bought someone's stash 2 weeks ago, and it arrived yesterday. I thought I was buying 7 skeins of 100 grams and 148 yards, but what I infact wound up with was 7 skeins at 50 grams each and 73 yards. Drastic difference, and this was something that was not shared before I purchased it.

In itself, it's not a big deal if what I intended to knit with it is hats and scarves and mittens, because it really wouldn't make a difference. What I wanted to make, though, with it, is a sweater for DH. Which requires 7 100 gram skeins. It's one of those colours that I can't just go to Michael's and buy the balance of what I need, because if I could, I would.

I did contact the person I bought it from, and she's adament that the old yardage was infact listed in ravelry when she sold it to me, and I insist that it wasn't, so it seems that we're both in a position where we each think we're right and the other person's wrong, so what can I do. This wasn't an issue of how much I spent on the yarn, because truthfully I did get a good deal on it, but more of an issue of expecting something and getting something entirely different and being stuck with it.

Without asking for a refund, I did get one though, with the condition from her end that the yarn would be used charitably, so that's what I'm going to do. If I can find a charity that can use this yarn, it'll go there, otherwise I'll gladly knit it into some garments and donate it to a charity that's looking for some warm clothes. So, in the end there's something proactive that comes out of this.

Monday, June 4, 2012

diet win!

Well, I set a new record: I lost 4.5lbs this week! I've no idea how... It was my birthday a few days ago, so I didn't really count points then, and the weekend before last (as I've blogged) I was at my SiL's shower and did a bit of birthday stuff then too... there was, in essence, only 4 days in the last 7 where I really counted my points. But I guess I can brush a lot of that to whatever surplus "water weight" I gained since the last time I weighed myself.

So, to date: 19.6 lbs lost. Awesome!

Monday, May 28, 2012

diet fail, and weirdness with the inlaws

I have to admit, the diet thing went out the window a bit this past week, again. Weekdays it's not a problem to follow it, but the weekend gets tricky. On Saturday was my DB's fiancee's first wedding shower, and I tried to eat as little as possible. This weekend we also celebrated my birthday, since it's coming up in a few days - so we celebrated it twice: Saturday night after the shower, at DB's place, and then again Sunday evening with the inlaws.

So, despite counting my points during the week and trying to bank a few here and there, I gained about 2.5lbs. :( But it's ok, I've got this week to undo some of the damage done from the last two weeks.

... I've also been debating whether or not to blog about this, I really try not to vent in my blog, but sometimes I just can't help it.

There's this game that we play with my inlaws, the rare times that DH and I host dinner. It's called Let's Not Try Anything That Sabrina Makes, Because No Matter What It Is, We're Going To Think It's Awful. It's an easy game to play: whatever food I prepare, regardless of how plain-jane it is, we just don't eat it. We don't even try it. The real challenge is coming up with a new excuse as to why we won't eat it. Like if dinner's at 7pm, we claim we're still full from the meal we ate 9 hours ago. Granted, I'll admit that what I grew up eating from my own family is different than what the inlaws are used to eating - I come from a southern European family, where as they're Irish, so they're used to meat and potatoes whereas I'm used to garlicy foods, cheesey things, stuff drizzled in olive oil, etc. Think anything Italian or southern French or Mediterranean, really.

There was once where I had them over for DH's birthday. I actually had the nerve of making homemade burgers and homemade cupcakes for dinner. And, mind you, cupcakes from an instant mix, not even really from scratch. We still insisted on not eating what was served but rather raid the fridge to eat from there instead. Am I the only one who thinks that's insanely rude?!? But I bite my tongue, because these are my inlaws.

So this time, the only thing I made were some hors d'oevres. Chips, store bought dip, store bought antipesto stuff, and the only thing I really made was bocchini cheese wrapped in proscuitto drizzled with a little olive oil. What's great about bocchini is that it really doesn't have a flavour at all, and proscuitto (I used the smoked kind) tastes like bacon. Well, we were picky about that. Thank goodness that the bbq was prepackaged stuff from the grocery store and the cake was not homemade, otherwise half of our guests wouldn't've eaten it.

Sometimes it feels like I can't win for trying.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Long Weekend!

Today's Victoria Day in Canada, so DH has the day off work. This weekend we had a lot going on - DB & SiL moved in to their new place, they got their keys last Friday, and had just a short move from Markham to Stouffville. DH & I helped out on Friday, slept over and helped out some more on Saturday with painting and around-the-house repairs.

We also went grocery shopping yesterday, and I finally saw the tomato plants out for sale! So, I bought a bunch - and by a bunch, I mean probably around 20+ plants. My bad: I didn't realize that some of the containers had 5 plants in them. Nevertheless, we should be having a gazillion tomatoes this summer! Plus, this is my first time attempting to grow cucumbers, so that should be fun!

The only downside with helping with the move on Friday/Saturday is we wound up eating a lot of fast food. I was sort of hoping that with all the work we were doing, it'd balance out, but no dice. I did gain 1.6 or so lbs. :( Although I did stick to my minimum points yesterday, so that (I think) may have counterbalanced some of the damage I did.

Today is a start of a new week though, so with any luck I'll break the 20lbs-lost mark next monday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

way more progress! :)

Dietwise, I had a very good week this past week! I'm down another 3lbs, which brings my total weight lost to 19.2 lbs!

I was a bit worried, because again last week I went out to eat. Restaurant eating always weirds me out, since I really can't accurately measure what I'm eating to really measure my points, and the particular restaurant I went to didn't have the nutritional info posted online so I could figure it out when I got home. :(

So, that makes a total of 3 out of the last 4 weeks where I've lost 3 lbs a week, which I know is higher than usual - average weight lost in a week on a diet should be 1 to 2 pounds. I am sticking within my points, and using up some of my banked points once in a while. I must admit, though, I'm greatful that my points range is in the 30 points range at this point, because I am finding that I am using them. I guess that's one of the lessons you learn with Weight Watchers, you slowly decrease down, and learn to substitute healthier portions and more low-point foods into your diet.

At this rate, though, I should hit my next goal of 25 lbs lost in no time!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

falling a little out of love ...

Well, this is my vintage love summer top so far. I've got the torso of it about 2/3's or 3/4's done, and the sleeves each about half done.

Quite frankly, I'm a little annoyed with this whole top - I've started this back in March, and was hoping to make both a blue one and a black one to wear at my brother's wedding in August.

My first issue is with the yarn - I ordered a bunch of Knit Picks Cotlin yarn, and it's already starting to pill on me. :(

Secondly, the actual structure of the pattern is so weirdly written that parts of it was difficult to decode and follow. I'm a bit torn in complaining about a pattern too much, because I know how much work goes in to designing and writing one out, plus I can see on ravelry that this has been test knit a few times. But, on the other hand, despite this being test knit, and the designer claiming to have been published in magazines, I've found mistakes that hadn't been corrected - small ones, mind you, but still - and there are glaring parts of the pattern that are very hard to understand because it's so awkwardly written, and am surprised that none of the test knitters had pointed these out to correct it.

Because of those confusing, weirdly written parts, I've had to put knitting the top on hold for as much as 2 weeks at a time to get replies from the designer to help me understand what I'm knitting. I must admit, that the designer has made an effort to help, but there were times that even the math in her helping was wrong, and it took a lot of back-and-forth to even decode some of what she explained. But she was nonetheless helpful.

I can honestly say that despite my intention of knitting 2 of this top (and I have bought the yarn with the intention of knitting this twice) I'm absolutely not going to bother making it again. I think, if I do ever get around to finishing this top - and at this point, I guess I may as well - the black yarn I bought will be used towards a different top. I'm not sure if it'll get done before the wedding, but I'll try. I think, had I not paid for the pattern or had the yarn start pilling on me mid-knitting, then I would've frogged the whole thing and started over with a completely different design.

Overall I do think it'll turn out alright, I'm just not in love with this pattern any more. But it will make a unique enough top to wear this summer, for sure.

Monday, May 7, 2012

itty bitty bit of progress

I only lost 0.8lb this past week... almost a whole pound, but not quite there. Which is still a loss, nonetheless, so I'm ok with that. :)

The top I'm knitting for my brother's wedding this summer is making a small amount of progress, mainly because (despite my best efforts) I find the pattern to be confusing. There are fragments of the pattern that are just so weirdly worded that I've wound up frogging and reknitting parts of it at least twice. It has often been put on hold also because I had to wait for a reply for help from the designer. Now that I think I've got it figured out enough to finish it, I'm hoping to post progress pictures with my next post!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

50% of xmas knitting done!

Well, I got half of my xmas knitting done! I got a bunch of Lion Brand Amazing yarn a few months ago for 99 cents a ball (Isn't that great?! It's normally $9.99 each!) so I used part of it to make these scarves for the inlaws. The thinking is, all I have to do now is make scarves for my brother, SiL, parents and grandmother.

The colours I used (in order, left to right) are Olympia, Aurura, Olympia again, Rainforest and Vineland. They're each just ribbed scarves - either in a K1, P1 rib, or K2, P2 rib, or in the case of the two mobius scarves, a k3, p3 rib. Very easy, and I knit until the entire skein was used up.

Monday, April 30, 2012

another step closer... & finished socks!

I'm down another 3lbs this week - which tallys me up to approx 15.4 lbs lost since I started! (yay!)

I also finished these socks - knit from the toe up. I found two skeins of Patons Kroy Stripes in matching colourway, and knit almost an entire skein for each. Now I've got a pair of nice warm socks ready for Halloween!

Monday, April 23, 2012


I know that typically, on a diet one should comfortably lose 1-2lbs. That should be healthy and typical. But this past week, even though I followed my points - and even hit the max # of points on most days and went to the movies last tuesday & went a little crazy with movie snacks - I lost 3.4 lbs this week!!! So, after a total of 5 weeks dieting so far, I'm up to 12.4lbs lost! Awesome!

So, I've surpassed my initial immediate goal of losing 10 pounds. That is not only awesome, but encouraging. I'm in a new lower points range as of today, and my new goal is to get up to 25lbs lost, which shouldn't be a problem because I'm practically half way there!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

knitting history

I love knitting geekery. Especially anything to do with history. This article details a bit of history on Latvian mittens.

I've admired Latvian mittens for a while now, I've been meaning to work up the courage to knit at least one pair for myself... the colour & pattern work on these are amazing - if only I can get past all the fair isle that needs to be done! But they do look fantastic nonetheless.

One day... hopefully this winter!

Monday, April 16, 2012

... more progress!

When I started this diet a month ago, my short term goal was to lose 10 pounds... well, I'm nearly there. I've lost 2.2lbs since last week, so that makes it a total of 9lbs so far. Considering there was a 'glitch' during the end of the first week which resulted in my gaining a bit of weight, I've technically lost the 9lbs within 3 weeks, really. Which is awesome.

Thank goodness for frozen fruit - I can have a cup and a half of raspberries or strawberries which is only 1 point, and I've gone back to snacking on cottage cheese, which I love! Also, Thinsation chocolate covered pretzels are awesome miracle workers to take care of that sweet or salty craving! I just love them!

That's all the update for now... back to knitting! New handknit item to be posted soon...

Monday, April 9, 2012

idle hands are the devil's playground

Growing up Catholic, one is bound to hear this at least once in their upbringing. I've never been particularily religious, but I've heard this often muttered by my teachers when going to Catholic grade school, not fully knowing what that ever meant.

It is, though, something that I often think about while knitting or crocheting. I've always been, by nature, fidgety - so knitting & crocheting was just naturally a hobby that I'd fall in love with. There's a certain satisfaction in accomplishing the large projects like afghans or sweaters, but the small portable projects are great too.

The top I'm working on to wear this summer is still in progress, I'll post photos of that later. What is keeping me busy on the weekends are the itty bitty projects. For example, I finished four duduza dolls (queuable here on ravelry) that were mailed after the weekend was over. This past Easter weekend, I worked on some toe-up socks that I want to finish before Halloween, since they're in Halloween colours.

I weighed myself this morning - despite the holiday over the weekend, celebrated twice - once on Friday with my DB & SiL, and again on Saturday with DH's family - I still lost 1.2lbs. A great accomplishment, despite the weight being minimal!

The unfortuante thing with holidays is that there are sweets everywhere - and I had my fair shair of cheesecake and chocolates! I was sure I wasn't going to lose anything, but the fact that I did was awesome. I wasn't about to bring that big top to knit when DH & I went up north to visit the inlaws, but having my toe-up socks came in handy to keep my mind occupied enough. My hands were busy knitting stripe after self-stripping stripe in my socks to avoid having that third peice of chocolate or that extra handful of chips.

Having some kind of mindless knitting that's easy and small enough to carry around - like socks - are a handy thing to help keep the excess snacking at bay!

Friday, April 6, 2012

ok, I have to brag...

A few days ago I finished spinning this whole skein of yarn. Yes, I've spun a bunch before, but I have to admit, this is my best and favourite one to date. My future-SiL loves Chanel designs, and also crochets, so I thought I'd make her a skein of handspun inspired by Chanel colours.
It's all wool, but I did incorporate a little black fun fur in it just for fun. I absolutely LOVED this wool, it was so soft and easy to work with, I had no problem spinning it! Plus, since I knew I was going to make this a two ply yarn, what I've done in the past is spin 2 skeins in a Z twist, respun one so it'll become an S twist when I spin both together. (Does that make sense?!?) Well, not this time - for the first time I've managed to create an S twist skein, so there wasn't any need to reball the yarn before twisting the two skeins together.

Total size: 5.9 oz (168g), approx 235 yards (215 meters). Also my largest skein to date! It's approximately worsted weight, although there are some thick-&-thin fragments in it.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I've lost four pounds. Four! Well, 4.2 actually. So, this past week I've completely undone the two pounds I've gained from the week before, and lost a little extra.

Yea, I know that most of what is lost initially is pretty much water weight, but it still counts.

Short post for today... more to come later!

Monday, March 26, 2012

start of week two

Well, I've started my diet with a bit of a rocky road. As it turns out, last Monday I started my diet, and last Thursday at the last minute, my brother and SiL have invited us over for dinner to celebrate them selling their house. DH & I were careful in monitoring what we ate and at what volume, and I think we were pretty good about it, although it was hard to calculate our points on things like dessert, which we didn't have a lot of but we also didn't make, so I've no idea what went into it. So, I've a feeling that our points were thrown off a bit because of that. But, we also spent this past weekend at my parents-in-law's place, so the diet went thru a loop there. I like my inlaws a lot, but they tend to always try to feed me, so it was difficult to keep telling them that I'm on a diet and I can't have more food, and they kept trying to give me more food. Eesh.

As it turns out, DH lost about a pound this past week, but I gained two pounds. Go figure.

So, this week there should be no distractions. In fact, if I'm lucky, there should be no diet-distractions until Easter.

I did get my yarn last Friday, so I've started knitting my top for this summer's wedding. This is it so far. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is a very dark blue. I'm using Cotlin yarn from knitpicks in the colour Plantation for this one. It's a really easy knit, and at the rate that I'm going, I should be able to finish this one plus a black one as well for the wedding. The top is called Vintage Love Summer Top (ravelry link & pattern) and is made from the top down. I can't wait to have it finished! Although I can't model it until I've lost the weight I need to; there's a good chance that I'll have this top done before the weight is lost. Nonetheless, it'll be a good distraction to keep my hands busy knitting instead of snacking, and it'll give me the motivation to stay on track with this diet so I can fit into it for August!

Monday, March 19, 2012

day one

DH & I have officially started Weight Watchers today on our own. We're both keeping track of what we eat in notebooks we picked up over the wknd, and charting out how many points we can both have.

When we weighed ourselves this morning, DH was a bit disappointed that his pre-breakfast weight dropped him down a point group! So, instead of him being able to have 24-29 points as he originally thought, he's down to 22-27 points. His weight this morning fit him in the new point category by just a pound.

I, on the other hand, am in the 30-35 point range. So, I've got a way to go to catch up to DH.

I've decided that the best approach to this diet, this time, is to create both immediate and short term goals. Immediate goals are for right now, to make the short term goals seem a bit more attainable. Long term goal of course is to get down to my ideal weight, which is going to be very far away, realistically.

So, my immediate goal is to lose 10 lbs, which isn't too far away and I think should be easily attainable within the short term. Short term (but not immediate) goal is to be small enough to fit into the top I mentioned yesterday. The yarn for that hasn't yet arrived, and my brother's wedding is 5 months away, so I've plenty of time to work on that.

Already 2 meals down - breakfast and lunch - keeping track of my points and water intake. I've just started but already I feel like progress is being made.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

going on a diet...

Well, this summer (August) my brother's getting married. (yay!) I've decided that what I want to do is knit a top - or more specifically, knit 2 versions of the same top - to wear to the wedding. DH has been asked to be one of the groomsmen, and I've been designated as a greeter.

The problem is, I'm larger than the largest size available for the top I want to make, even though the largest size is a 3x. I am 3x sized, but that really varies from one brand to another. Bustwise, I'm actually 1.5" larger than what's asked for in the pattern. It wouldn't be difficult to just add a few stitches to accomodate my size, I've done that before. But what good would that be, really?

I've always been overweight, ever since I was little. My weight has never really been an issue for me, I've never been teased for being fat or anything like that. I was always fine with what size I was. Because I was never really one of those 'girly' kind of girls (obsessed with clothes, make up, etc) then fitting into little cute outfits was never much of a concern for me.

What made my weight an issue was when I started knitting for myself, and wanting to knit sweaters. Even though a lot of great patterns come in my size, buying enough yarn to make these largest sizes can get expensive, even if I go the more economical route.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to knit a sweater for myself and not have to buy more than 10 balls of yarn?!?

So, I've decided to put myself back on Weight Watchers, I've still got all of the points calculators and work books from when I last did it a few years ago, but didn't stick to it for too long. I've joined the weight watchers group on ravelry. My goal is to knit this top (ravelry link) twice, and I've ordered some knitpicks yarn in two colours.

The top two sizes are for a 48" bust and a 52" bust, and it looks like it's a negative ease top... so I want to fit in the 52" bust size comfortably. If I can get myself down to a 50" bust or so, that would be great. That's my goal for August.

DH wants to lose a little too, although he really doesn't need to lose a lot, but he's going to do WW with me for a bit. :) We'll officially start on Monday, which will give us plenty of time to lose the weight we want to for August!

I'll be (hopefully) blogging and knitting to help me keep on track with this diet. It'll motivate me to stay on track, get my projects done, and blog on a more regular basis!

Monday, February 20, 2012

new blog ... charity baby blankets!

Please check out my new blog that I just started yesterday. :)

Since DH & I are in the process of adopting, we've also taken in some foster kids. They often get into the system in an emergency situation, and with very little to start off in their new (albeit temporary) homes. I've gone into a bit more detail on the new blog about the whole situation, but the point is, smaller children (babies, toddlers) often not having their blankies with them. That's why I decided to contribute what I can, and I hope that fellow knitters and crocheters can help out and follow suit.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

a couple posts & articles worth reading

If anyone has chatted with me lately - and by lately, I mean the last year and a half or so - they very well know my opinion about the state of etsy and how poorly I think of what the site has become.

I had a shop on etsy for years - since they started, practically. I had one shop, initially, and then opened a new shop there.

At one point, @ least 60% of my sales came from alchemy requests (for sweaters, large projects, etc) and I easily earned a few hundred dollars every few months. Since alchemy closed down a couple years ago, I've lost that revenue.

Also with treasuries: Treasuries were limited to 333 at a time, and they expired after 2 or 3 days. This allowed for more obscure items to be featured, and being in one was a much more coveted spot. Nicer treasuries were being made, and a lot more handmade was being featured on the front page. This isn't happening any more, since treasuries have now changed.

Chat has closed down. So everyone who was using the chat room for help no longer gets help from fellow etsians. Also, many people had a few sales a month from the chat room, which was also lost. This was the last straw for a lot of people.

There isn't a week that goes by, it seems, where etsy isn't making DRASTIC and disfunctional changes. Not to mention all the resellers, wholesalers, manufactured goods from China, trademark & copyright violations and fake vintage that isn't being policed. This blog post details a few of the most recent changes, that happened after I left.

Etsy claims that it's because of a lack of staff and money, and yet there are many reports from reputable sources that state that etsy's revenues are in the millions of dollars.

If you still make handmade, or support handmade, please consider a move to zibbet. I don't work for the site, but I have moved my shop there over a year ago, and it was the best move I've ever made. There is a free account option, and the staff who run that site do a FANTASTIC job at customer service as well as supporting handmade. It is still a relatively new site so it does need a little extra promoting, but keep in mind that etsy was the same way in its early days.

A lot of this post has been inspired by this article published in business week magazine, originally linked via regretsy. It's amazing how etsy has managed to get on the nerves of so many handmade artists, and the site still fools itself in thinking that it can fool non-etsians that it is a supposed handmade site.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

queue the owl cup cozies!

I think that out of all the (meager) patterns I've designed, the best and most popular one to date is my owl coffee cup cozie ... so far 393 made on ravelry and 921 in queue, to date.

For some reason, though, I've gotten mildly obsessed with checking out its queues more so than any other design I have. The highest number of queues in a day has peaked at 10, over the last 180 days (back in September) and peaked at 5 in the last month.

It's a given that this is a small project, and many have posted that it's a great, easy way to learn cables.

I would love to have another day of queues peak at 10, or even beat that record. I've no idea how to have that happen, but it would be stellar. Valentine's Day is a week away... I wonder if this would make a great gift for that occasion?

Friday, February 3, 2012

where things come from, and where things go...

I've had this on my mind for a while now, so I apologize in advance if this blog post seems a bit scattered.

I've been in etsy and zibbet for a while now, buying and selling and frequenting the chat rooms etc; there has consistantly been an issue of handmade vs wholesalers, supplies & "handmade" that come from China, etc that people have issue with.

And yet, disturbingly, their supplies all come from the very places they claim to loathe.

Then the holidays roll around. Not just the December holidays, but other gift giving events like birthdays or whatnot. There's the buying-from-big-box-stores issues, vs handmade. Big Box makes their revenues for that quarter, and yet handmade still stays in shop. Same sellers complain about how they dislike Big Box Store, and yet their supplies come from there. And, did they lead by example by avoiding Big Box and buy entirely handmade that season? Not likely.

But this is nothing new. It has been going on for years. One just musters and shrugs at it all and hopes that the next holiday is better than the last.

Then, though, I come across articles like this one in regretsy - not so much complaining about Big Chain X stealing the ideas of indie artists and not giving them the credit (at the very least) that they deserve, but then go off to make a ton of money off of it. All designers, all big name retailers do it.

Yes, it's irritating that they do it, but what's even worse is that people will buy it. And if not the item(s) in question, they will still buy from these big retailers, which is equally as bad, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not.

I know that if there are any comments to this thread, there's bound to be a few that will say, "Well, there's a recession on, that's why we shop at Big Box Store." ... or ... "I don't like Company X's business practices, therefore I'm not one of the people you're venting about." (Meanwhile half of their closet is filled with Company X's things.)

The best excuse that I have heard in the past, and from fellow handmade online sellers, is "I'll buy once I have paypal money to buy it." Which means, if we're perfectly honest, it's not going to get bought. The comment may be well intentioned, but it's really something we've gotten into the routine of saying. 

We all know, both the person hearing (reading) it as much as the person uttering it, that it's really not true. For some reason, there are a lot of people who view 'paypal money' in these forea as money that's not really there, it's somehow 'extra' or 'invisible' money that's just floating out there in the interwebian universe. Supplies bought at Big Box X comes from our bank accounts. And yet supporting handmade only comes off of the bare minimum we make off of what we've made.

Here's been my thinking, when it comes to gift giving (for whichever occasion): I know I have 'x' number of dollars to spend per person. How much that is may vary from season to season or year to year, but I know ahead of time what that 'x' amount is. People's birthdays don't change from one year to the other, neither does Christmas. I can budget for those pretty accurately if I put in a fiber of effort into thinking ahead for the next month or so. The varying amount of 'x' doesn't solely rely on what's in my bank account, but ALSO what's in paypal and whatever other accounts I may have. Because, despite it all, what I have in my paypal is still not only money, but money I've earned, just like the money I have in the bank.

From there, I can budget what I can buy for whomever for whatever the holiday is. Naturally, I want to buy an appropriate gift for the recipient, because at the end of the day the gift really should be what they want more than what I want to give them. There's not much sense in gifting something to someone that's just going to collect dust in a shelf or turn into closet insulation. And yes, often their gifts wind up being Big Box Store items, or Company X gift cards etc. But, can I squeeze in a handmade gift here and there? It's always budgetable.

A lot of people in my family tease me for starting my Christmas shopping early. I'm one of those weird people who has my Christmas knitting done by June or July - why? Well, because wool has its best sales, I've found, in January thru June, so that's when I buy it to make whatever holiday knitting I'm going to make. I may as well have it knit while what I want to make is fresh in my head, and it gets put aside until December.

Plus, I've worked in retail for so long, that I refuse to go to the mall in December. I rarely go to stores and malls to begin with, so if I happen to be in a mall in September or October, and I pass by a store where I see a potential gift that I know someone will like come xmas, it gets bought then and there, assuming of course it fits into my budget to do so. That way two birds are killed with one stone so to speak: an xmas gift is out of the way, and it's one less item that's going to make its way onto my December credit card bill. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

The same goes if I see said gift on etsy or zibbet. I know it's handmade, I know I'm supporting the artist who made it, and if I see it before December - well, all the better, I don't have to worry about said package fighting the holiday rush of the postal service.

So, what's the point of this whole blog post? Well, to be honest, it's more of a vent than anything on my part. I suppose I'm mildly frustrated at the fruadulence of it all. Every dollar spent at Big Corporation X or Sweat Shop Country Y, is a dollar we're taking away not only from our own country, but a dollar that we're taking away from our own handmade artisans.

If you can afford to buy a birthday gift, or a holiday gift, you can afford to buy handmade. Whatever your gift-giving budget is for each holiday, try just for a year to spend at least a third of it on handmade, or better yet at least half. Invest in quality. It's always best to have less but have quality, than to have lots which isn't. Before your next shopping trip to Big Box Store or Trendy Company Brand Mall, research what you're buying into. We live in an internet age, it'll just take a few minutes, trust me, it'll be easy enough.

Whether we like it or not, what we financially support is who we morally support. Keep that in mind.

Monday, January 16, 2012

ah, the issues of copyrights & selling FO's...

So, I suppose this is more my venting than anything, but bear with me nonetheless.

I've a few patterns that I've designed, most of which are available for free but still my designs nonetheless, to which I specifiy that they're for personal use only and not for resale. This does mean, on my end, that I tend to search etsy, zibbet etc to see if that's actually happening, that there aren't people selling my designs.

On occasion, there will be someone selling an FO from one of my designs, and I politely let them know what's what and the item(s) are usually taken down with no issue. That's fine.

But, recently, I did find an item in question, wrote to the seller, and even though she did take it down, her defense to allowing it for sale was a) she designs patterns herself and doesn't care if people sell the FO's, and b) "It's not like you are selling on Etsy." (her words.)
REALLY? What difference does any of that make?
First of all, whether you allow people to sell finished items from your own designs (free or purchased) is your decision as a designer, since you hold the rights to that pattern. Each designer does. Just because you allow sales from your patterns doesn't mean all designers do.

Secondly, whether I have an active shop on a site or not, doesn't matter. If you don't have the right to distribute something, then you don't have the right to distribute it! A designer does not need to have an active store on every single selling site to enforce their policies on their designs.
If you wind up selling something made from someone else's design, and you honestly didn't believe you were doing something wrong, it's ok to admit that and just take the item down when the designer specifies it. But, to respond to a designer and not only admit that they've done something wrong, but to also try to justify it by suggesting they can do what they want because the designer doesn't sell there, well, that just doesn't hold water.
Anyway, vent over. Hopefully there's some clarity seen by this particular seller, and she'll rethink when trying to infringe on other people's original ideas.