Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cute little sewing machine

For my birthday, I received not one, but two sewing machines. One was a super portable, but super simple one from my boyfriend, and the other was a beautiful full-sized machine with dozens of pre-programmed stitches from my parents. At my pre-birthday party (that weekend was crazy), my boyfriend handed me the package, and when I opened it, my parents gave each other this look, and I knew they'd gotten me the same thing... it was a tad embarrassing. Anyway, it all worked out in the end because my parents returned the one they gave me (probably best considering the size of our apartment), and gave me a toaster and some books instead.

Anyway, this tiny sewing machine has served me very well so far. It only does a straight stitch, but that's probably all I'll ever need. I already used it to sew the lining for my horseshoe lace purse, and am now in the process of sewing a satin binding onto that baby blanket I knit. I did it once, but had to rip up the stitches because it was even on one side of the binding, but all wonky on the other. I've been told that I should do a running stitch by hand first, which is a pain, but it should come out fine in the end.

Here's an action shot:

Now, I just have to redo all that sewing and eventually get that blanket to my friend, whose baby has been born!

And in other news, I just finished a pretty lacy hat (using Marnie MacLean's Halley's Comet pattern) with that yummy Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora (it has been discontinued). Here's the yarn (sorry for the fuzzy pic):

And here's some crappy webcam pics of the finished product:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Knitting Super-heroes

I knew it would happen someday: a comic featuring super-heroes who knit. I'm debating whether or not to buy a subscription.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pretty party purse

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd been working on a horseshoe lace purse while visiting my parents in L-ville. I promised pictures of the finished project, and here it is!

It's about 6" tall by 4.5" wide by 1" deep, and the strap is long enough so that I can have it cross my chest and the purse hangs at my hips. Here's a close-up of the lace pattern:

I found a lovely button at Fabricville (or Fabricland in English Canada), which miraculously fit the button loop I'd crocheted earlier even though I hadn't brought the finished purse to the fabric store with me. Here's a close-up of that:

When I got back to Toronto, I made a lining with some scrap fabric we'd bought at Fabricland for $0.50 (or less since it was 3 pieces of fabric for the price of 1). It was my first project with my new sewing machine! (I'll probably talk about it in more detail in a future post.) It didn't turn out so badly, considering I made a few mistakes along the way...

I've always needed a little party purse, something appropriate to wear with an evening dress, and considering the whole thing probably cost me less than $10, it was a good investment. Now, I hope I have an occasion to use it soon!

Friday, June 19, 2009

World's Largest Granny Square

When doing a Google search for "world's largest granny square", I didn't find any sort of noteworthy record. The closest I came was a blogger who had made a bedspread-sized granny square. I'm certainly going to try to make a noteworthy granny square out of this stuff:

This is what I had last time I took a picture of it, but it has since increased by several rounds:

Hopefully it will be large enough for a blanket, or at least a lapghan or a baby blanket. I'm not sure what I'll do with it afterwards... my boyfriend doesn't like the colour, so he wouldn't want it lying around the living room. Maybe I'll give it to charity or something.

One can find a decent granny square tutorial here, and probably on a gazillion other websites. It's popularity peaked in the '70s, when people were making ugly granny square ponchos, vests, and skirt and collar set. Interest in the granny square has since been revived, but fortunately, there are much prettier designs, such as those made by Robyn Chachula, where most of her designs are motif-based (that is, sewing a bunch of squares or other shapes together).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My camera should be my constant companion

... because it seems that people keep calling me up to do amazing random things, and I should really be documenting them. It's now been twice this week that I've received a phone call from a friend inviting me to come along on a crazy photo-worthy adventure. The first time was on Tuesday, when my ex-office mate invited me to accompany him on a tour of the CN Tower, until recently, the tallest building in the world (now it holds second place to the Burj Dubai). We were fortunate enough to meet a couple of tourists on their way out of Toronto who gave us their City Passes because they were leaving the city that evening. That meant that two of us could get in for free!

So we ascended the tower, after first getting our pictures taken in front of a green screen (which they would try to sell us later with the background replaced by a picture of the city as seen from the top of the tower), and being examined by a mysterious bomb-detecting device. The elevator, which travels at 22 km/h or something like that, inevitably made my ears pop, but it was worth it to see the ground receding from under us through the glass floor. We first stopped at the lookout level, where we could see the whole city through the 360-degree windows. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't find my apartment from up there, but it is very far away. We were there at the perfect time: just before sundown. Not only could we see a lovely sunset, we could also experience the city illuminated by daylight, as well as by the city lights once night had fallen.

We then went down to the glass floor level, where, sure enough, there's a glass floor that you can stand on and see the ground 342 m below. It was a little dizzying, and I'm glad I don't have vertigo. I was wearing a skirt, and I imagined that if someone down there had had a camera with a very strong magnification, he would have some interesting views. Hmm... new blog idea... Anyway, then we took a stroll around the outside of the tower, where it was very gusty (another problem when wearing a skirt), but the view was really cool, though slightly obstructed by a wire mesh, and we could see up close the LEDs which illuminate the tower at night. After a visit to their fancy pants bathroom (seriously, they had two different flush buttons, and a sheet of glass instead of sinks), we high-tailed home.

And since I didn't take any pictures (and blog posts of this length without pictures are boooooring), here's one ripped from I took during another downtown adventure:

The second event which I should have brought a camera to was the live showing of Q, a CBC radio program featuring the eclectic. This show is probably most famous for the "mashed potatoes without the gravy" comment made by Billy Bob Thornton in an interview about his new(ish) band, Boxmasters. The show I saw this evening featured Coeur de Pirate, GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Preston Manning, and Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo. It was all fantastic, and the regulars, Mio Adilman and Elvira Kurt, were very entertaining. You can catch the video version of the show on YouTube at QTV. The host, Jian Ghomeshi, was really great with the audience, and answered lots of questions during the breaks and after the show.

And now here's Coeur de Pirate, who is cute, talented and only 19... (sorry to the non-bilinguals, video is in French)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Home for the week

And by home, I mean L-ville. I spent the weekend in Montreal, saw a few of my old friends, and had a generally good time. The main purpose for our visit was to attend the Montreal Beer Festival, and so we hung out there a fair bit, but I also got to see the Massawippi Skank, a band which originated in Lennoxville but is now based in Montreal. The keyboardist was in my old band, and is a very good friend of mine.

After partying it up in Montreal, I took a bus to Sherbrooke. I've been here a couple of days, and it sure does feel good to relax. I've got most of a purse done, using this horseshoe lace pattern, though I'm changing up the handle for an i-cord instead of the garter stitch strap, and the size will be narrower because the yarn I'm using is of a smaller gauge than the pattern calls for. I'm using a bamboo yarn from Romni Wools which I picked up on a whim one day and had been waiting for the perfect pattern to come along so I could use it up.

I love the colour and the lacy pattern shows off the yarn's texture nicely. Bamboo might now be my favourite fiber... it's all silky (without being as expensive as silk) and shiny, but it does split a lot, so one has to be careful when knitting with it. Other travel projects I've been working on include this tiny Cthulhu pattern. I worked up one on the trip between Toronto and Montreal, originally intended for my friend Stevie, but which I ended up giving to a girl we were staying with since her squeals of delight upon seeing it were too hard to resist. Apparently there have been a steady stream of IT guys visiting her office at work to admire it. I took pictures, but I didn't bring my camera cable with me, so that'll have to wait until I get back to T-dot. I'm in the process of making another one to give to Stevie.

In other news, I've just about finished that Icelandic turtleneck. All that remains are the armwarmers, so I've been wearing the actual sweater around. It fits beautifully and it's super comfy.

I ended up doing a rolled collar instead of the turtleneck, and I think it looks pretty decent.

Finally, Mom took me to the only yarn store in Sherbrooke yesterday (besides Zellers, that is), and I didn't buy any yarn (gasp!). I did buy some more knitting needles, which I'll use to make a few new projects when I get home to Toronto. In the meantime, here's some pictures of this gorgeous yarn my mom bought when we visited Lettuce Knit last time she visited.

It's a half silk, half bamboo blend called Pearl from Lorna's Lace, and it cost $50 for 220 yards/3.5 ounces. But it's so gorgeous... I can't stop sneaking into her knitting bag and feeling it. It's hand-dyed in the most beautiful shades (the picture doesn't do it justice), and so soft and smooth... I'm in love.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crocheted Rose Choker (Free Pattern)

This pattern is also on the CrochetMe site, but I figured I'd repost it here.


This is a pattern for a rose choker. It was meant as a surprise present for a friend using leftover yarn from a project she asked me to do. The rose pattern was taken from the "Brier Rose" pattern by Jennifer Fletcher from Anticraft: Knitting, Beading and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister by Renée Rigdon and Zabet Stewart, and the leaf pattern is the "Basic Small Leaf" from Nicky Epstein's Crocheted Flowers. The body of the choker is of my own design.

Materials List

* A small amount of baby weight cotton yarn in red and green (the smoother the better)
* 3.5mm crochet hook
* A pretty button (about 3/4" in diameter) in a complementary colour (I used a red button).

Finished Size

The choker band is a little less than an inch (2.5cm) wide, and it should be long enough to fit snugly around your neck. The rose and leaves can be any size you want.


I got approximately 14 sts per 2" (5cm), but since the number of stitches you begin with is dependent on the circumference of your neck, it's better just to go with that and not worry too much about gauge.

The Pattern

choker (green):
make a chain ribbon the length of the circumference of your neck with an even number of ch.
row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch to end, ch 3, turn.
row 2: *skip 1st st, dc in 2nd st, dc in 1st st, making an X, rep from * to end, ch 1, turn.
row 3: sc in each sc across, 2sc in ch 3 from row 2, ch 8, 2 sc in ch 3, fasten off.

leaf (green, make two):
ch 8
row 1: sl st in 2nd ch from hook, in each ch, 1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc, 3 sc in last ch, working around other side of chain in each ch, 1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc, 1 sl st, join with sl st in first sl st.
row 2: working blo, sl st in each st to 3 sc group, sl st in first sc, ch 2, skip next sc, sl st in 3rd sc, sl st in each st to end. Join with sl st in first sl st. Ch 4 for stem.
Fasten off.

flower (red):
make adjustable ring
rnd 1: 5sc into adj ring, join, ch1 [5]
rnd 2: sc in each st around, join, ch1 [5]
rnd 3: 2 sc in each st around, join, ch1 [10]
inside petals:
rnd 4: working flo, *(sc, ch1, dc, ch1, sc) in next st, sl st in next st, rep from * around (5 petals)
rnd 5: working blo, *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, rep from * around, join, ch1 [15]
middle and outside petals:
rnd 6: working flo, *(sc, hdc, dc) in next st, (dc, hdc, sc) in next st, sl st in next st, rep from * around, ch 1 (5 petals)
rnd 7: working blo, *(hdc, dc, tr) in next st, (tr, dc, hdc) in next st, sl st in next st, rep from * around. (5 petals)
Fasten off.

Sew in ends, sew leaves and rose to center of choker, and sew the button to the end of the choker, opposite the button loop.

Wedding peas

About a week and a half ago, my cousin got married (and of course, like a dork, I totally forgot to take pictures... again). It was a lovely ceremony, and a great party afterwards. I was asked to play violin, and everything went smoothly even though I was worried that I hadn't practiced enough. My brother was asked to MC at the party, and he did a fantastic job, even announcing my birthday, which happened to be on the same day. I got a cake and everything!

Anyway, as a wedding gift I decided to get my craft on, and make them something that I hope will represent their marriage for years to come.

At first my cousin was all alone. She'd just gotten out of a bad relationship and needed to find the perfect man.

Then she found him! When he first came to a family party, my mom gave him the traditional grilling, and since he held his own, we knew he had to be a keeper.

They lived together for about a year, and survived two home renovations (which says a lot).

Finally, he proposed to her.

And she accepted!

So they got married, and good times were had by all.

And now they're on their honeymoon in Italy (I think), and they're going to be living happily ever after! (we hope) Edit: Their honeymoon is actually in St. Lucia.

I guess you can say the dish ran away with the spoon (sorry, in joke). Pattern was obtained here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CASCA and other astro-nerdy stuff

Last week was CASCA, which stands for the "Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society" (I know... astronomers aren't very good with acronyms, though it actually makes sense in French, being "Congrès Annuel de la Société Canadienne d'Astronomie", so that's probably where it comes from, plus, AGMCAS sounds stupid). This year it was held at UofT. It was really interesting, with lots of great talks, lots of free food, and some great socializing.

Some of the highlights (for a full schedule, see here), for me at least, were the session on public outreach (very important, it seems), the Town Hall lunch meeting, the screening of "Hawaiian Starlight", the public lecture by Lawrence Krauss (it was his birthday, and so the entire audience sang for him), the banquet and bar-hopping afterwards, and the cosmology sessions. I also got to see my old professor from BU, Lorne Nelson. Overall, it was a great experience. It felt really good to be among a few hundred of my fellow astronomers.

In other news, another UofT Astronomy Public Tour is taking place on Thursday at 9:10 pm, though I won't be there because I'm taking a little trip down to Montreal, and then to the Townships. If you're in Toronto, you should check it out.

In other other news, I have a second paper on the arXiv! I'm third author, but considering it was work done in my undergrad, I'm not complaining.