Monday, June 22, 2009

the dude abides

Yesterday, DH, DB and I rewatched The Big Lebowski. It's been a while since I've seen it, and DB had the dvd... great, great movie.

Y'know, one would've thought that by now, someone would've created The Dude's sweater, since - according to my most recent google searches - everyone seems to be looking for it.

Maybe I'll do something about that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

rose jam

Got around to (finally) jarring the rose jam I've been working on for the last week. I've no idea what sort of roses these are, but I do know that my parents have been making rose jam from these roses for as long as I can remember. This particular rose bush that's been growing in my back yard for the last 4 years, to make this jam, has survived countless moves over the last 30 years or so... I'm just surprised that it still blooms as much as it does!

Just an fyi - these three little jars (the largest holds about 200ml) contain over 50 roses... a lot of work for a small result... but still tasty...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

knitting & the magazine - a vent in appreciation

Have you ever had a Christmas or birthday, or any other holiday where gifts are exchanged, where you impatiently wait for a whole year, and be extra good, hoping to high heaven that you finally get that puppy or bike that you were just dying to get, to only wind up with another gift bag full of tube socks? You know what I'm saying, right? Well, that's how I've been feeling with knitting magazines lately.

I've been itching to write a blog post that (hopefully) both show my appreciation for knitting 'zines but still allows me to vent, as I've a few things to get off my chest. I used to have a love for knitting magazines, both online and in print, but lately, when I come across the new issue, I've been finding myself with more bags of tube socks rather than cute puppies and shiny bikes.

First, let me state that I absolutely appreciate the amount of work that all designers put into their knitwear, and how awesome it is that there are many outlets available that allows these talented people to get published. And, the work of the publishers - whether they're paid or they do it voluntarily - to have to pick and choose from such a variety of designs and peice them together into one publication after another, kudos.

BUT - and here's my vent - whether the publication is in print or online, free or not, there's a part of me that wishes that either designers or publishers (or both) would please step up their game, and offer their readers not only great eye candy, but an actual challenge to the craft. The game needs to be stepped up a notch. We need to have more variety in what gets published on a quarterly (or more) basis.

For examples:

Knitty - a fantastic online publication, love the fact that it's both online and free to the reader, and the publication also pays their designers that get published! BUT - seriously, could we have even one issue where we're not being bombareded with shawl and sock patterns? I mean, I love shawls, and I've knit my fair share of socks. But, do we need a zillion shawls? Or a zillion pairs of socks? Are there no designers out there submitting patterns to knitty that aren't socks or shawls? Or, how about having a better distribution of patterns? Like for every sock pattern, provide a sweater pattern? Or for every shawl pattern, provide a guy's pattern of some kind? ----- Based on the almost knitty group on ravelry, almost-in patterns (for the most part) are fantastic - and there's a wonderful amount of them that aren't socks or shawls, so we know they're getting submitted. And, truthfully, the level of some of the knitting patterns that ARE getting into knitty in the last couple of issues, they seem bland and simple in comparison. (I'll address this last point a little later in the blog, be patient!)

Plus, I was quite looking forward to seeing, for the first time, a 'holiday headstart' section to this issue, but was sorely disappointed that all of them are small, short term projects. Granted, they're awesome for instant gratification, but truthfully, I wouldn't start such small projects in May or June for the holidays. Am I the only one who expected to see sweaters or something? Anything that would actually need a few months of invested work for the holidays? Knitty already publishes short-&-sweet winter projects in their winter issue, with the thinking of having quick knits for the holidays, so why start these itty bitties so early? Is the winter issue going to be filled with afghans and sweaters?

theAnticraft - a cool site, one of the few that I follow the blog more avidly than the quarterly issues themselves. What I have loved about this publication thus far is that a variety of crafts get in, not just knitting or crocheting. Any given issue there's something to sew, bake, knit, crochet, clay, weld, etc. Kick ass. But, is it just me, or has the site lost a little bit of its - I dunno - demure since the book was published? Once again relying a bit on ravelry, very few if any knitters or crocheters seem to be interested in the current issue (or even in the last, for that matter) all but two crafts revolve around making merkins.

Granted they all did require some work and creativity into designing them, and a fiber of bravery to be pictured sporting them, but how many of us will truly go out of our way to making one? If we do, what do we do with it? Would we gift them at Christmas? Hand them out as birthday party favours? Were these supposed to make ideal mother's day or father's day gifts? ----- It's just a big miss for me in this issue. The bacon issue - I believe titled "unclean", now that was probably one of the best issues I've seen in a while from Anticraft. And the first few years' worth of issues had some fantastic knitting patterns (think bat shawl, snowflake/skull wrist warmers, a killer rabbit) and very cool recipes. But, sadly, the element of hardcore creativity that I once expected from this site has fizzled a little. Please, I beg, recover. Even the anticraft ravelry group hasn't been posted in at all in at least a month. (A sign, maybe?)

And then, there's the print magazines. Again, love Interweave Knits, and have bought many an issue. Wonderfully photographed, well detailed, etc etc etc. But I've been finding that I've been buying fewer and fewer issues, despite many knitters putting this publication on a pedestal. IMHO, IK has a similar issue that knitty does, although instead of an oversurge of socks and shawls, there's a zillion sweater patterns and little of anything else. Bleh. Pretty, yes. Overdone, absolutely. Variety? Minimal.

And lastly, ofcourse, Vogue Knitting, knit.1 and knit simple. Great photographs, fun projects, and overall a healthy variety... and three publications that very distinctly appeals to 3 different genres of knitters. But, I've been finding there's just more of the same in each issue, and I've been spending more time lately wanting to read the articles published rather than be excited about a particular project inside.

Now, above I did make a statement when writing about knitty that "... the level of some of the knitting patterns that ARE getting into knitty in the last couple of issues, they seem bland and simple in comparison." The same can be applied to some of the print magazines as well, and let me explain why I wrote this before too many readers get their skeins in a bunch.

Yes, it's wise for any publication to offer patterns for all skill levels of knitters. It's encouraged. That way n00bs have something to work on, as well as people who knit intricate lace, fair isle, and celtic cables in their sleep. But (yep, this post is filled with but's!) would it be so horrible if these and other publications made an attempt to challenge their readers?

What I mean is this: let's put all knitting patterns on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the basic garter stitch n00b patterns, and 10 being the most challenging. Could we maybe try to publish patterns that are at least considered a "3" on this scale?

Reason being, it's a little insulting to me as the reader, that I've wasted a subsription to this magazine to be bombarded with the most basic patterns - again. And it bothers me a little to have so many fantastic patterns that are rejected because magazines would rather publish another garter stitch scarf. Authentically talented designers are being put aside for basic knit-&-purl patterns. Frankly, I think it insults the intelligence of the reader to provide so many 'dumbed down' patterns. If I wanted to learn how to knit, I would buy a book that would teach me, not a magazine.

The best way for anyone to learn is to give them a challenge, no matter now small. Let's encourage our knitters who are a 1 to push themselves a bit with a 2 project. Throw in a basic cable somewhere, or an easy lace detail, or at least use more than one colour of yarn in one project. Maybe even use dpn's and circular needles and knit in the round instead of knitting everything flat. Too many garter stitch & stockinette stitch projects makes Jack a dull scarf.

I would sooner invest my money and/or attention into a magazine publication if I saw @ least 1 project per issue that made me think "OMG, I want to blow half my paycheck on yarn to make that!" rather than skim through another issue after having to impatiently wait 3 months to see it and think "OMG, nothing, again."

So, after all of that, my suggestions to improve issues rather than just bitch and complain on my blog. Things that I would love to see in future issues of any and all magazines:
- more guy stuff. There's not enough guy patterns, and I (as well as others) have many great guys to knit for. Guy themed issues are great. Guy stuff in each issue, better.
- a better variety of patterns, or at least a better balance. Maybe pick a minimum of 5 or 6 things to knit (ie hats, scarves, tops, etc) and have a minimum of 2 or 3 patterns of each, so that there's variety. Again, not everyone's an avid lace, shawl or sock knitter.
- a better variety of sizes. Because some of us are 1x or more, like it or not.
- reshift your focus occasionally. If you've published a lot of sock patterns in the last year, for example, maybe come out with one issue where there are 3 or less sock patterns? That way, the focus is on something else temporarily.
- provide 3 or 4 versions of the same pattern - instead of waiting for ravelry members to knit your project in 3 or 4 different types of yarn, why not provide it from the get-go? IMHO it may make it more appealing to more people.

Think of it for your advertisers - and if you don't have advertisers, than at least for your site's shop. If your issue isn't stimulating enough for a better variety of knitters, then no one's going to pay attention to what it is you're actually selling.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This past weekend, we celebrated the two June birthdays ... and instead of making a whole cake and having to be finicky about how big to slice the slices, I decided to make cupcakes:

There's two different flavoures there: chocolate and lemon... I wound up with 24 cupcakes in all, so I bought extra tupperwares so that both my parents in law and sister in law could take home a bunch to snack on at home. :) Truthfully, as much as I love chocolate, the lemon ones were my favourite!

Monday, June 15, 2009

bat & bird house

FIL has been talking about - for @ least a year now - making a bat house for the back yard for their (FIL & MIL's) place up at Wasaga Beach, which backs on to the Nottawasaga River. So, since this past weekend we were celebrating FIL's birthday & father's day together (along with DH's birthday, which is @ the end of the month), DH and I constructed this bird and bat house. (pictured right). The instructions for it can be found here.

This was so much fun to construct, and we added the bat in front (self designed) ourselves at the end; only the bat and roof of the birdhouse was made of cedar, the rest was made from ... well, I forget which kind of wood it was, but it was bought at Rona. Just did one coat of waterbased stain, to protect it a little from the elements!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

tranquilize a sheep or two

This game is bound to kill an hour of your time:

... what's your best reaction level?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lance the Squid

I finished knitting & felting this squid a couple days ago, although I haven't had the chance to photograph it until yesterday.
It's for DH ... an inside joke, really. He's got weird words that mean nothing, one of which is "squidulence"... I don't know why he says it, but he's been saying it for a while. So, I've decided to give the word some meaning, sorta, by making a Squid Named Lance (which sounds sort of similar...)
Yes, I know... I've got little else to do ;) Bear with me!
The pattern for it is here - the only thing I would make note of is, when joining the tentacles, to join them at the top of the purled section of the bottom part of the torso. I stitched them @ the bottom, not really paying attention to how the bottom of the squid'll close up. But no mind, I knit a little extra peice and joined it in to fill in the gap.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

diabetic coma, here I come....

This dollopy mess that I made, is, in fact, one huge marshmallow:
I used this recipe and the mixer I got for my birthday from DH.

It just looks so awesome, although it won't entirely set until tomorrow, which is when DH and I can officially dive in and pig out. But in the meantime, we licked the mixing bowl and whisk, and it was so decadent.

I totally recommend making homemade marshmallows at least once in your life before you die. It's so good. But you do need that mixer to make it. If you don't have one handy, don't let that prevent you from trying some.... by all means order some homemade marshmallows on etsy from the talented bakers here. It's worth it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

to prove I'm using my new knitting needles...

... I've cast on a couple mitred squares, which will become a blanket as a housewarming gift for my brother. AND it'll eat up some of my Lionbrand Homespun I have laying around the house!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

new funky knitting needles!

My dad has picked up a new hobby a while back: hand carving wood. He has been carving up pretty much anything and everything, and a few months ago I had requested a pair of knitting needles with "something twisty at the end". Well, a few days past my birthday, he finally completed a pair and mailed them to me! These are what I received:
I think these look just nifty, and love the fact that I now have a completely original pair of knitting needles! My big dilemma now is figuring how what the first project to make on them will be!

Monday, June 1, 2009


I have a shop on etsy - which you may or may not know - and I'm having a promo for all of June! It's posted in my shop announcement but I'll repost here:

FREE SHIPPING to ANYWHERE on all orders $25+, and there's a 2 item minimum. Some items already have free shipping as it is, so check those out too!

PLUS mention 'My Knitting Basket' somewhere on the receipt and get FREE SHIPPING to ANYWHERE ON ALL VINTAGE PATTERN PURCHASES - no minimum.

This is going to be on for all of June, so take advantage of it! Check back to my shop often, I'll be adding new items to it when I can!