I made the little kiddo a pair of socks using yarn left over from a pair of socks I'd made for Yannick...last year? I used a pattern given to me by Nicole, who had taught the knitting class I'd taken when I first started knitting again. (I know I could technically say "my old knitting teacher" but I wouldn't want her to ever read this and think I'm calling her "old"!). The baby variation helps the socks stay on better since the entire leg and top of the foot are ribbed. These knit up fast! I cast-on for them on the 21st of this month, but haven't done much knitting because I've been trying to pack in the evenings. I'd guess that each sock takes about 4 hours, MAX. (I'm extending the time in case you are slow doing ribbing). And how cute are they? I'm going to go through my sock yarn stash and see what other leftovers I have from our socks and knit up matching socks for the baby.
We found a house we like. Wait- we found a house *I* liked. Yannick thought there was too much work to be done. You see, when we bought our current house, we did 3 months of renovations before moving in. And now Yannick does renos for a living. So...the thought of moving in and starting all over with the renos is NOT appealing to him. Me- I'll be too busy with a newborn to care if the kitchen or bathroom is original...
In any case, during a slew of visits we came across one that I loved. I'll call it the "C" house because that's the initial of the street it was on. Well, the C house had good things and bad things about it.
The good: 3 bedrooms, really nice eat-in kitchen and separate dining room, large, open living room, sunny, 2.5 bathrooms (including an ensuite!), 2-car garage with a room in the back for Yannick's tools, and a very, very large corner lot. It was on a quiet street, and to me the best part was the location. It was a 4 minute walk to a) a top-rated elementary school, b) 2 large kiddie parks, c) a swimming pool, d) football field, e) tennis courts, f) my parents' house.
The bad: we saw some shingles lifting on the roof and knew that it was already about 17 years old, so depending on if it was a 20 or 25 year warranty...it would be up soon. There was no central air conditioning- instead they had cut holes in 2 walls and installed wall-mounted a/c units (not in the windows, actually through the house and brick and everything). There were some foundation issues as it was "bowing" out on one side. The ensuite bathroom was illegally built- there was a bare lightbulb in a non-waterproof socket INSIDE (overhead) the shower. Oh, and depending on how you look at it...it was a 4 minute walk from my parents' house. ;p
I loved it but Yannick saw only the work. We kept visiting more houses, and after seeing another 20 or so crappy houses that were asking much more than they deserved we kept coming back to the C house and should we make an offer. In the end we decided (read: I convinced him) to make an offer. The original asking price was rediculous, but right as we were about to offer on it the price came down a bit. That wasn't so much of a good thing, as that meant they would be less flexible, because in their heads they already lost money. Also, they were divorcing, and while the hubby wanted to sell ASAP, the wife was angry and taking it out by being a really big stickler on the price. They had already had, and refused, 6 offers.
So we made a conditional offer (we hadn't sold our house yet). I think the last time I had been so nervous while waiting was on my honeymoon when I peed on a stick. When we finally got the word from our agent there was good news and bad news. They had refused our offer...but we were the first people they had actually given a counter-offer. This was promising, even though their counter was much more than we were willing to pay. We prepared a counter-counter-offer and marked it as "firm and final". They refused it. However, their agent did tell our agent that they were willing to settle on a price that was $4000 above our "firm and final" offer.
Yannick said no. Knowing we'd have to redo the roof at some point, and add a thermopump, and fix the walls with the holes from the a/c, and possibly have foundation damage...he couldn't justify spending more on that house.
I got really upset. I had already gotten mentally attached to the possibility of living there, was mentally picturing packing up my kid in the stroller and going to the park, playing outside, walking to school, etc... and couldn't believe that Yannick was willing to walk away from my dream house for $4000. What is $4000 over 25 years? Nothing.
I'll admit I got a little crazy at that point. I'll blame it on pregnancy hormones. I begged, I cried, I sulked. I got friends to explain to him how "prime" that area of town was.
Then we sold our house. Now, it wasn't official yet, as they had to do the inspection and give us proof of financing. But I reasoned that if the people from the C house were worried about accepting our offer because it had been conditional, maybe we could remake our offer but remove the condition because we knew we had buyers? Would that be enough to get them to ignore the $4000? We had our agent call their agent.
It had sold.
I was miserable! I cried. I sulked. I couldn't believe I had sold my house and the only house I wanted to move into had sold.
We kept looking, but every few days I asked my agent for an update on the C house...just to know what was happening. At this point Yannick was fed up with all the dreck out there and was really considering the C house, so we figured if their inspection fell through but due to renos that Yannick could take care of...or because of financial issues...well maybe we could sneak back into play. When their buyers did their inspection sure enough it failed. We got word from our agent that they had found a problem with the roof that meant it had to be redone right away, not in 2-5 years, and because of that the potential buyers were trying to renegotiate the price.
You see, the minute they tried to change the price, they VOIDED the contract of sale. Which meant that WE were free to make an offer. We had already expected roofing problems and Yannick had calculated what it would cost, which would be less for him than anyone else because of his line of work. We had an emergency meeting with our agent and quickly drew up some papers. We removed the condition (our house had sold by then), added $1000 to our original offer (only $3000 short of their desired "sale" price) AND stated that we'd accept any and all problems with the roof. How could we lose?
They refused. They absolutely wanted their extra money and weren't willing to come down.
So that was it for the C house. There was no way we'd pay any more for that house with all the problems. So we kept looking.
In the end it sold at their desired price. I guess they lucked out in being firm on their price, but man, did someone over pay for a house with that much work. Good luck to them!
In the next house installment...the saga of the W house.
Lucy Neatby workshop Sunday, March 25 2007- a day in photos
If every you get a chance to take a workshop or class with Lucy Neatby, run, don't walk to sign up! Oh my- if I had known how much information I was going to learn I would have begged my dad to let me off work so I could have attended the Saturday class as well. If you can't find a class, buy the DVDs. Worth it, worth it, worth it!
The minute I walked into the class I knew I was in for a fun time- from her blue, purple (and I think there was green too) hair to her hand-knitted (mismatched) earrings, all the way down to her vivid neon (mismatched) socks and vivid neon (mismatched) Birkenstocks (after she took off her bright, sparkly, mismatched boots) you KNEW you were in the presence of someone who heard all the rules and promptly ignored them. She had samples of her knits around the room and I have never seen such vivid, glorious use of color. And with such FINE stitches (both as in neat and as in tiny!)...wow. I was blown away.
I can't even begin to go through what we learned- partly because it was a workshop that I paid for and partly because I learned so much. My brain was literally bursting by the time I drove my friend Maaike home afterwards. There was a morning session on edgings and an afternoon session on buttonholes, and we didn't stop knitting all day. She was extremely hands-on, going around the class one-by-one to make sure we were picking up the techniques, and, when appropriate, playing the matching area of her DVDs on a big screen so we could see some steps in "larger than life". Wow. All I can say is wow.
(I didn't realize how small the text came out on the photos, so I'll recap underneath in case you can't read it)
Self-Fringing, right-side-only shawl.
Ignore the scraggly ends...sparse fringe in dk weight yarn is not the most attractive thing.
Latvian Twisted Edging- I love it. I need a daughter so I can knit something with this edging...
or for myself. I am so incredibly charmed by this simple twist of knitting. Love it.
You can read this one...knitted-in fringe, plain and with sprinkles (beads).
I love this little swatch! The puntas edging is charming and so easy to knit, the knit-on garter edge is a great technique, and the best part? Look in the middle- that's garter colorwork. I've never done stranded colorwork (Fair Isle) in garter before!
Same swatch showing the back.
Knit-on icord fringe...lots of fun!
And now, on to the buttonholes:
Eyelet buttonhole for 2x2 rib (the eyelet doesn't break up the ribbing pattern)
The One-Row, Self-Reinforcing Buttonhole. Genius.
The Japanese Vertical Buttonhole. No more cutting yarn!
Scalloped edging or buttonhole...I like this better as a scalloped edging (difficult to see when there is knitting below it as it ruins the scallop).
Basic eyelet buttonhole, with a slight twist to make it look deliberate (and not like a hole being used as a buttonhole).
And last but not least....
The most brilliant thing I learned...worth the price of admission alone...
The Magic Buttonhole. Brilliant.
Can you tell I enjoyed the class?
We've got our 2nd-to-last prenatal class tonight so I'm off to learn how to breathe my way through contractions. Hee-hee-hoo...boy. :)
We didn't want to move. We weren't looking for a new house. Sure, we'd always talked about how nice it would be to have a garage, but we weren't serious about moving. It was one of those "one day" things you just talk about.
Then my cousin Robyn had her son Sean, and they had a bris. The bris was called for around 1pm, if memory serves. Yannick and I left our house at around 11:00am with the intention of stopping for some breakfast, then picking up my sister and her boyfriend and driving down to the bris.
When we got to the breakfast place I realized that instead of a quick eggs-toast-coffee meal, he'd brought us to Chez Cora- a slow, sit-down breakfast restaurant with a long wait and big meals. Plus he wanted us to use gift certificates we'd received. This was not a good plan for me. Why should we fill up on a big breakfast when we were about to go to a bris with a lunch buffet? It didn't make sense. (I'm not being greedy as in "let's fill up on the free food instead", I just didn't think it made sense to eat such a big meal and then not be hungry for a buffet at a restaurant I've never been to and I've heard has good food). So instead we went to Tim Horton's, grabbed a quick bite and then realized we had over an hour to kill before having to pick up Laura and Mike.
So we drove around. While driving around we just happened to stumble upon a cute little bungalow for sale. For kicks I took down the number and called the agent to find out the price. It was remarkably affordable, and we both kinda thought "hmm...that's cool." We kept driving around, and kept writing down addresses and agent phone numbers. Next thing you know we're on our way home from the bris and are driving Laura and Mike by the cute little bungalow to get their opinion.
Suddenly we were "kinda looking".
Then the following Sunday rolls around and we magically have visits arranged for about 5 different houses. Maybe we were "kinda actively looking"?
One of the houses we'd wanted to visit had sold, but the agent invited us to come to his office the next night and go through the computer with him. We went and found a bunch of listings that we liked. But the big question remained- did we really want to move?
We invited the agent to come to our house the following Monday evening and take a look around and give us a quote on what he thinks the house could sell for. Maybe that will give us a better idea of what we want to do- after all, if we can't get much for our home then we certainly can't afford something with more space, a separate dining room and a garage, right?
He came over Monday night and was really impressed with all the work Yannick and his parents did on our house (I helped too!). From the outside it is a 3 storey townhouse that looks tiny. From the inside it is a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath with fireplace, very roomy and spaceous, completely updated and renovated and lacking a single iota of work to be done unless you feel like repainting. He was very optimistic.
Wednesday night he came back and gave us a quote, and we decided to list the house. We still hadn't decided if we really wanted to move...but there was no harm in testing the waters, right?
Then it hit us- if we sell our house, we need somewhere to go! No more of this "browsing", it was time to get serious! We started spending every evening on MLS and emailing our agent (how official- we were "on the market" and "had an agent") with listing numbers and requesting the full PDF listings and scheduling visits.
Suddenly we were "actively looking".
So that's how we went from killing time on a Sunday afternoon to placing our house for sale, all in a matter of weeks. And while pregnant.
The Pocket Pals are from a booklet of the same name by Val Love of Dovetail designs. The patterns themselves are very easy and clearly written- to a point. And that's what, to me, ruined this project.
Here's a photo of the back of the booklet (the "Very Easy Boy" is in the bottom corner) and my attempt.
I really enjoyed the knitting part. I used embroidery floss and a 2.5mm needle, and kept thinking- how cool is this? I own every color of Anchor floss (that's over 450 little bobbins) and was mentally planning to knit not only the 20 pals from the booklet, but designing my own little dolls and toys. It takes less time to knit than a gauge swatch, and before I knew it, I was done.
I was immensely charmed by the little square, and jumped right into the seaming, which went very well and very easy. It was so adorable at that stage that I deliberately didn't even show it to Yannick because I wanted to save the cuteness for once it was complete. The gathers for the neck, arms and legs went perfectly, and I had this cute little doll in my hands.
Well, this cute little bald doll with no face.
And here's why I'm not sure I'm going to make any more: the hair instructions. They suck. Does it even count as directions when all it says is "embroider hair using straight stitch"? If I could guarantee that the hair would work out for any future dolls, I'd be making them by the dozen. But I'm afraid of ruining them like I feel I ruined this one.
Yes, I used satin stitch, not straight stitch. But I was working on a peach flesh-toned head and didn't want the scalp to show through. I might try making one more and working the back of head and scalp with the hair color instead of the skin color, then trying the straight stitch and seeing if I have better luck. Anything is better than the doll-of-shame equivalent of the "bowl cut".
Cute from far...but far from cute. Look Ma- a bowl cut.
In other news:
I can't remember if I posted this or not, so forgive if its a duplicate: we have sold our house. Woo hoo! Now we need to buy a new one so we have somewhere to go. (A mild technicality, I know).
I'd hoped to have more photos to show off from yesterday, but sometimes knitting takes longer then you think.
Since I have no time to play catch-up right now, I'll leave you with a photo of some swatches for a workshop I'm taking on Sunday with Lucy Neatby. Yes, Lucy Neatby. She'll be in Montreal, and I'll be one of 25 people in the workshop, held by the Montreal Knitting Guild. I'm rediculously excited.
(Note- the one with the blue squiggles is going to be folded on the center line and I imagine the blue parts will be removed and it will be a kind of buttonhole. I have no idea what the others will be- I was just told knit "this" for pre-homework, so that's what I did. The pink/blue one is Patons Decor, the other 4 are 3 shades of Sirdar Snuggly DK.)
Stats: Pattern: Alphabet Blanket Source: Baby Knits by Debbie Bliss Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby, just under 3 full balls Needles: 4mm for blanket, 3.5mm for triangles. The pattern called for thinner yarn and smaller needles, so I adapted for the weight yarn I used. Cast-on to Bind-off: about 2 months, although I spent 2 weeks working on the JCA project and only worked on this when I was home because of the whole chart-following thing. If I add up actual knitting time I'm sure it's well under a month. Summary: A surprisingly fast and easy knit! The 4 page chart is daunting at first but you quickly fall into a rhythm. There are sections or rows that repeat throughout so you can get through those rows quickly, and it is easy to keep track of where you are. I never even needed a stitch marker. Most (but not all) wrong-side rows are straight purl rows which gives you a break if you get frustrated reading charts.
Edited to add: Whoops- it would probably help if I mention this is MY belly eh? Baby was jumping like crazy while I was knitting but each time I took out the camera the kicking would stop. There are two kicks during the video, even I miss the first one but the second one is pretty visible. There have been a LOT more acrobatics at night so I'm going to try to get a better video one of these days.
Karine wanted to see what Yannick's knitting has been up to. Well, he has only worked on it sporadically over the last few months, maybe a total of 3 or 4 times. But he's almost finished the first ball and since it is of a decent size for a little blankie I might just give him the option of working the border now to close it off, or repeating what he has with a second ball. We'll let him decide. :)
Dianne wanted to see a belly shot- so here it is. My 29 wk bowling-ball-looking belly. Holy crap only 11 weeks left? Please ignore my greasy, pulled-back hair. I was running late for work and didn't have time to do much but throw it back in the tightest ponytail I could manage. Trust me that it looks much nicer in real life.
Don't have time for a long post right now as a) have no pics to show off and b) just got home from prenatal classes and am feeling a little squeamish and hungry since I didn't have time for supper before hand. I'm off to go eat but just wanted to thank Robyn, Dianne and JayJay for the nice words on the latest batch of knits (and food).
Dianne, I can't reply to your email directly, but if you check back here the Alphabet Blankie is from Baby Knits by Debbie Bliss. It's available from both Amazon and Chapters.
Early this afternoon my sister Laura called me up and asked what I was doing. When I told her I was staying home she asked if she could come over to decorate cupcakes.
It seems she'd seen some decorated cupcakes in a magazine and wanted to try it out. First she had to go to the store and buy the ingredients (and mix up the "baked goods" and "baking goods" aisles). Then she came over with her loot. She was very proud. Yes, this is how she brought everything over. The ingredients she'd bought were in the grocery bags. The 3 eggs she'd stolen from her boyfriend's house were... ...in a bag. She actually asked me at one point if they still looked ok because the bag had fallen on the floor in her car. Luckily no eggs were broken in transport, and we quickly mixed up the cake batter.
Her friend Arianne joined us and we played Clue: The Simpsons version while waiting for the cupcakes to bake and then cool. Once cooled we opened up all the bags of candy, mixed up some icing colors and got to work:
This was my kitchen during the process. Even though you can't see her, Arianne was there. Even though you can't see me, I was there too. And here are our spectacular results. 23 hand-decorated cupcakes (we shared one to make sure they came out well). Aren't they cute? I made (from the top) the white face with the macaroni-looking hair, the purple bunny with buck teeth, the green cupcake with berry flower, the twins, the M&M mushroom, the landscape with sun and rose, the green one with colored sprinkles, the multicolored one with brown sprinkles, and the one near the bottom with M&Ms covered with icing. Whew, I decorated 10 out of 23. (Can you tell I ran out of ideas by the end?) They were all decorated with some combination of icing, sprinkles, Twizzlers, Swedish Berries, Jelly Bellys, Sour Watermelons and M&Ms.
Now I'm going to wait out my sugar high by knitting for a bit before I decide what, if anything, I feel like doing about supper. Yannick is spending the evening at my parents' house as my dad is holding a poker game while my mom is in Florida. I don't want to play and don't feel like sitting there so I'm going to relax and veg at home.
I'm so excited to be nearly finished the chart for the Debbie Bliss Alphabet Blankie (although why I can't just call it the Alphabet Blankie is beyond me). The light wasn't great today, but what you can barely see in this photo is me about to start the last block of letters, and the DEFGH, IJKLM, NOPQR, STUVW and XYZ rows already completed. All that comes next is the (probably really long) border and then I'll be finished!
The next close knit is so close its embarassing. It is a cabled hoodie from this book:
and in the book it looks like this (sorry I couldn't get it to turn in the image editor I was using):
For my version I decided to use some Patons Decor I had lying around as leftovers from other projects. I didn't have quite enough of the cream color to do the whole sweater so I used a dark brown with it. All that is left is to seam the sides, sleeves and the hood, weave in all ends and sew in the zipper. I had put it aside when it was blocking and regretfully never picked it up again. It bugs me because it was a fast knit but I don't record the item completion date for my projects until it is really COMPLETE so what should show a 2 week or so start-to-finish time lags for months and months just waiting for little stuff like seaming. ARG.
Last I have a horrible photo of the Mitered Square Blankie. It is close only in the sense that I finished its width and will now be working my way upwards to get it to the proper length. I told myself that once it was wide enough I would start weaving in all the ends, so as soon as I finish the block that is still on the needles I will be weaving, so the next time you see it it should look a lot better than this! (And I'll find better lighting).