Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

Now here is an inspiring New Years Resolution List!

How two words can change your life- say thank you.

Money is a tricky subject, and lots of us don’t feel comfortable talking about it or managing it. But that doesn’t make it go away, so if you need to get your finances in order, here are ten tips for everyone.

45 business leaders share the best advice they ever got. Most of this applies to all areas of life, not just business!

My Favourite Pins This Week

These Greek quinoa bowls are the perfect make-ahead meal that can easily turn into a quick dinner with the addition of some additions protein, like hummus or chicken. Made my grocery list, and this is going to be my lunch next week! Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Here’s a really easy dessert that only has 6 ingredients and relies on frozen strawberries, so you don’t need to pay a fortune for the lousy out of season ones that that sit in the produce aisle, looking weirdly shiny and anemic. If you like whip cream or meringue, then you will probably love this dessert. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

If one of your goals this January is to drink more smoothies, this is a really easy way to make that happen! The posts focuses on food prep and putting all the ingredients for the smoothie into a ziploc bag, so that you can grab it and blend at a moment’s notice, without having to prep produce or chop veggies or fruit every day. I’ve been trying it and it makes it so much easier to get a healthy daily smoothie. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

I used to think that ‘room spray’ was basically just hosing your house down in petrochemicals pretending to smell like a hotel elevator’s version of flowers, but it turns out that there is actually really good room spray in the world made with natural ingredients! And of course, you can totally make it yourself. This recipe is a nice basic one that is perfect for creating a custom blend of any essential oils you would like and naturally neutralizes odors, so that your home never, ever has to smell like weird chemicals masquerading as a tropical beach. Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

I’m a huge fan of embroidering on garments (And I’d like to do more of it!), so this simple flower approach is so appealing. Pinterest link is here, and the original source is here (thanks to Natalie for finding it!).

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Ours will be fairly low key – the usual roster of dance class (Lila) and swimming class (James). Oh, James just started walking!! Here is a link to Guy’s Instagram video. I was so happy he took a video, but less than thrilled that our house looks so messy. Oh well, real life!

Finished Knit: Bright Heart Hat

First finished knit of the year!


Ravelry project page can be found here. 

Pattern: Take Heart, by Fiona Alice 

Yarn: Briggs & Little Heritage in ‘Magenta’

After all the great feedback on pom pom colour from this previous blog post, I went with what seemed like the popular choice- the light brown pom pom, which seems like a sophisticated pairing with the Magenta, the way it doesn’t quite go but yet totally does.

The Briggs & Little Magenta is such a fun colour (And I hear it comes in about 8 of their yarns), it feels like I’m thumbing my nose at winter.  This colourway can be tricky to photograph, the same way red sometimes is. The bright is so wonderful to the eye, but it’s hard for a camera to sort out depth in a bright colour. Fortunately, there are lovely cables to give it a hand:

I rarely wear lipstick, but when it is freezing cold and the wind is whipping around and you are wear a bright magenta hat, why not go full throttle and wear a magenta lip that matches your hat exactly? At least, that’s what I did. Wearing a bright lipstick reminds me that I actually do like lipstick, but I spend so much time kissing my children’s chubby cheeks that I just don’t wear it anymore. Maybe when they start saying, “Ewwww!!! Gross, mom!!” I’ll start wearing it again. If for no other reason just to leave marks when I do eventually get my target! 😉 It looks a bit darker and more true to life above than it does in the photo below, I assume a trick of the light because the photo below is much cooler but perhaps I just didn’t take the brightness down to counteract when the sun decide to pop out briefly.

I really enjoyed the pattern, but I officially declare that if I knit this again (and I would knit this again) I would do the deep folded brim as a knit 1, purl 2 ribbing instead of the twisted ribbing, which is in the pattern and shown here.  While I like the texture and the depth of the twisted ribbing, the brim isn’t as warm as it would have been if I had just done a normal ribbing. So if this is in your queue and you want warms ears, take heed.

I have another skein, so I’m planning on making some mittens to match. I’m on the hunt for the perfect pattern- my top criteria is that they need to be warm, my second criteria would be something with a bit of cable. It doesn’t have to be the same type of cable, but a similar texture would echo the hat design nicely. I’ll have a look on Ravelry (and if you know of a perfect pattern, please share!), but if I can’t find it, I might just make up my own. We’ll see.

Oh, and I’ve run out of potential Modification Monday projects, so if you know of any wonderful mods, I’d be grateful if you could send me a link!

Modification Monday: Orange Cloud Sweater

Original Pattern: Cloud Bolero 

Knitter Extraordinaire:  Keri (Ravelry ID)

Mods:  Lengthened the bolero and added sleeves to transform into a full cardigan. Details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Long term knitters, do you remember the original pattern? It was a little over 10 years ago when the Cloud Bolero debuted (September 2006, on the website for the now-defunct Yarn Forward magazine), and it was hugely popular. It has since been updated and the designer, Ysolda Teague, has been re-engineered into Liesl. I suspect that when great mods are made (like this one right here!) it’s easy to see how the original delicate bolero looks completely fresh and a bit more wearable when lengthened into a sleeved cardigan.

Keri did a great job of taking the original pattern and modifying it into a beautiful, more wearable cardigan. Plus, feather and fan stitch! remember feather and fan stitch? Love it.

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

How meditation can make you more creative. So true. Learning to meditate feels about as exciting as flossing, but yields amazing results (much like flossing, now that I think about it).

The key to increasing your luck is to increase the number of people you encounter. An engaging read on how success is a series of links in a chain, and they always lead back to random acquaintances.

On making new friends, as an adult. Because sometimes, you need some new friends.

You guys know how much I love a good modification, and Tin Can Knits has a great round up of all the ways they have hacked their free Flax sweater pattern (so far!). Very inspiring.

My Favourite Pins This Week

If you are lamenting the loss of the rich flavours of the holidays, try this one-pan cranberry balsamic roasted chicken. If you have leftover cranberries in the freezer, it’s going to super easy! Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

I get irritated when on January 1st the internet is suddenly awash in detox recipes and salad bowls for days. I can’t just stop eating rich food and treats just because December is over! Enter healthy treats- they give you the sweet hit you are looking for, but made with much healthier ingredients. These fudgey brownie batter truffles are made with chickpeas, but you would never know it. High fiber, high protein, AND tastes like a treat? Bring it on, January. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

I have to give a shout out to the website that creates literary cocktails, and they made a Bruleed Citrus Gimlet inspired by my book, Lady Crawford! If you love the Jazz Age and retro cocktails, then this is for you. Plus they have an excerpt from one of the poems in my book that most suits the cocktail- they totally nailed it. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe/reading post is here.

If one of your resolutions for 2017 is to try fair isle knitting for the first time, then there’s probably no better project to try than this fair isle hat (free pattern).  It’s super fast to knit, and comes in baby, child, and adult sizes. Pinterest link is here, and the original pattern post is here.

I loved this round up of great motivational quotes that help give you a nudge when you feel your productivity or creativity is floundering. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Hello 2017!

Where did 2016 go? Other than some massive life shifts, a formal career change, finishing a new book, raising James through the first year of his life while caring for a 4 year old, then taking that family trip to England and Spain, and a side order of some knitting, I’m not too sure what I did with myself.

Oh wait… that’s where the year went.

A year-in-review post is my standard fare for this time of year, where I round up the things I’ve knit and designed the past year, comment as to what worked and what didn’t, and then I make some general plans for the coming year that I’ve long forgotten by April. So I’m going to do something I don’t normally do, but that I think we should ALL do- reflect on the big things that happened in 2016 in our own lives.

January- April: James was 4 weeks old, and not nursing well- I had many nursing specialist appointments. Also had to have several follow up appointments with another specialist, this one for ‘granulated scar tissue’ repairs after James’s birth. Do you know, with all our modern medicine, how doctors fix granulated scar tissue? They burn it off with a stick of silver nitrate and I’m not even kidding. They don’t numb or freeze you first either. The only other thing I can recall doing during these months is watching all of Scandal and working on Lady Crawford with my editor. I’m pretty sure there was a deadline in there somewhere.

May – July: I think I did some knitting! Was finally better enough to start going for big walks with the baby.  Guy formally registered his own business, and we popped the cork on some champagne!

July – September: Took Lila out of daycare thinking it would be a great idea, and it turned out to be a total fail. I will never under estimate the power of a small child’s need for friends ever again. I also realized it was totally possible to pursue my big dream of writing, if we stayed in our tiny home. I took the leap! We popped another bottle of champagne.  Also Guy and I brought the wee ones to England and Spain– we survived, possibly even thrived! The very next day after we returned, Lila started her first day of kindergarten. She loves school!

October – December: In October, James started daycare, I turned my attention to working part time for Stitchcraft Marketing, launched my poetry book Lady Crawford. Then everyone in our house got a horrible stomach flu one after the other, but Lena Dunham told the internet that she was reading my book and that was pretty awesome. December was a flurry of gatherings and then James, Guy and I got a stomach bug again the week before Christmas, and James was sick all through Christmas and into the New Year.

While it felt like the world was becoming a darker place with anger and fear calling the shots all over, 2016 was a year of revolution for me and my family.  Maybe because things seemed more frightening in other countries in the world, it was easier to see what was important to me, to us. To make choices that I’m fortunate enough to be able to make.

I didn’t get as much knitting done this year as I would typically like, but this was a hectic year, as you know. Here are the knitting projects I did complete! There is also the Harebell Cardigan that I finished on December 31st, but I need to get the buttons and a proper photo shoot will follow. Here’s what I finished knitting in 2016:

Top Row, left to right: Scottish Mist, Perfect Striped Mitts, Animal Pot Cozies (also double as coffee sleeves), Arika Cowl, and Fudge the Puppy.

Second Row, Left to Right: Golden Rose Cowl, Rocky Joggers for James, Wood Elf for Lila, Delineate TankGriffon Hoodie.

Third Row, Left to Right:  Kveta Shawl, Offhand Lace, Made Up Shawl in a Ball, Garter Ear Flap Hat, Mini Stocking Advent Calendar.

There was also this one random made up knit. Lila wanted me to knit a rainbow jacket for this stuffed dog, so I did- I knit it in the car on the way to my parent’s place. And once it was done, she was totally over both the dog and the rainbow jacket. Sigh. But it also fits the elf doll in the above collection, so I think that the jacket might get more play in the future.

While I was not focused on designing at all this year, I did update the Fairy Mist pattern to include laceweight, fingering weight, DK, Aran and Bulky. I designed three small free patterns, too- animal themed pot cozies that double as mug sleeves, super easy (really, really, REALLY easy) slipped stitch fingerless mitts, and a stranded hat pattern that comes in child and adult sizes.  The last two were for a Stitchcraft client! I’m someone who works well with external deadlines and commitments, so it was great to have the motivation to create a couple of new patterns at the end of the year.

Top Left: Fairy Mist (shown in Bulky) Top Right: Animal Pot Cozies / Coffee Sleeves

Bottom Left: Slipped Stitch Handwarmers  Bottom Right: Hobium Colorwork Hat 

To celebrate the end of 2016 and welcome in 2017, Here is a coupon code for 60% any of my not-free patterns – good until this Saturday (January 7th).

amazing2017

Lots of perfect winter accessories, like Pemba, Hyperballad Cowl, Xanadu, or Fairy Mist!

I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but in my knitting I want to focus on more garments, and more full mittens. I feel like with all the big shifts in my life in 2016, I need to find a new normal for 2017, and I’m excited to map out that new path.

So, here’s to new ground in 2017.  Here’s to doing the hard work to build the kind of future we’ve always wanted.  I want wonderful, amazing things for each and every one of you this year. Let’s make 2017 incredible!