Modification Monday: Scummy Ebb

Modification Monday: Scummy Ebb |

Original Pattern: Ebb

Knitter Extraordinaire: Momo (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Changed the original crew neck, short sleeved,  7-colour striped dress into a long sleeved, turtle neck, gradient shift tunic. Project page with great details can be found here.

What Makes This Awesome: Everything Momo makes is drop dead gorgeous and highly inventive, just reading through the details of any of her projects is an inspiration to any knitter considering making modifications.  This one has a lot of great features, and shows many different ways to change up a pattern. First, just because a sweater has a crew neck doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way. Adding additional fabric to the neck, like this turtle neck (or you could do a cowl/funnel neck) is a great way to amp up the cozy factor of any sweater! I love how Momo created the gradient shifts by blending together different colours of yarn,  holding two strands together of different shades to achieve the blending effect. She even added pockets! A beautifully warm and cozy sweater for those chilly fall and winter days. Which are hard to imagine right now, but as you know- winter always comes back around!

Modification Monday: Scummy Ebb |

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

A huge thank you and internet hugs all round for the amazing comments (both on the blog or individual emails) that I got after getting really honest yesterday. I teared up reading some of your words. While I know that I am not the only one going through this; it was so, so good to hear your stories and what you are struggling with, too. Not because I’m glad others have these sorts of challenges, but because personal struggle inherently feels isolating precisely because we don’t talk about it much. I’m responding back to everyone, hopefully before the weekend is up.

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

Here are six ideas on sparking happiness. Especially useful read if you are feeling like life is not that awesome at the moment.

How to plan a vacation. I’m a big fan of the tip that involves ‘packing a uniform’. Helps keep packing under control and you always look pulled together.

Assuming you are not going away with small children, here is a great idea to add depth, meaning, and art to your vacation- keep a journal while on vacation. I totally want to do this. But then again, I want to do everything.

If you are trying to put yourself out there a bit more, here is a good read about getting outside your comfort zone.

I loved this poem about raccoons by Dani Couture. Toronto has a lot of raccoons that cause all sorts of havoc, and I secretly love those little masked bandits.

My Favourite Pins This Week

Pin Ups and Link Love: Lemon Zucchini Cupcakes |

Lemon zucchini cupcakes! I love cake with zucchini in it. I pretend its all about the veggies but really I’m stuffing my face with cake. It’s the definition of win-win. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Veggie Lovers Pasta Salad |

I love pasta salad, but only when it has truckloads of veggies in it. Not those wimpy kinds that are mostly noodles with a few flecks of bell pepper. This salad is the pasta salad of my dreams. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Rustic Floral Display |

I love summer flower bouquets made from garden flowers and wildflowers. It’s like a visual meditation, just looking at them. Here is a great guide for putting together a rustic floral display for your home. They are calling it a wedding flower guide, but that seems far too narrow of an approach for this. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Crochet cats |

I regularly find myself saying this, but I swear one day I’m going to learn how to crochet! And when I do, I’m crocheting these adorable kitties first. Free pattern, too! Pinterest link is here, original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Travelling with Yarn|

And this is totally me any time I spend a night anywhere but my own home. Pinterest link is here, and while the source is clearly this site (they were smart enough to include their address in the image!), I can’t find the direct link on their site.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I hope the sun is shining and you are feeling content.

On My Mind: Doing Too Much

On my mind |

One of the things I struggle with expressing on the blog is complexity. Seldom is a personal challenge in a silo all by itself- it usually overlaps in rings across many other events, desires, and anxieties; both past and present. But one of my goals this year on the blog was to get more of myself out there, and not just hide behind the knitting all the time.  So, here we go…

For the last 12 years, I’ve lived in Toronto. If you haven’t been to Toronto, it is the biggest city in Canada- 2.6 million people live there. It’s noisy, densely packed with condos and cafes and restaurants and everyone always complains about the subway and the cost of housing, and I love it. You know how people talk about how depressing it is when November rolls around and it’s dark by 5 p.m.? In Toronto, the city lights are all so beautiful it reminds me of how exciting it is to go out at night. It reminds me of how I felt when I moved here when I was 20 years old – like anything was possible. Like I could be anyone. I think a lot of cities feel that way, it’s why so many people move to them. That feeling of your own potential is so palpable, so rich, it’s how I fed my younger self when exorbitant rent left me scrimping on groceries.

That feeling of anything’s possible is still addictive for me. I love the yarn before the project is cast on, I love the book before it’s read, I love the poem or the story before it’s written. I love them best in that state, even if I’m really thrilled with the finished results. And it’s that feeling that keeps me motivated. Even now, when I’m 7 years married and have my two kids, and view being on maternity leave as a fun time to try pushing harder on some side projects. Because when you are the kind of person that wants to do it all, possibility really does make everything look fantastic.

Until you start, that is.

Months ago, I decided I was going to take Lila out of daycare at the end of June and have July and August with both her and James, before Lila begins junior kindergarten in the fall. I planned on taking the kids up north to Sudbury so that they could spend time with one set of grandparents. We’re planning on visiting the other set of grandparents at the beginning of August, and then taking a big family trip to England (and Spain – because adding in an extra timezone/flight/hotel/language while travelling with little kids… why not??). I thought it would be great to spend this time together, and it would all magically work out. We’d go to the zoo! Draw with sidewalk chalk! Splash in the splash pad at the park every day!

Except Lila is struggling. She misses her friends at daycare, the regular exposure to her peer group. She asks me about daycare and her friends almost every day. She’s excited about kindergarten, but it’s still a long time away for her. I sat her down with a calendar and tried to explain the fun things we would be doing … she seems to still think that she will get to see all her daycare friends the way she used to. But daycare in Toronto is a tricky thing. It’s hard work to get it, and once you leave it, there’s no going back to the same group or room- some other kid on a wait list has already taken that place. It’s not as simple as calling back and saying, oops, sorry- I was wrong. Please take my kid back. I’ve been booking play dates like a madwoman, and working really hard to keep her occupied at all times, otherwise she just wants to watch TV. We go outside a lot, but then poor little James (second babies, they have it rough) is forced to piece together naps in his stroller and isn’t getting the time and attention he deserves. Stay at home moms- how do you DO this??? On my mind |

On top of that, I have spread myself a bit thin on the project front. There is just so much I want to do (I know I’m being vague, but I’m not ready to talk about all my projects at the moment) and I’m crazy optimistic enough to believe that it’s going to work. That Tina Fey quote – ‘Say yes and figure it out later.’ – is practically the creed I live by. Some of the things I’ve been working on: finishing my second poetry manuscript (just reviewed the final proof last week), starting to write a novel, and helping Guy set up his own business, all while looking after baby James (I’m still on maternity leave until November).  Each of those could be several blog posts long in their own right, I have so much to say about each of them. So it was not my brightest moment, deciding to take Lila out of daycare to join what is clearly the circus of my days. You probably noticed how quite the blog has been- it’s not for lack of ideas, but a sheer lack of hours in the day.

When I was still in Sudbury at the beginning of July, faltering, falling short on things that I so badly wanted to pull off, Lila clearly miserable; I was talking to my family about it. Their perfectly reasonable reaction was, You have too much on your plate. You have to let some stuff go in order to focus on what’s most important. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this viewpoint. But I think that if I really was ready to let some things go, I’d have that feeling of recognition wash over me afterwards. You know how people say, I knew it all along but needed someone else to point it out? Yeah, that didn’t happen to me.  If you are a workaholic with multiple side projects that are all about your passions, it literally doesn’t compute. I called Guy, who said the total opposite (maybe because he was still in the city, which has that take-it-all-on rhythm) “So you need to figure it out. This is what you wanted, and we need to figure out a way for it all to work out. Let’s talk about how we can move things around to get the pieces to fit.” And while we didn’t totally solve it, I came away from the conversation feeling better. Because when you love doing a lot of things, letting any of them go feels like heartbreak.

We’re all back together in Toronto again. I’ve figured out a schedule that is pretty exhausting and includes some relief daytime babysitting a few times a week with our beloved (and thankfully on summer break) babysitter, but at least I’m getting things done and trying to give my kids a wonderful summer. I think Lila actually views our babysitter as a friend, so it might even count as a play date.

I’m still doing too much. It still doesn’t feel like even half the things I want to do. But sometimes, sometimes I’m getting it right:

On my Mind |

(side note- Lila’s got a new pair of glasses and I think they fit her a lot better!). For those of you familiar with my Instagram, you probably already saw the gigantic flamingo and doughnut:

On my Mind |

On my Mind |

And here is a 20-second video I filmed of my mom, Lila and Guy having a water gun fight, with Lila advising my mom to hide under the tree:

Water Gun Battle Royale! from Julie Knitted Bliss on Vimeo.


Modification Monday: Talavera

Modification Monday: Talavera |

Original Pattern: Talavera 

Knitter Extraordinaire:  Cassy (Blog, Raverly ID)

Mods:  Adjusted the neckline to have more scoop, lengthened the body, and widened the sleeves. Details can be found on her blog post here.  But if you want to like it on Ravelry, you can find her project page here.

What Makes This Awesome: Cassy used the neckline from the Waterlily top, which she had knit before and knew would be flattering on her and on this lacy tee.  This pattern was initially a waist length cropped tee, and adding length really changed the look. Waist-length knits look great with skirts, but if you are more of a pants person, lengthening is an easy fix.  Just be sure to add an extra skein to your yarn requirements. To make the sleeves wider, Cassy added an extra lace repeat on each side when it was time to work the sleeve section. The result is an easier to wear tee that is perfect for summer, wouldn’t you agree?

Modification Monday: Talavera |

Pin Ups and Link Love; My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

We all know this, but if you need a science-backed reminder… how multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain. 

here are 5 tips on how to unwind after a challenging day. None of them involve staring at your phone or the tv.

And if the day has been more than challenging and you are feeling low, here is a great post on creating a checklist of some things that help you (wonderful, unique you) feel better. None of them are food.

These satirical ‘Anxiety Magazine’ covers are absolutely hilarious. The last two are my faves.

My Favourite Pins This Week

Pin Ups and Link Love: Cake Mix Cookies |

Wait, you can make cookies from cake mix? Like, any cake mix? Consider my mind blown. I know that box mix is not always the best idea, but sometimes you just need to bake some cookies and get on with the day. This one has links for all kinds of different mix ins with different cake mixes for custom flavours. I can’t wait to try this with Lila. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Pesto Chicken Kebobs|

Summer is pretty much the perfect season for food on a stick, am I right? I love kebobs (or kebabs, depending on what part of the world you are in)! These chicken pesto kebobs are super easy, healthy, and ready for the barbecue. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Raspberry Sunrise Smoothie |

Have you ever tried a layered smoothie? It’s so much easier than you’d think, and is really the same amount of work you’d put in to make two smoothies (but I’m still using my trusty old magic bullet for smoothies, so…. it already is single portions in my smoothie world). This raspberry mango combo is amazing- raspberries and mangoes are in season, or you could always use frozen for both if you prefer. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: DIY Smartphone Proector|

Did you know that you can actually make a smartphone projector? Out of literally 5 things (one of them being the actual smartphone)! Such a fun idea, especially for having backyard videos or movies. Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

  Pin Ups and Link Love: Fail Better | I love a good pinterest-ready quote, because we can all use a little fun-sized wisdom now and then. This was a good reminder for me lately. Pinterest link is here, and the original round up of quotes is here.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends! I hope the sun is shining and the air smells sweet, wherever you are. I’m going to be heading back to Toronto tomorrow, and looking forward to getting back home and giving the cats a cuddle and the kids back on their normal routines.