Modification Monday: Grey Memories Cocoon Hat

Modification Monday: Grey Memories Cocoon |

Original Patterns: Cocoon and Green Memories

Knitter Extraordinaire: Erika (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Erika combined the texture from the Cocoon hat pattern and the colourwork  and crown shaping from Green Memories. details can be found on her project page,  here.

What Makes This Awesome: Texture AND colourwork, people! I love it. This hat feels really modern because of the playful mix of a little old-school colourwork and some great texture on the crown, combined with a slouchy silhouette.  Combining patterns  when knititng a hat is a great way to dip your toe into the world of modifying your own knits, because the scale of the project (both in yarn and time commitment) are on the smaller side, and that should give you a bit of confidence to know that even if you didn’t like what was happening as you knit it,you could rip back just a bit and not feel like you’ve lost days of knitting as a result. Of course, it helps to combine two beautiful patterns that you love and use great, timeless colours like the grey and red of this hat. It also helps if both patterns are of similar gauge, but not a dealt breaker- Erika was using patterns of a different gauge here, and the result is amazing.

Modification Monday: Grey Memories Cocoon |

Pin Ups: My Favourite Things on Pinterest This Week

Pin UPs: espresso cookie dough truffles |

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles. oh yes. it requires 3 tablespoons of espresso (not the powder, the actual liquid, but I feel like you could sub in some coffee if you don’t have espresso handy.

Pin Ups: DIY Wooden Box entryway |

I’m completely obsessed with this DIY for putting together small wooden boxes and adding hooks for the perfect entryway storage that actually looks really good! I don’t know about your entry way, but mine is nowhere near as organized as this. Plus, building your own means you could customize for your space- more vertical instead of horizontal, if that’s what you needed.

Pin Ups: HOw to Turn Jogging Pants into a Skirt |

I don’t sew, but this upcycle has me rethinking the situation. I love these easy-peasy tutorial for turning a pair of jogging pants into a skirt. The tutorial features kid jogging pants, but the waist isn’t changed at all in this refashion, so it would work exactly the same for grown ups, too. Definitely worth a look.

Pin Ups: Asparagus and Bacon Spring Salad |

This spring salad is so on my mind- fresh asparagus, bacon and eggs. Is it weird I want to eat it for breakfast? Must be the bacon and eggs.

Pin Ups: how to stay positive |

And finally, a wonderful round up of  nine ideas on how to stay positive when you are feeling grumpy, mad, or generally down about things. Because sometimes we all need a reminder.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m finally going to do my taxes this weekend, so I think I’ll keep that tab on how to stay positive open…

Homeward Bound Review: Thoughts on New Domesticity

Homeward Bound |

That knit in progress is the Chromatic Cowl, which is a kit from Knit Circus! I’ll blog more about it soon, but in the mean time, you can check out the kit here

Have you read Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar? It was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m so glad that she did– anyone who has been fantasizing about ditching their day job and moving to the country for a happy homestead should give it a read.  Any time someone reads a  book, they will inevitably read it through the lens of their own presets– this means that while I tried to come to this book with an open mind, I also came with my personal preference to always make my own money, and I self identify as a feminist.

My personal definition of feminism is a belief that women and men deserve equal freedoms, opportunities, and wages. I believe that men and women should share household chores equally, and share the raising of children equally. I do not believe that nurturing is a uniquely feminine trait.  But I too have also been hearing our modern-day siren song of the new domesticity- where women can stay home if they want, blog about their crafting adventures and their vegetables gardens and goats.

The fact that I have thought about this at any length says something about the crafting culture that I move in, given I’m quite possibly the least likely person to ever move to the country. I love city living- I find it exciting, invigorating, intellectually stimulating, challenging, and awash in fantastic cafes and restaurants catering to every imaginable taste. But loving city living doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to bend the new domesticity ideal to suit my urban ways; I too have dreamed about how great it would be if someone supported me financially (hello, lottery ticket!) while I stayed home and wrote brilliant novels (because in my domestic fantasy, I’m a brilliant writer), baked fresh bread from scratch, knitted, and blogged about other domestic and crafty pursuits.

That is, until I read this book and suddenly saw the bigger picture. Matchar does a good job of giving an historical context to the new domesticity, pointing out that while the reasons are all there –we distrust the mass-produced food system, the school systems, the 9 to 5 jobs are not as fulfilling as we thought they were going to be– that in previous generations, many women would have taken that anger and distrust and lobbied to affect change in their communities: lobbying government to improve education, support smaller and healthier farming practices; activities that ultimately would better everyone regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. But fewer and fewer of us are doing that. Now, the people most disillusioned with the current systems blog about how it would be better to up sticks and move to the country to try to live as much off the grid as they can, to have more control over their food, their children’s education, and the quality of life. And they aren’t wrong.

The only problem is most of the people doing this are white and middle class, meaning they can afford to do it. And those that can’t, well, they are stuck with the same old system and even fewer opportunities to change it.  And I guess it says some uncomfortable things about me, that I never thought of that at all until I read it in this book. It just never occurred to me.

Matchar focuses her research and interviews on Americans, but I think the trends are likely very applicable in other countries, especially Canada, and is careful to show how this new movement and our craving for a simpler life is also related uncomfortably with issues of gender essentialism, class, race, and male disenfranchisement. I was particularly squeamish about some of the quotes from mothers she interviewed who stated quite clearly that they feel women are nature’s nurturers, and that they are fulfilling their biological destiny by choosing to focus on their children.

I personally have a difficult time with that viewpoint, because having my daughter brought out the opposite reaction in me- I felt a renewed energy and ferocity to set an example for my daughter that women can do anything that they set their minds to, that having a career does not have to be at odds with having a family, and that being a woman is not limited to the domestic sphere; that she is just as capable of a intensive, fulfilling career as any man (Don’t even get me started on the ‘having it all’ mentality, I think it’s a joke and no one ‘has it all’, not men or women. We pick and choose our priorities at any given moment.).

I believe there is more than one way to have a loving home. There is more than one way to be a woman, there is more than one way to be a mother, there is more than one way to have a calling or a career. Again, these are my presets. And everyone is trying to live their lives in the way that best agrees with their world view.

Reading through the lens of my own experience, my full time day job is for a charity and much of professional background is all within the nonprofit sector, so I guess I don’t feel that my work is meaningless in the same way. Of course some days suck and I want to quit, that’s everyone’s life sometimes no matter where you live, or if you bake your own bread or not. But most of the time I feel what I do contributes to the greater good. I also suspect that the disillusionment with careers has to do with how few women are in management roles, and how so many companies are not family-friendly enough to offer time shifting or flexible hours to accommodate school pick ups. If we knew that we could pull together to campaign government and big companies for legislated flexible time that would benefit a more balanced and family-friendly approach to work, wouldn’t we ultimately want something that was better for everyone, not just ourselves? Do we not do that because it seems like another big, exhausting chore on an already massive to do list we already have running through our heads?

I dislike Matchar’s description of people or things as being ‘crunchy’ or ‘crafty’ when it’s not always applicable, and seems to create a bias of judgement when really I think that new domesticity just needs to be more carefully viewed in a larger context of the middle class privilege that can afford that lifestyle choice. It’s a new form of luxury, choosing to live a little off the grid, choosing to reduce your household income for greater personal fulfillment.

There is a part in Amy Poehler’s Yes Please (another book that I really recommend reading) where she talks about how we have to learn to say “Good for her; not for me” when we see someone choosing to do something that works for them, but is not what we would personally choose.  It’s so easy to do, especially in the internet age where you can spend hours looking at blogs and reading ideas and articles that already reinforce our own view of the world; that people can choose to think and live differently and that is completely fine- in fact, it’s good for them.

Anyway, I clearly have a lot to say about this (I could keep going, believe me!). I always love it when I read a book that challenges my default thinking has me looking at things in a new light- have any of you read this book? What are your thoughts on the current lifestyle trend of moving towards a more rural, self-sufficient and craft-oriented way of life?

Meet the Sponsors: April Edition!

How is it already April? Not that you would know it around here, it’s cold and rainy ….which is pretty much spot-on for a Toronto April, come to think of it. Here’s hoping I can transition into a spring jacket soon. At least I can comfort myself with all these great patterns and yarn! Nothing cheers up a knitter quite like casting on for a new project…..

Meet the Sponsors: Andrea Sanchez |

Name: Andrea Sanchez Designs

What She is All About: Andrea focuses on timeless garment designs for women and babies and kids (seriously, the size range for her baby/kid sweaters is awesome!)

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: The Weekend Pullover, which has great garter stitch details on the sides (sizes from 6 months to 12 years); Cynthia’s Cardigan, a stunning and versatile (seriously, go check out the other photos to see how the neck can be worn) sweater that was published in Interweave Knits and is now available for online purchasing; and Pacific Grove, a sweet little vest that is perfect for spring layering (sizes are also 6 months to 12 years).

Meet the Sponsors: Fuzzy Mitten |

Name:  Fuzzy Mitten 

What She is All About: Barbara focuses on  patterns for adorable knitted toy animals, as well as clothing for them. I personally have knitted 3 of her animals in the past- Tiger, Squirrel, and Pug.

A Few of my Favourite Things, from Left to Right:  Flat Foot Floogie, and adorable baby toy with lots of texture and interesting bits for babies to explore and the patterns comes with both the lamb and bunny options; The awesome squirrel pattern (which also comes with instructions for knitting the super cute overalls!), which I can personally attest to being awesome- I knit this myself. And how freaking cute is this Hippo, complete with a stripey pirate sweater and the instructions for the adorable parrot are included!

Meet the Sponsors: Knit circus |

Name: Knit Circus

What She is All About: Dyed-to-order gradients are her specialty, there is a whole range of colours, weights, and yarn bases to choose from. If you’ve been eyeing some lovely knits featuring gradients, you should check this out.

A Few of my Favourite Things, from Left to Right: The stunning Come What May Shawlette, designed by Susan B Anderson and knit up in the perfect for spring Come What May gradient colourway; which I also think could look stunning in this beautiful gradient skein, A New Day– the pale rose to plum to blue is no doubt a total knockout. Or what about a happy and bright Sunshine Lollipops gradient striping sock set?

Meet the Sponsors: Inspiration Knits |

Name: Inspiration Knits 
What She is All About: Louise specializes in patterns for accessories that have great texture and play nicely with tonal and variegated yarns.
A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: Painted is a beautiful fingering weight shawl that has texture ahoy; Siren Song is a lace knitter’s dream in a beautiful rectangle that could be knit in one colour or ombre style; and Fresco, a cozy worsted weight version of Painted that can really handle a yarn that’s got a lot going on (and you can actually purchase Painted and Fresco together at a bundled discount!).

Meet the Sponsors: Zenitude Fiber Arts |

Name:  Zenitude 

What She is All About: Lise focuses on scrumptious hand dyed yarns, roving, and even woven shawls. And she has her own adorable alpacas (and she also has their yarn in her shop!), which I visited here.

A Few of my Favourite Things, from left to right: This hand dyed skein on Fingering weight merino/nylon sock yarn in the Rosewood colourway is so, so lovely- and a healthy 438 yards, as well.  This merino tencel roving in a stunning gradient would be any spinner’s dream… I can already see how beautiful this would be single spun or plied. And I love the cheerful citrusy hues in this self striping  merino/nylon sock yarn in the Do It Now! colourway. So perfect for summer!

Modification Monday: Beekman Tavern with a Vintage Twist

Modification Monday: Beekman Tavern with a Vintage Twist |

Original Pattern: Beekman Tavern 

Knitter Extraordinaire: Liz (Ravelry ID, blog)

Mods: Raised the neckline, shortened the sweater and modified for negative ease. Details of Liz’s sweater can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Liz hit upon all the key criteria for sweaters with a vintage flair- crew neck, hip length, and negative ease-  and set about making the changes necessary to create this gorgeous and ultra-flattering pullover.  Changing the proportions of the sweater give it an entirely new appearance. And the bright colour is just the icing on the cake! Even if you aren’t planning on making a sweater with a more vintage vibe, think about what it might look like with a different neckline, or shorter (or longer?) hemline, with less (or more?) ease. One pattern can have a lot of different looks, if you are willing to play with it.

Modification Monday: Beekman Tavern with a Vintage Twist |