Pin ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

This essay was wonderful- a woman who was fat shamed tracked down her trolls and confronted them: “By just blocking and deleting when someone makes an abusive comment or when someone sends an unsolicited portrait of their genitals, we’re tacitly saying that’s acceptable. No one sits around the dinner table, and when their loved ones ask them what they did that day calmly replies “well today I told someone to kill themselves on the internet. Pass the peas please.”

Finding time to read.

Conversation starters, no matter what the scenario.

Self worth isn’t the same as self esteem. Here are some ways to help bolster your sense of self worth.

My Favourite Pins This Week

These sweet potato and zucchini tots are a healthy take on tater tots, and they are magnificent. With all that veg, you can basically eat just these for dinner guilt free. If you are not vegan and gluten free, I recommend adding one egg and substituting the almond meal for 1 cup of flour. Just makes them a little closer to the original, I think. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

This pin was love at first site. I love dessert squares, and who doesn’t love the Samoa cookies that inspired these? Don’t make them unless people are coming over- you don’t want to be left alone with a full pan of these. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

These socks are so wonderful, how have I not seen the knitting pattern until this week? I can imagine all sorts of fun combinations with self striping yarn, bright or muted. And a great way to destash partial and single fingering weight skeins, too! Pinterest link is here, and the original pattern post on Ravelry is here.

I’m utterly besotted with the wonderful artwork of Anne Ten Donkelaar, who carefully cuts out photos and magazine prints of flowers and reconstructs these dreamy floral arrangements. I would love to see these in person! Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

I absolutely adore big, high-impact wall paper, especially florals and botanicals. Clearly I’m excited for spring, with all this floral craving! Our current place is a bit small for something this big and bold, but I think our next home, I’m going to do something like this. It’s worth clicking over to see all the inspirational ideas. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

This weekend is pretty low key- Guy is studying in earnest for his Canadian citizenship test, which is coming up early next week. I thought it would be a breeze, but on the sample test we were looking at I struggled to answer most of the questions. I thought it would be a breeze, asking things like Who is the Prime Minister, but it is actually asking detailed and precise questions about Canadian confederacy and our many layered existing governance structure. Sadly I don’t think I’ve thought much about it since grade 6.

And of course, I need to go and get myself some pretty flowers to help curb my flower craving, it seems! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

I’m Obsessed With My Pom Pom Maker

Somewhere on Instagram, I came across the Pom Maker feed and fell instantly, madly in love with their adorable wooden pom pom makers and beautiful pom poms. I had to have one! The fact that it was entirely made of wood seemed especially attractive to me – until then, I had only ever seen plastic pom pom makers, none of which struck me as being particularly wonderful.  When my pom maker arrived, it did not disappoint one bit. It is smooth and perfectly made, the wood is lightweight and very comfortable in the hand. it comes in it’s own muslin drawstring pouch, with an instruction booklet.

 It didn’t come with scissors or yarn, those are mine.

Not only does it look like an adorable doughnut (and comes in different colours), this is the easiest pom pom maker I’ve ever used. Which is great, because Lila is fascinated and now she wants to make pom poms, too. The pom it produces is pretty big, about the size of my hand, with only a tiny bit of trimming to even it out. It would be great as an oversized (but not ridiculous) pom on any adult hat:

The white pom I made afterwards is the same size but even fluffier, once I finally got my pom pom groove. This is about the biggest size you can make, and then to get a smaller pom pom you just keep trimming it down. It works for any thickness of yarn, although I imagine a laceweight pom pom will be pretty labour intensive with all the wrapping. These are made with aran weight craft yarn that were just hanging around in my stash.

Pom Maker has video tutorials on their site, although the instruction booklet that comes in the storage pouch was more than enough to make a basic pom pom. But I wanted to see how difficult it would be to make one of their fancy pom poms, the panda.

I followed the video, and I was feeling pretty proud of my panda pom pom, especially for a first attempt. Mine turned out a bit small because I kept trimming and trimming, trying to get the face even. Still- definitely a panda, right?

And then I made the mistake of asking my family what they thought. Guy said it didn’t look like a panda, it needed bigger eyes. But I felt vindicated when Lila saw it and immediately asked if she could play with it. I let her play with it for a bit and then asked her, “what animal is it?” and she looked at it thoughtfully, and then said, “is it a puppy?”

Whatever. I still like my pom pom panda. I feel like it would be perfect on top of this hat.

Now I’m obsessed with making pom poms, it is the perfect way to use up leftover partial skeins. If you decide to get one of these utterly charming pom makers  too and then are wondering what you would do with all your new pom poms, I’ve got you covered! I was also wondering the same thing so I started a pom pom crafts Pinterest board with all sorts of ideas. I particularly like the gift topper idea and the fridge magnets! Pom Maker also has a Pinterest account, but it looks like they are just setting it up and haven’t quite got it populated just yet. I’m following anyway, and looking forward to more tutorials. Guy says that my panda looks more like a koala, so maybe koala next? I feel like I could make an excellent koala!

Modification Monday: Locksley Hat Modification

Original Pattern: Locksley 

Knitter Extraordinaire: Andrea (Ravelry ID, blog)

Mods: Using the design from the Locksley sweater pattern as a base, Andrea created the hat version. Great details with lots of info on the crown decreases and can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Andrea knit this stunning sweater for her son, and had some leftover yarn from the colourwork. The colour she had the most of was blue, so she used that as the base colour and echoed the stranded design in the hat, topped off with a perfectly bushy pom pom. This is a brilliant idea for when you have made a colourwork knit and have some of the yarn left over- why not make a complimentary knit with the same charts but inverted (or slightly different) colours? I love how Andrea thought to do this- if it was the same colour structure it might have been a little matchy-matchy, but the contrast is just right. Not to mention it reminded me how much I love this sweater!

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

Struggling with perfectionism? 6 habits to help overcome perfectionist tendencies.

Empowering quotes about women aging. The first one by Cameron Diaz is lame, but the rest are sooo good.

Wait, cute flats made from recycled water bottles? Genius!

The deeper reason we can’t remember people’s names after meeting them.

My Favourite Pins This Week

I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (not since my 20s, anyway!) but I love these cupcakes! You could skip the Irish cream (and really, you could make them with a box mix, I won’t judge), because these cupcakes are all about the gorgeous decoration on top! High fives to the chef for making that rainbow piped icing idea super easy. Such a cute idea, even for a kid’s birthday party! Definitely skip the Irish cream, then. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Okay, I loooove macaroni and cheese. I love cheese, really. But this clever recipe reduces the pasta considerably and substitutes a lot of cauliflower, adding some much-needed veg and reducing the overall impact of having a second helping. because let’s face it, I’m going to have a second helping. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe is here.

I know this pink hot chocolate looks so indulgent, and it is. But One you remove all the photo styling decorations, you have a really good recipe for a wonderful evening treat. Sprinkles and whip cream optional! Side note- I didn’t even know that they had white hot chocolate mix (are there even more kinds, and I just don’t know about them?!). I’ve never seen it in a grocery store before, but now I’m on the lookout. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

I love the idea of embroidering on clothes an want to do more of it this year. This was a great step-by-step tutorial, and I’d love to try it but I find it weird that it calls for freezer paper, which I never use and have no idea what I would use it for, except for this embroidery tutorial. Does anyone know if parchment or wax paper would work as well? Or tell me what else I would do with freezer paper? Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY is here.

I’m in love with these dreamy photos from photographer Maria Svarbova. Don’t they look like paintings? So incredible. It’s worth clicking over and seeing the whole collection. Pinterest link is here, and the whole collection is here.

Don’t forget, you have until March 8th to enter the Alice Starmore Tudor Roses book giveaway! Hop on over to enter!

Guy and I are going to be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary on Sunday,and will probably post some photos on Instagram – we are taking a helicopter ride over Toronto! Have a lovely weekend, everyone. I hope you make time to do the things that give you the most joy.

Knitting Book Review: Alice Starmore Must-Have Classics

In our current time, it’s increasingly tempting to keep our patterns digital. I know I certainly have more than my fair share of purchased PDFs that I have knit but never printed off. But there’s a special place in my heart for knitting books, and I think they are a frugal knitter’s friend. If you would knit at least 4 patterns from the book, the cost is less than if you bought 4 different pdfs online. And as a writer, I love the tactile feel of having books and refer to them regularly- they are brilliant for inspiration, or learning more deeply about an aspect of knitting. And I feel like Alice Starmore has written some of the most valuable and timeless knitting books out there.

A perfect example is Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting: New and Expanded Edition. These designs are unisex and timeless, and there’s a great section at the front explaining the history of Aran knitting which sorts out some of the facts from fiction around this traditional style. This is an especially valuable book for any designer who wants to design with cables – not only is it a rich resource of stitches that can be combined in endless variations, but it talks about the construction in a helpful way. One critique I have of the book is that the designs contain multiple charts; as in, each stitch used in the design has it’s own separate mini-chart, and you have to move from one chart to the next while still on a single row. If you are an experienced cable knitter this is easier than it sounds, but if you are a beginning cable knitter this will likely prove to be a hurdle. It might be worth recharting it out for one large chart that contains all the mini charts so you can review line by line.  You can see what I mean in the photo below:

That lovely navy swatch is my swatch for Na Craga, the cover sweater that I have loved for years. I’ve swatched in Berroco Ginkgo (52% silk, 48% wool), in the Lapis colourway. I feel like I’d love a classic cabled sweater like this in a classic, wear-with-anything sort of colour like navy, cream, or grey. I’m really happy with the resulting swatch- it helped convince me that the chart switching wasn’t that big of a deal, and I really like the almost tweedy flecks that the silk gives the yarn, while looking quite sumptuous. The resulting fabric has drape and is not very crisp, which I think would be a real positive in a densely cabled sweater. If anyone is concerned about a cabled knit making them look bulky, consider a yarn with a bit of silk in it for drape (but please swatch – and wet block that swatch!).

If you want to see how the sweaters from this book have turned out for other knitters, it’s worth perusing the finished knits from the book on Ravelry. So many beautiful knits!

You Should Totally get This Book If: You love cables and classic unisex-style sweaters that are utterly timeless, and you can handle using multiple charts.

You Should Definitely Not Get This Book If: You are a beginning knitter, or if you don’t really like knitting cables.

If cables are not your thing, how about colourwork? Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting: New and Expanded Edition is the colourwork bible. Hundreds and hundreds of charts arranged by country of origin.

This book starts off with a great section on designing colourwork sweaters and the different types of colourwork from various cultures, including borders and allover designs. The charts are rendered in black and white, which gives you a lot of freedom to determine what sort of colours and how many you would like to use.

I swatched using SweetGeorgia Party of Five Mini -Skein set in ‘Snapdragon’, and had fun playing around with the wonderful colours in this set. I have a tough time resisting mini skeins, and sets like these are well suited to experimenting with colourwork if you feel unsure of your colour matching abilities.

I often don’t feel very confident putting colours together, and there have been many times I thought I had my colours all figured out, swatched, and ended up totally disappointed. Here are my tips for taking the guesswork out of colourwork, if you also sometimes feel a little intimidated:

  1. Just use two colours. There’s no rule saying that because a chart or pattern calls for 12 different colours you have to use 12 different colours.  Low contrast (light grey and medium grey, for example) or high contrast (black and white, or dark purple and light pink) can be used for any chart.
  2. Try using a gradient yarn with a solid (or heathered) contrast colour. Or mix it up and use two different gradient yarns that contrast with each other!
  3. Use a mini skein set of pre-matched colours. A mini skein set with a good mix of light and dark is ideal, because they have already done the hard work of figuring out which colours would look good together. This can provide you with endless opportunities to try combining colours together in different types of charts and developing your abilities to figure out great combos. For example, this was my first swatch (chart is found on page 44, the Sweden section):

While I liked the way the pistachio colour flowed into the medium green, I tried to reverse the contrast and make the background green above the middle line, and it totally didn’t work. But that’s okay! Swatching is brilliant for playing around with colour. I was much happier with my second chart attempt (also on page 44):

You Should Totally Get This Book If: You love colourwork and the idea of playing around with new ideas, and you want a solid resource that gives you a massive array of choice and possibilities.

You Probably Should Not Get This Book If: You want help choosing colours to go together, and you like a lot of advice about colour. The real gold of this book is the focus on designing with colourwork and the black and white charts, not advice on colours.

Tudor Roses is unlike any other knitting book you will encounter. The concept centralizes on 14 women from the Tudor dynasty, which is in and around the era of the infamous Henry VIII. There is a pattern inspired by each woman, and it is prefaced with a quote from a letter that each woman wrote hundreds of years ago. To me this is like a knitter’s coffee table book, in that it is such a work of art.  I have read the letters so many times, that even if I never knit a single pattern I would keep it. There have been many beautiful knits from this book, and you can see all the patterns on Ravelry here. Not all of them are colourwork, either! One of my favourite patterns is Lady Mary, a beautiful colourwork wrap:

The design calls for 9 different colours, but you could achieve a very similar effect with using a gradient yarn and a contrast colour.  My other favourite is Katharine of Aragon:

This stunning jacket has 13 colours, but there is a handy chart that indicates the darker and brighter colour values, so it would be easy to convert to a two-colour version. You could also customize your own with fewer contrasting colours. While most of the patterns feel quite dressy (they were inspired by queens and princesses, after all), if you feel like modifying you could change them up or use different, more casual colours. Imagine Lady Mary just in shades of cream and grey, for example.

This Book is Definitely for You If: You design garments, feel comfortable modifying patterns or experimenting with colour, or if you have been wanting more dressy knits in your life.

This Book is Totally Not for You If: You don’t find the concept a little interesting and you prefer your knits super simple and straightforward.

The good folks at Dover Publications have very kindly offered a coupon code for 25% off of ANY book on their site. Really, any book at all! There’s loads of knitting titles to choose from here, and you can click around and check out all their other craft books, if you happen to be multi-craftual.  Here’s the coupon code: WRBG

Who doesn’t love a giveaway? Dover Publications is also giving away one copy of Tudor Roses (US and Canada addresses only. I’m sorry international friends!)

Click here to view this promotion.

Entry for the giveaway will close on Wednesday, March 8th at 5 p.m. EST. The winner will be announced on Friday, March 10th!

**This is a sponsored post from Dover Publications. All opinions are entirely my own.