Rediscovering Garter Stitch

Happy 2018! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on my site, because…well, life happens. My husband suffered a major, life-changing injury at work in early 2015, and is still recovering after several surgeries. He now lives with PTSD and a permanently damaged hand. It has been a struggle for him, and for the whole family. I haven’t had the energy to write for a while, but I’m back now. Here are some of the designs I’m coveting and working on.

My LYS: Unwind Yarns

There’s a new LYS in town, called Unwind Yarns: More Than a Yarn Store, and I love it! I bought a set of Kollage interchangeable circular needles, with square needles. Square needles are so easy to work with, and so far I haven’t had the aching hands I usually get from knitting. Unwind stocks good-quality, gorgeous wools and other premium fibres. Here’s a multi-coloured cowl I made using the “Waves” stranded colourwork pattern (Alterknits Stitch Dictionary) and Drops Karisma superwash wool. I’m not completely happy with the colourway, because it doesn’t quite have enough contrast to show clearly.

Here’s the toque I made for my husband’s birthday present, also in Karisma. I adapted a mitten pattern from Drops website, using five repeats, and even used the mitten top shaping as-is for a unique top.

Danish Modern: Hanne Falkenberg

Crochet has been the theme of this blog, but I also love to knit. Lately, colourwork with stranded knitting and stripes has captured my interest. While leafing through old back issues of Vogue Knitting magazine, I re-discovered a designer whose work fascinates me. Her name is Hanne Falkenberg, and she designs what she calls Danish Modern garments for women. Visit her site here: Falkenberg’s designs are not available for sale as patterns only. She sells them as full kits, complete with her own wool, a fine 2-ply Scottish Shetland wool. The designs are coveted by fans, who consider a completed Falkenberg to be quite an accomplishment, requiring dedication and perseverance. In North America, the only distributor is Sedona Knit Wits at Right now I am coveting the Mermaid jacket, Blues Vest, Drip Drop and Da Capo jackets. My need for instant gratification couldn’t be met just yet, and I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a full-scale project like those just yet. So, I searched for some more accessible projects to achieve a similar look. Purl Soho has several garter-stitch projects that feature simplicity and clean lines, but they weren’t quite what I wanted for now.

Schoolhouse Press and E.Z.

Garter stitch is so simple and under-appreciated, knit every row, and for the longest time I avoided it because it looked too simple to me. I’m drawn back to it now because its simplicity can be so beautiful. It shows colourwork well, it lays flat and doesn’t roll, and it’s so springy and squishy. If it’s done in good-quality wool, it is spectacular. While searching for patterns in garter stitch, I found the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket and Adult Surprise Jacket pattern on my bookshelf. I ordered it probably five or six years ago from Schoolhouse Press, back when they only sold hard copies of their patterns (no pdf downloads at all!). By the time it arrived in the mail, I had moved on to other projects. This project had everything I was looking for: mitres, potential for striping patterns, a more sophisticated looking garter-stitch garment. Schoolhouse Press now offers digital products including pdf copies of patterns and streaming videos, and an online calculator for custom-sizing the Surprise Sweater. It’s a literal treasure trove of knowledge (E.Z. was a genius, and her equally-talented daughter Meg Swanson and grandson Cully continue the tradition.) I bought the Surprise Sweater streaming video, which features Meg Swanson demonstrating the techniques. Thanks to the video, I finally tried the i-cord bind off and it was a success. Meg recommends making the Baby Surprise Jacket first, before trying the adult size. I just completed my first one tonight.

My next project will be an adult-size version of the Surprise Sweater, and I’m just choosing what wool to use. I have some tweedy wool in beige and denim blue to use up, but it’s not superwash treated. Maybe that’s okay, because I can just soak it to clean it.

What’s on your needles (or hook)?


Introducing The Balanced Family, a new resource for working parents

New Site! The Balanced Family is a resource for working parents

The Balanced Family is a new site for working parents, full of great tips, fun activities, and tools for planning and organizing for a stress-free life.

Go to The Balanced Family today to get your FREE printable weekly family planner.

Holiday Gifts for Geeks

“Black Friday” is nearly upon us, again, followed by the so-called “Cyber Monday”. It’s the height of the holiday shopping season.  Why bother with run-of-the-mill gifts this year when there are so many fabulous gifts for geeks out there?  Get something memorable! Here are a few ideas to get you started. Plus, you can avoid the malls by shopping online.
The Geekery Category on is chock-full of, well, geeky gifts, such as:
Chemistry-Themed Crayon Labels
Art meets science in these labels. For your children, or for yourself.
Chemistry Crayon CLEAR Labels - set of 96
Caffeine-Molecule Upcycled Coffee Mugs
Face it, most of us rely on the ubiquitous caffeine molecule every day.  Let people know just how much their lives are impacted by chemistry by showcasing this mug at the office.
Nerdy Baby ABC’s and 123’s Flash Cards
Give your baby (or a friend’s baby) a head start in life with these flash cards, designed by a chemical engineer for her kids. I bought some for my children and for some friends.
Nerdy Baby ABCs and 123s... wooooo GET BOTH
Snorg Tees Geek-Nerd Section
There’s a tee for every nerd at the Snorg Tees shop. Some feature inside jokes that only the initiated will understand. You dig?
My personal favourite, pi versus the imaginary numbers:
Pi Be Rational
The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine
Specially-formatted paper is designed so you can photograph the pages and convert them directly to pages in your Evernote notebooks. Fabulous!
Happy shopping!

DIY Christmas: Make your own Advent Calendar

December is almost here – it’s time to get ready. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either! Christmas is a great time of year to make crafts with your kids, or on your own. Have a Do-It-Yourself Christmas this year – start by making an Advent Calendar. Here are some of my favourite ideas:

Advent Gift Tags (pictured) – here’s a set I made using the Candlelight Christmas designer paper and 25 and Counting stamp set from Stampin’ Up! Pretty ribbon is used to tie the tags to any gifts you choose. I also made a set using paper favour boxes, by adhering punched out snowflakes with the 25-and-counting images (also shown at right). The boxes are thumb-tacked to a cork board that was covered with Christmas paper and ribbon.

Other ideas to inspire you:

Canadian Living Home & Crafts has a ton of great ideas, including an Advent Calendar:

DIY Christmas: Make a chic Advent calendar – Canadian Living.

Martha Stewart, always a go-to:

The Crafty Crow – A Children’s Craft Collective

This site is a treasure trove of ideas, including these ones. Many use recycled and scrap materials and will appeal to kids:

Fiskars Crafts

You probably know that Fiskars makes a lot of fabulous scissors and other cutting/punching tools for papercrafting. I just discovered their Crafts website – here is a link to their Advent Calendar ideas:

How to organize paper artwork from school

I love my daughters, and I love the artwork they so proudly bring home. They’ve clearly worked very hard on most of it, which makes it so difficult to do a little home organizing…(read: get rid of the piles and piles of paper that accumulated all last year). Yes, I feel guilty saying “get rid of”. I keep 12×12 scrapbook albums for the most precious items. My mother kept a box of the most treasured artwork, certificates, awards, and report cards for each of her four children.

This year my goal is to keep the memories, not the paper. How? By taking a photograph of each project, and compiling those into a photobook using digital design software (My Digital Studio2 from Stampin’ Up!). I had thought about this in previous years, but what nudged me into action was seeing the example by Amy Swartz, here: Armed with coffee and my iPhone (4s, not 5), I’m ready for action. I’ll start with a photo book template and customize it as needed. It would be easy to make the pages seasonally themed.

It will take some work, and some of the more complex or multi-page items don’t translate well into 2D format. (Last year my oldest daughter made her own version of The Paper Bag Princess, and won kudos for her excellent work – that project will be kept in the scrapbook!) But I think it will be worth it, and our family will not have to drown in all that paper. Plus, it would make a nice gift for their grandparents at Christmas time.

My child’s school is fundraising with Mabel’s Labels.

Hi there!This is to let you know about A.’s fundraiser to benefit Castlegar Primary School PAC.We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Mabel’s Labels, North America’s leading provider of personalized “labels for the stuff kids lose!™”

Mabel’s Labels are dishwasher, microwave and laundry safe, making them perfect for identifying everything that goes to school, camp or daycare. Other products include Allergy Alerts and household storage labels. Mabel’s labels are for everyone, everywhere!

Shop online at:

A percentage of your purchase will automatically go towards our fundraiser!

Thank you in advance for supporting A.’s fundraiser.

We’re sure you will love your labels!

P.S. Spread the word! Forward this email to friends and family.
On Facebook? Follow Twitter? Write a blog? These are great ways to promote this fundraiser!