Thrifting

I absolutely love going thrifting, i.e. going to second-hand shops, antique stores, flea markets, and giveaways in search of treasure. I mean, it’s the kind of treasure that is other peoples’ trash, but that’s totally okay by me. Treasure is in the eye of the beholder, really. Also, this is treasure I can actually afford.


613flea at Aberdeen Pavilion (Lansdowne Park).


The Original Fabric Flea Market at the Glebe Community Center.


The Ottawa Antique Market on Bank Street.

I did find some great treasures lately, like this stack of fabric from the Original Fabric Flea Market. I arrived with only an hour left of the market, and I really regret not showing up for the opening. I still scored some cute vintage prints, a bit of Halloween fabric, and a good chunk of grey faux fur (always in demand for costumes).

I also found two vintage tablecloths and two vintage-style (but brand new) aprons. The aprons are especially useful because I’ve found myself relying on them more and more to save my clothes when cooking — and they get dirty pretty fast, so it’s essential for me to have a small stash of them.

Recently there was a 50% off all books sale at Value Village, and the Salvation Army is currently running a coupon special that if you buy 3 or more books they’re all 50% off. (The coupon is valid until October 31st and is available here, for my fellow thrifters.) My girls are voracious readers, so I picked up dozens of new-to-them books that I will dole out over the coming months. For myself, I picked up the above-pictured Halloween books:

– I Can Decorate: Pumpkin Fun from Practico Media (2007)
Halloween Recipes & Crafts by Christine Savage (2003)
A Zombie Ate My Cupcake by Lily Vanilli (2016)

Books I’d like to go through with the kids:

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters by Jane Yolen (2009)
Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking by Sarah Elton (2014)

A bunch of cookbooks, which are disproportionately from Canadian Living because most of the other ones I was interested in that were available, I already had:

The Canadian Living Entertaining Cookbook by Carol Ferguson (1990)
The Canadian Living Christmas Book from the Canadian Living Magazine (1993)
– Canadian Living’s Family Cookbook from the Canadian Living Magazine (1995)
Canadian Living’s Country Cooking by Elizabeth Baird (1994)
Canadian Living’s Best Vegetables by Elizabeth Baird (1995)
Canadian Living’s Best Soups and Stews by Elizabeth Baird (1997)
Canadian Living’s Best One-Dish Meals by Elizabeth Baird (1994)
Canadian Living’s Best Light Cooking by Elizabeth Baird (1994)
Canadian Living’s Best Breads And Pizzas by Elizabeth Baird (1998)
Betty Crocker’s Bread Machine Cookbook from Betty Crocker (1995)
– Restaurant Recipe: Ottawa’s Best Recipes from Loeb (2000)
How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson (2003)

Tucked away in one of these cookbooks was a clipping from a newspaper, which reads (translated roughly from French):

FOUR HAPPY YOUNG LADIES made their Brownie promise at the Notre-Dame d’Aylmer convent last Sunday. They are Dominique Robert, Elaine Davis, Analisa Lemieux, and in the back, Lyne Bisaillon.

As an aside, if anyone in this photo wants the original copy or a high-res scan, I’d be happy to send it to them.

To satisfy my knitting curiosity, I snatched up:

2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes (2007)

I also thought that these old drop spindles were interesting. I’ve made a few attempts at spinning my own yarn in the past; perhaps it’s time to give it another go?

Some of my favourite finds of the last little while were two Pyrex England casserole dishes. The one on the left was originally my mother’s (although probably not the original lid) and it came to her as a wedding gift; the ones on the right I found last weekend. I believe that I mentioned in my Mom’s Homemade Macaroni & Cheese recipe write-up that this is, to me, the proper dish for my mother’s casseroles. Mom taking this dish out of the cupboard meant that I was about to have one of my all-time favourite meals. I still feel happy just looking at these dishes. It’s probably silly, but I bet everyone has a simple object with emotional connections to their childhood like this.

I’d have to say that my absolute favourite find was a copy of The New Purity Cook Book by Anna Lee (1967). This cookbook was a mainstay in my mother’s kitchen, which is why when I moved out I made sure to buy the reprint The All New Purity Cookbook. And you know, I probably would have been quite satisfied with that, except they made one crucial error to my mind: instead of organizing the index alphabetically like in the original, it was organized by category. This means that’s it’s impossible to quickly search for dishes with one main ingredient. It also leaves me trying to figure out which category some dishes fit into (it can be subjective). So it’s not just for nostalgia, but for practical reasons that I’m so happy I found a copy of the original book, and not only because they’re over $50 each on Amazon (I paid thrift store prices for mine). Not only that, but it’s in near-mint condition — much better than my mom’s well-loved copy!

There are a bunch of flea and Christmas markets coming up soon, which I’m looking forward to even though I’m not even ready to think about the holiday season yet. Heck, I haven’t even gotten through Halloween yet! What I’m looking forward to soonest is Ottawa Give Away Weekend, when people put items they don’t want on the side of the road for anyone to pick up for free if they are so inclined. I’ve found some lovely treasures on this weekend in previous years, including the beautiful antique mirror that hangs in my front hall. You might call it trash picking, but I call it recycling. Why should I buy all new things when there is such a huge variety of awesome second-hand items out there? Newer doesn’t always mean better — and it almost always means more expensive.

Rip It, Rip It

So I started up another Brick Stitch Dishcloth yesterday, this time in Christmas colours instead of Halloween. The variegated yarn contrasted so beautifully with the solid colour in the pattern’s photos that I was inspired to use red yarn alongside red/white/green multicolour yarn.

Well, that didn’t look nearly as nice as the pattern’s photos. It looked a hot mess, really, with the red from the variegated yarn blending into the solid red and confusing the pattern. I think that the operative word for a piece like this is “contrast”, i.e. the two yarns should not contain any of the same colours, although they should be complimentary.

I know a lot of people are probably thinking right now, “Who cares? It’s just a cloth. It will be used for wiping up messes and will probably be stained five minutes after it is first used.” That’s probably true. But I still care, I can’t help it. Perhaps I am too much of a perfectionist when it comes to knitting. I am the kind of knitter who will frog way back to a mistake even if it’s imperceptible to anyone but me — even if it’s “just” a cloth I’m knitting. (One of my absolute favourite bloggers, the Yarn Harlot, is this way, so I do not feel quite so alone.) I figure it could have been much worse, since I decided that I hated the colours/patterns together fairly early on in the project. Ah, well. Lesson learned.

Cloths

I’ve been laid up a bit lately, and I had to do something with my hands before I lost my mind. To that end, I picked up a bunch of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Yarn in a variety of colours so that I could make some cloths. I love to make these to give away at Christmas; I figure that while they’re not terribly fancy, they’re a very practical gift — and you can never have too many.

I started with Bella Coco’s How To Crochet the Waffle Stitch tutorial. I cast on 34 stitches and worked the waffle pattern from there. I used, top to bottom in the photo above, Lemon Swirl Ombre, Poppy Ombre, Pale Yellow, and then Poppy Ombre again. I haven’t crocheted for years, but I found the tutorial laid everything out very clearly. The waffle pattern makes a nice, scrubby texture in this yarn that will be great for cleaning dishes.

I also knit some cloths using the free pattern on the back of the yarn ball band that’s also available for free online: the Brick Stitch Dishcloth. I’d never done this pattern before either, but I loved how it turned out. Now that the leaves are starting to change, I thought it would be fun to make some cloths in Halloween colours. They’ll probably be Christmas gifts too, but many of my friends would prefer these combinations anyway. I used Black Licorice with (from top to bottom) Hot Green, Hot Orange, Hot Purple, and Red.

At The Park

There are a lot of public parks in the Ottawa area; a lot of them even have splash pads and water features. This means that if you’re looking to do something with the kids (or even just to get outside yourself), there is always somewhere to go and something to do — so long as it’s not pouring rain. I take advantage of this on a regular basis. My kids are old enough now to pop off together to the closest park for an hour or two. However, their range is pretty small (they only just learned to ride bikes without training wheels earlier this summer), and I wouldn’t feel comfortable with them going much further or crossing major roads alone in any case. So whenever it’s nice out and the girls are getting restless, I head out to a park.


Brewer Park


Knitting at Cardinal Creek Community Park. That day I was working on the start of an adult sock in Araucania Yars Huasco 100% extra-fine Merino wool (colour 101, dye lot 74403) on 3.5mm circular knitting needles.

We alternate between parks, sometimes staying close to home, sometimes packing a lunch and driving downtown or even across town to check out some new scenery. I stuff a novel, a knitting project, and my phone into my purse, which is enough to keep me entertained for hours. No matter where we go, I also have to bring about a tonne of sunscreen. It probably hasn’t escaped anyone that I’m a blonde and my kids are redheads, so sunscreen is not an option, it’s a necessity. The kids invariably come home soaking wet, exhausted, and happy. To me, that’s a successful summer day.

Janeway / Sisko Baby Sweater Pattern

As this week is the lead-up to ComicCon, I thought it appropriate that I re-post my pattern from my old blog for a Star-Trek-inspired baby sweater. Back in June of 2013, friends of mine were expecting their first child at any time, so I wanted to knit them an appropriately-geeky baby gift. The couple was particularly fond of Star Trek, specifically The Next Generation (TNG) and Deep Space Nine (DS9). I knew what I wanted to knit, but I couldn’t find an appropriate pattern online, so I had to come up with one myself. We didn’t know if the baby would be a boy or a girl, so I thought that a sweater based on a uniform would be most appropriate. Most notably, I used photos of Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway and Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko as references.


Sweater modeled by Thing 2, who was 18 months old at the time, and who comfortably wore a size 2. The sweater is a bit too short in the arms and body, as well as being snug. I would say it’s actually about a 12-18 month size, but as you can see, it does have some stretch.

I used Fringe Association’s tutorial for how to improvise a top-down sweater — which is full of invaluable information — as a basis for my pattern. I really needed the help, especially since at the time I’d only ever knit two other baby sweaters, and that was years prior. I had some difficulties with getting the sizing right, to start. The first two tries were disasters, the first yielding a neck that wouldn’t fit a preemie, and the second one that was too big for my four-and-a-half-year-old. Try three gave me the size I wanted: 12-18 months, with a nice stretchy neck and short collar to accommodate a baby’s big head and short neck.

Without further ado, here’s the pattern for a 12-18 month size for the sweater:

Janeway / Sisko Baby Sweater
Size 12-18 months

Materials
– 25g (half a 50g/125m (1.76oz/137yds) ball) of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in colour 340034 (cherry)
– 140g (just under three 50g/125m (1.76oz/137yds) balls) of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in colour 340300 (black)
– one set of 3.25mm (US 3, UK 10) circular knitting needles in a length comfortable for the magic loop method (I recommend 75cm/31.5″ or longer)
– 10 stitch markers

Gauge
– 29 stitches and 44 rows = 10cm x 10cm (4″ x 4″) worked in stockinette stitch

Instructions

Neck:

– Using the cherry yarn and the stretchiest cast on you know, cast on 80 stitches. Tillybuddy’s Very Stretchy Cast-On for Double and Single Ribbing is the best cast-on I’ve found for this.

– Divide the stitches so that there are 40 stitches on each needle.

– Being careful not to twist, join for working in the round.

– Work in K2, P2 ribbing for 2.5cm (1″).

Yoke:

– On each needle, place stitch markers as follows, with “|” representing a stitch marker, and the numbers enumerating the stitches:

4 | 2 | 28 | 2 | 4

– Additionally, add a different coloured stitch marker at the end of each row.

– Round 1: Knit until last stitch before first marker, KFB, knit until first stitch after second marker, KFB, knit until last stitch before third marker, KFB, knit until first stitch after fourth marker, KFB, knit to end of needle. Repeat for second needle.

– Round 2: Knit. This pattern will increase the number of stitches on each needle by four every two rounds.

– Repeat Round 1 and Round 2 until the sweater measures 9cm (3.5″) from the very start of the neck. Switch the yarn to black yarn in the middle of the back of the next Round 2.

– Continue repeating Round 1 and Round 2 until the stitches on each needle are divided as:

21 | 2 | 62 | 2 | 21

Separate the Body and Sleeves:

– Knit until you reach the first marker, remove the marker, and then knit one more stitch. Place a marker. Remove the next marker.

– Knit until you reach the next marker, remove the marker, and then knit one more stitch.

– Place the next 44 stitches on waste yarn, removing the markers as you go. (These will be for one sleeve.)

– Cast on 4 stitches, place a marker, cast on another 4 stitches.

– Knit until you reach the next stitch marker. Remove the marker, the knit one more stitch.

– Place the next 44 stitches on waste yarn, removing the markers as you go. (These will be for the other sleeve.)

– Cast on 4 stitches, place a marker, cast on another 4 stitches.

– Your stitch count should be as follows: 44 stitches on each piece of waste yarn for the sleeves, and 72 stitches on each side of what will now be the body.

Body:

– Knit until the piece measures 27cm (10.5″) from the very top of the neck.

– Work in K2, P2 rib for an additional 2.5cm (1″).

– Cast off loosely, but not too loosely. I like Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, but to keep the rib from flaring I only used it on the purl stitches, and I did a straight cast off on the knit stitches.

Sleeves:

– *Pick up the 44 stitches that were set aside for one sleeve on waste yarn, then divide them in half, putting half on each needle. Put a stitch marker between the halves.

– Pick up and knit 8 stitches in the armpit of the sleeve (where you cast on the extra 8 stitches for the body earlier).

– Place a marker halfway. This should yield you 52 stitches total (26 on each needle) on the sleeve.

– Knit the sleeve in the round until it reaches 14cm (5.5″) measured from the armpit.

– At the start and end of each needle, K2tog for one round. You should now have 48 stitches total (24 on each needle).

– Work in K2, P2 ribbing for 2.5cm (1″).

– Bind off in the same fashion as you bound off the body.**

– Repeat from * to ** for the second sleeve.

Finishing:

– Sew in ends.

– Give the whole sweater a hand wash and a good wet blocking.

Simple Wrist Warmers Pattern

I’ve had another request to re-publish an entry from my old blog. This time it’s the pattern very simple wrist warmers. The difficulty level is extremely low; all you have to know is how to cast on, cast off, knit in the round, knit, and purl. The look of the wrist warmers is reminiscent of the Ribbed For Her Pleasure Sock Pattern, and that is by design, since they are often made out of yarn left over after knitting these socks (and can be included as a set with the socks when given as a gift).

I originally wrote this pattern back in 2011, and my notes regarding gauge have been lost. However, I have knit them many times since then, and in my experience most sock yarn (i.e. fingering weight) works equally well. The ribbed knit makes the finished project quite stretchy and hence forgiving of slight differences in gauge.


Simple Wrist Warmers (Toddler/Preschooler Size) knit out of Not In Kansas yarn by Three By Hand.

Simple Wrist Warmers
Toddler/Preschooler Size

Materials
– Approximately 50 yards (46m) of sock-weight yarn
– One set of US size 3 (3.25mm, UK 10) circular needles in a comfortable length for the magic loop method OR four 3mm (3.25mm, UK 10) double-pointed needles

Instructions
– Loosely cast on 36 sts.
– Divide into 18 sts on 2 needles using the magic loop method OR divide into 12 sts on 3 needles on DPNs.
– Join and work (K2, P2) ribbing in the round for 2.5″ (6.4cm).
– Switch to knitting flat for 1″ (2.5cm). In other words, knit (K2, P2) when working on the right side and (P2, K2) when working on the wrong side of the piece. This will give you your thumb hole.
– Return to working (K2, P2) ribbing in the round for an additional 0.75″ (1.9cm).
– Loosely cast off. Sew in ends.


Simple Wrist Warmers (Adult Size) knit out of Misti Alpaca (50% alpaca, 30% merino wool, 10% silk, 10% nylon) hand-painted sock yarn in colour
19 (Reggaeton).

Simple Wrist Warmers
Adult Size

Materials
– approximately 175 yards (160m) of sock-weight yarn
– One set of US size 3 (3.25mm, UK 10) circular needles in a comfortable length for the magic loop method OR four 3mm (3.25mm, UK 10) double-pointed needles

Instructions
– Loosely cast on 60 sts.
– Divide into 30 sts on 2 needles using the magic loop method OR divide into 20 sts on 3 needles on DPNs.
– Join and work (K2, P2) ribbing in the round for 6″ (15.25cm).
– Switch to knitting flat for 2″ (5.1cm). In other words, knit (K2, P2) when working on the right side and (P2, K2) when working on the wrong side of the piece. This will give you your thumb hole.
– Return to working (K2, P2) ribbing in the round for an additional 1.75″ (4.4cm).
– Loosely cast off. Sew in ends.

Ribbed For Her Pleasure Sock Pattern

As with my Minecraft Creeper Blanket Pattern, I wrote this pattern years ago — July of 2007, to be precise. It is actually the first knitting pattern I ever wrote. When I took down my old blog, the patterns went with it, and since then I have had request to re-publish some of my old work.

My Ribbed For Her Pleasure Sock Pattern is a very simple sock that, due to its repetitive nature, is great for working on in front of the TV, while on the bus, or while watching small children. It works well with most sock-weight yarns and showcases self-striping yarns beautifully. This is the updated version from 2011, when I fixed an error in the heel.

Ribbed For Her Pleasure Socks
Adult Women’s Size

Materials
– Two 50g (1.764oz) 152m (166yrd) balls of sock yarn, size 1 super fine
– One set of four size US 3 (3.25mm, UK 10) double point needles

Gauge
– Sock Yarn: 28 stitches and 36 rows = 4″ x 4″ (10cm x10cm) square on US 3 (3.25mm, UK 10) needles

Instructions
– Loosely cast on 60 sts. Divide into 20 sts on 3 needles. Join and work in (K2, P2) ribbing for 1.5″ (3.81cm).

– Work in (P2, K2) for an additional 3.5″ (more or less if taller or shorter socks are desired; make sure you have additional wool if you want taller socks).

Arrange heel sts:

– Slip 6 sts from end of 1st needle onto beginning of 2nd needle, and slip 6 sts from beginning of 3rd needle onto end of 2nd needle. This should give you 14 sts on the 1st needle, 32 sts on the 2nd needle, and 14 sts on the 3rd needle.

– Divide the 32 sts on the 2nd needle onto two needles of 16 sts each and leave for the instep.

– (P2, K2) the 14sts off the first needle onto the 3rd needle. Working on these 28 sts proceed as follows:

– Next row: (WS) K1. P12. P2tog. P12. K1. (27 sts on needle)

Make heel:

– 1st row: (RS) K1. Slip 1. Repeat across row ending row with K1.
– 2nd row: K1. Purl to last stitch. K1.
– Repeat these two rows for 2 inches, ending with 1st row.

Shape heel:

– 1st row: (WS) Slip 1. P14. P2tog. P1. Turn.
– 2nd row: (RS) Slip 1. K5. SL1. K1. PSSO. K1. Turn.
– 3rd row: Slip 1. P6. P2tog. P1. Turn.
– 4th row: Slip 1. K7. SL1. K1. PSSO. K1. Turn.
– 5th row: Slip 1. P8. P2tog. P1. Turn.
– 6th row: Slip 1. K9. SL1. K1. PSSO. K1. Turn.
– 7th row: Slip 1. P10. P2tog. P1. Turn.
– 8th row: Slip 1. K11. SL1. K1. PSSO. K1. Turn.
– 9th row: Slip 1. P12. P2tog. P1. Turn.
– 10th row: Slip 1. K13. SL1. K1. PSSO. K1. Turn.
– 11th row: Slip 1. P14. P2tog. Turn.
– 12th row: Knit. (16 stitches remaining in heel)

Make instep:

– Slip 32 sts for instep onto one needle.

– 1st needle: With RS of work facing and using the heel needle, pick up 13sts. Knit 11 of these sts, then purl 2 of these sts.
– 2nd needle: Slip the two purled stitches from the end of the 1st needle to the beginning of the 2nd needle. (K2, P2) the rest of the way across instep sts.
– 3rd needle: Pick up and knit 13 sts along other side of heel.

– Sts are now divided as: 27-34-13

– Knit 7 sts from beginning of first needle onto end of 3rd needle.

– Sts are now divided as: 20-34-20

– 1st round:
– 1st needle: Knit to last 3 sts. K2 tog. K1.
– 2nd needle: (P2, K2) to the end of needle, ending with P2.
– 3rd needle: K1. Slip 1. K1. psso. Knit to end.

– 2nd round:
– 1st needle: Knit.
– 2nd needle: (P2, K2) to the end of needle, ending with P2.
– 3rd needle: Knit.

– Repeat these two rounds to 13sts on 1st needle, 34 sts on 2nd needle, and 13 sts on 3rd needle (60 sts total).

– Continue knitting as in 2nd round until foot, from picked up sts at heel, measures 5″ (12.7cm). (Alternately, continue knitting until the needles sit at the first knuckle of the big toe when this sock is tried on the foot on which it will be worn.)

Shape toe:

– Slip 2 sts from start of 2nd needle onto end of 1st needle, and slip 2 sts from end of of 2nd needle onto start of 3rd needle. This should give you 15 sts on the 1st needle, 30 sts on the 2nd needle, and 15 sts on the 3rd needle.

– 1st round:
– 1st needle: Knit to last 3 sts. K2tog. K1.
– 2nd needle: K1. Slip 1. K1. psso. Knit to last 3 sts. K2tog. K1.
– 3rd needle: K1. Slip 1. K1. psso. Knit to end.

– 2nd round: Knit.

– Repeat these two rounds until 28 sts remain (divided 7-14-7). Break yarn and graft 2 sets of 14 sts.