Sunday, December 30, 2012

At this festive season of the year . . .

We've always loved that line from Dickens' A Christmas Carol . . . "At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time." Although it was written in 1843, not much has changed.

The long-awaited CoCo's Cap for Kids and Adults
While individually, it may be difficult for us to make a difference, collectively there's a lot we can do. We just received an email from a group that's close to our heart, Afghans for Afghans. It's a group of volunteers who send hand-knitted garments to the women and children of Afghanistan where the climate is harsh, and conditions difficult. More than warmth, these knitted items offer the assurance that someone cares.

Afghans for Afghans just received the opportunity to send over several cartons of knitted hats, mittens and socks for ages 5 to adult. The deadline is mid-January, and we are happy to find we have a cap all made and ready to send. We just need to pop it in an envelope and lick a stamp.

Now, why, you may ask do we have a cap all knitted up? Well, a very long time ago we received a request for directions for making a larger version of Coco's (Baby) Cap. We worked on it. We really did. AND we made progress. However, other things got in the way, and we didn't actually get the cap pattern written up into a pattern. This morning, we had the bright idea that we'd just post what we have. It's a little . . . uh, rough! . . . but it's really not rocket science to knit up a cap. All the info is there. It's just not pretty.

Our 'notes' would confound even one of those Navajo code breakers!

So, in the interest of sharing, and in the hope that someone else will knit up a cap for a child halfway around the world, here it is: Coco's Cap For Kids and Adults. One slight caveat: We're the only ones who have knitted this pattern. No one else has tested it, so if you find a mistake please let us know.

The crown . . . Pretty, right?

The details about the current campaign at Afghans for Afghans can be found HERE including the address for mailing your knitting. You must be sure to use mostly wool (not acrylic). The Afghan women know how to care for wool.

From the conclusion of  A Christmas Carol  . . ."He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him."

May your heart laugh!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow? What snow?

It's blowin' and snowin' again this morning. After the wallopping we got on Thursday, we were glad that only a couple of centimetres of snow was predicted for today . . . but we've already got that. And it's showin' no signs of stoppin', but Cassie doesn't care. She's found the perfect perch.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Indispensable thing 2

A week or so ago, we mentioned that there are a couple of things we absolutely NEED in order to be able to move on into a new year. The first was the calendar. The second is a new sketchbook. There's nothing like a blank page to say, "Anything is possible!"

This year, it's a moleskin . . . 8-1/4" x 11-3/4" . . . the largest moleskin we've seen. Ninety-six pages of heavy-weight, acid-free paper, nice and smooth, just the way we like it. With a heavy cover, a ribbon bookmark, and an elastic strap to keep it closed. Curry's has them on sale right now, with free shipping!

This is a photo of our newest drawing-in-the-making. If you're eagle-eyed, you'll be able to see it's a Christmas Eve scene. If we finish it soon enough, we'll post it here. Mostly, it's in preparation for next year's calendar.

On Curry's website, they say, "The legendary [Moleskin] notebook used by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway and more." And now Coco, too! :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Joke`s on us

We started a pair of socks a long time ago now. We started them on June 15, 2012, to be exact. We know this because we keep a little project book, with all the details. That's how organized we are. We do this so we'll be able to pick up where we left off if something happens and we don't back to the project for a while.

Here are the socks as they came off our needles this week. Pathetic, right?

But, wait! They only need the magic of blocking to bloom from ugly ducklings into the swans they were meant to be.

Except.....Just as we went to post this photo, we thought, "Hmmmm, isn't there something a little ..... weird! ... about the cuffs?" Yup. One of them is 'by the book' and the other is ...... not. :(  But if anyone out there thinks we're going to re-do that sock, s/he's out of his/her everlovin' mind!

Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt. It's a GREAT pattern. We've made it before with no problem. It helps if your head's in a place where you can concentrate though. We bought an entire book just to get this pattern. Now, you can buy the pattern all by itself.

Yarn: Louet Gems fingering weight yarn, soft coral. 2 skeins (185 yd. each)
Needles: 2.5 mm double points

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yo! (W)rap on!

For Karen, who loves to wrap presents.....
and for Polly and Maddie who like to help.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Kumihimo. That's what. It's a form of rope-making that comes from Japan. We've been intrigued for some time. Here's our first try at it. A spiral cord. (And before anyone asks......Yes, it's simple. Even we can do it.)

We used the info from this site and 16 lengths of ordinary embroidery floss (cut to 36 inches) . . . 4 each of 4 different colours. There seem to be a lot of variations.

We chose these colours specifically to go with a pendant that our sister-in-law (the potter) made for us. Yes, it's made of clay and fired in a kiln. She gave us 2. We suppose they could have been earrings, but the kumihimo won out.

Once we had the pendant and the cord, we only needed the hardware. We've been playing with wire, but it's been slow going. We were influenced (as always) by Sherri over on Knotjustmacrame, who made a lovely clasp for one of her bracelets. She pointed us to this tutorial. We think we'll just follow Sherri around and pick up her crumbs. :)

We Talk Back!

Now for some unfinished business... Mischelle recently left us a comment on a long-ago post about those macramé bracelets, asking for a tutorial. She didn't leave us any way to get back to her, so, Mischelle, if you're reading this, this info is for you. Everything you need to get started in beaded micro macramé can be found in one book. It's the very book we used to get started. It's Micro-Macramé: 30 Beaded Designs for Jewelry Using Crystals and Cords by Annika de Groot. Good luck, Mischelle!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Looking forward

Lookey what came in the mail . . .

Happy 2013! Calendar

There are a couple of things that are necessary (for us!) to move on into a new year. 
The first is a calendar. 

January starts out with a roar . . . and, of course, coffee!

This calendar business is pretty important to us since it sets the tone for all we do. 
We use it to keep track of what we're working on and what we're thinking. 

June . . . coffee break.

We put our appointments in there, but there aren't many of those. 
The dentist. The oil change for the car. That sort of thing. 

August . . . full moons and romance!

We make a note on the December page 
for things that must carry over to the next calendar. 
Currently, that's the reminder to cancel our cell phone contract when it comes due. 
(We can hardly wait for that one.)

December . . . snow!
We used to make our calendar.  
It was easy to upload our drawings and choose a layout.  
Best of all, it only took FOUR days to come in the mail.

We guess you can see that we're banking heavily on the Mayans being wrong!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There are some . . . no, better make that, a LOT! . . . of really good designs floating around these days. It would be impossible to keep up. Sometimes, it's just a question of stumbling upon the right design when we have the right materials at hand. That was the case with Suki. We saw her first on The Yarn Harlot's blog, in early October, and we thought she was really pretty. Almost at the same time, we remembered we had that fabulous plum Baby Alpaca that our lovely Stephanie brought us back from Europe last Christmas. In April, we happened on a close-out sale of Louet Gems fingering weight. When we shopped our stash, we were delighted to see these 2 yarns were just meant to be. The Louet Gems is made of 2 strands . . . a blue one and a plum one. They go together perfectly.

We have 2 skeins of each. We decided to make the small size shawl (because we are on the small side) and really want to wear it more as a scarf with our jean jacket. We used virtually ALL of one ball of the plum (186 yds.) and nearly all of the blue (185 yds.). That means we actually have enough to knit a second one. OR, maybe we need dainty fingerless gloves to match.

We LOVE the picot bind off. We didn't love doing it because it was kind of 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, but we do love the way it looks.

Suki is Miriam Pike's design and you can find the pattern for sale HERE.  It's well written and not hard, if you're in a place in your head where you can concentrate and follow a chart. When we started this a couple of months ago we weren't exactly there, but working on it has helped us find that mind-set again. That, and time, which really does heal all wounds.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's been kind to us these past few months. It's good to have friends.

Now, for the first time in AGES, we're going to link up with our friends at the Needle and Thread Network.........all Canadian, all the time. :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012


See over there on the right? That photo of the woman in the quilted cap? The cap with the knitted brim?

That's the Cosy Quilted Cap Pattern. It's pretty cool. One of our best designs, if we do say so ourselves. It fits well. It's warm. AND the pattern comes with 5 sizes for kids through adults. All in one .PDF.

Wanna know what's cooler?

Our friend Karen at Sew-Karen-ly Created, tipped us off this morning that it's featured on the Craftsy site. It was trending at 8th spot this morning, and right this's at number THREE!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We've got the blues

We've had nothing but girl babies in this family recently. (Not complainin', just sayin'.) All pink, all the time. Fortunately, one of our nieces is expecting a baby boy early next year. Should we knit or should we quilt for the little guy?   Hmmmmm...... Let's go with a blue and white scrap quilt.

Step one - gather up a pile of blues, and try hard not to dither too much about which blues to use.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Some things just tickle me

"When no one was looking, Harold slipped to his knees and asked for the safety of the people he had left behind, and those who were ahead. He asked for the will to keep going. He also apologized for not believing."

. . . from "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pretty in pink

Two little baby sweaters finished today. 

Pink, girlie sweaters. 

With simple quilted yokes.

Duetta sweaters.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


". . . and they had made a decision in their hearts and minds to ignore the evidence and to imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious."

. . . from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unashamedly, by hand

We've been workin' away on that half-finished quilt we resurrected for therapy. We stitched the rows together, and added the borders. We did that part twice, because, of course, we weren't paying attention as to which were the outside edges (as opposed to the edges that meet in the centre of the quilt).

We haven't hand quilted in a while. We usually use those old Q-Snap frames. You know, the white pastic tubes with the covers that snap tightly in place. You remember. Those old frames that used to say, right on the packaging, "Guaranteed for Life"?????  Remember???? Well, it seems they were guaranteed for the life of the plastic, 'cuz they sure weren't guaranteed for a normal, human lifetime.....or even an abnormal human, such as us. The parts that snap over the quilt to hold it in place are all cracked and useless.

We ended up with a fairly flimsy-looking wooden frame that measures about 15 inches across. It has a good, strong, and functional screw and wing-nut join though and it seems to hold our quilt nice and taut. We think it's going to be fine. And it only cost us seven bucks!!

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry (you should read it!)

We do have the lumber and hardware for a floor frame, but there's something much nicer about holding the quilt on your lap to quilt.

We have our quilt in its frame. We have our good Ott light. And, we have the CBC radio to listen to while we quilt. It feels good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hawaii on the cheap

We have a weakness for coffee. There, we said it. But not just any coffee. No. In spite of the fact that we don't travel much (or well), we did spend a very enjoyable 10 days on the island of Maui a few years ago. How exotic, right? It was a fabulous holiday, probably never to be repeated. Almost certainly never to be repeated. Transit time from the Kingdom of Coco to Maui is punishing. Two really long flights, at best.

One of our fondest memories is of the coffee that we bought in the grocery store there and brewed in the kitchen of the condo we stayed in. It's Lion Brand coffee, grown and packaged right in Hawaii. We fell for the Chocolate Macadamia Nut. When we got home, we looked into the possibility of buying it online. They do sell it mail order, and if you live in the US, the postage is pretty reasonable. However, here in the Kingdom, they insist on sending it by courier. The shipping cost by courier is outrageous! It actually costs as much to ship the stuff as the coffee itself costs. Ouch!

We moped around for a while as our coffee supply dwindled. Moped and plotted and felt sorry for ourselves. And then, one day, we started thinking about the possibility of going back to Maui, on holiday. We calculated just how much that would cost. Airfare, hotel, travel insurance!! We factored in how sipping a cup of Lion Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee takes us right back to the sun and surf, and we had an epiphany!

A cup of Lion Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee is a pretty cheap indulgence  . . .  even with the courier highway robbery. So, now we buy coffee by the caseload and keep it in the freezer. We even manage a smile for the day-light robber who brings it to the door.

We drew this coffee-swilling lion to enter in a contest that Lion Coffee is running right now. Unfortunately, when we went to enter it, they require our date of birth. We think that little nugget of information is worth a whole lot more than a case of coffee, so won't be entering after all.  We like our lion though, and we hope he likes his moment of fame, right here in the gallery of the Kingdom of Coco.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A book well worth reading

One thing our dad gave us was a love of books. He was a lifelong reader. He often said a person could never be lonely as long as he had a book. Dad credited one of his first school teachers with giving him the gift of reading. He didn't have a lot of formal education, but as a true autodidact, he was a highly educated man.

We've just finished reading a great book. 419 by Will Ferguson is one of those rare reads. It's fiction, but it's changed our world view. Remember last year when we were railing against those telephone scam artists? Well, 419 is about an email scam . . . that old Nigerian diplomat scam. We've all had the emails. However, Ferguson weaves his story around both the scammers and the victims. He's a travel writer, so the parts that take place in Nigeria are completely believable. He's also Canadian, so the parts that take place in Calgary seem authentic, too.

When we say it's changed our world view, it's because you get to see what goes on in the mind of the scammer, the forces that shape his motives, and you get to see how easily we can all rationalize our own behaviours.

419 is an exciting, twisty story that has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize. It's really worth the read.

We're never really comfortable lifting artwork and photos from the internet without permission, so we've decided not to show the cover of the book. Click on the link, if you're interested. But a blog post without a photo? C'mon! So, to fill the void, here's a photo we took on Thursday of some Michaelmas Daisies in our garden. They're beautiful, and they only bloom here in the early fall. We can't believe the summer's blown by already.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Foresight or sloth?

We don't understand why some people work so hard to finish up their projects the way some mothers insist you have to eat your veggies in order to get dessert. We've always thought a well-saved WIP can be a treasure. This is a case in point:

We're at a low ebb creatively. Starting something new seems like a monumental challenge. We seem to have all we can do just to get out of bed and brush our teeth. We knit away on sock after sock because that's easy. Grab wool. Grab needles. Pick out a stitch pattern. Make a few simple calculations, and we're off! But yesterday, we had the urge to handle fabric. We wanted the comfort of the needle slipping into the cloth. We needed the soothing monotony (and we mean that in a good way!) of hand quilting. However, we don't have the energy to pick out colours or slice up fabric.

And then we remembered. We have at least one quilt project already under way. It's a quilt that needs no thought. All the really creative bits have already been thought out. It just needs the drudgery of the doing. And that's what we need right now.

We dragged a chair in, to stand on, in order to reach the highest shelf in our closet. Way up there, is the box, with an actual layer of dust on top. Once upon a time we had this crazy idea that we'd do a scrap quilt in a controlled colour palette, and we'd hand quilt it in 4 sections, with a hoop, and then join the quarters together in a quilt-as-you-go approach.

When we opened the box, we were shocked to see the template we drew is yellowed with age and marked, "Arc quilt, 9 inch block, March 2003".  How cool is that? Nine years' gestation. Two quarters are already completed and joined together. That's fully 1/2 of the double bed-sized quilt done. We have the 3rd quarter partly assembled, and all the blocks for the 4th are there as well. We even had the foresight to package up the backing fabrics AND the border strips. What a gift, to find this almost-finished quilt! It doesn't really matter what stopped us last time. This is its moment.