My fandoms blanket: nine squares in!

by DaniGirl on March 2, 2020 · 0 comments

in Crafty

I mentioned a few posts back about discovering a passion for knitting about six months ago. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been six months – I feel like I’ve had knitting needles and yarn flying through my fingers for years now. In between all the mittens and hats and socks and other projects I’ve been doing, I’ve been working diligently on my Geek Square blanket. I’ve got nine squares done, and I figure I’m aiming for a blanket that’s 6×4 squares, or 24 squares in total.

fandom knit blanket squares

They’re in the order I knitted them, from first at the bottom right to most recent at the top left: an aperture (from a video game called Portal, but I chose it for the association with my other passion, the camera); Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (“Don’t Panic!” was almost the tagline for this blog); 20-sided die from Dungeons & Dragons; Batman (for Beloved, my comic book guy); the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter; the Hyrulean Shield from Zelda; Mario Kart; the logo from my favourite D&D playcast Critical Role; and the dragon ampersand from Dungeons & Dragons.

I might get it done some time this year – but, probably not.

As I mentioned, I stumbled across the geek-a-long blanket project when I was literally days into my new knitting habit. I didn’t know that double-knitting was considered challenging, so I followed a few tutorials and figured it out pretty quickly. Generally, a double-knitted square will have one set of colours on one side and the inverse on the other side, as you knit and purl double strands, throwing one colour to one side with a knit stitch and the other to the opposite side with a purl stitch. For the d20 square, I needed to figure out how to do “extreme” double knitting, where the two sides are different. So I did. For the first few squares, I’d count up the number of stitches in each colour and write them all out longhand as a road map for myself, but now I can follow along fairly easily with just a printout of the pattern and a ruler.

notes and yarn and blanket square

You might note that there are more D&D squares than anything else, in no small part because after a 30 year hiatus the game has become a big part of my life again – there’s definitely a post or three about THAT in the near future! It was the d20 pattern that led me to the Geek-a-long blanket in the first place, via Google Image search. They’ve been doing a knit-a-long blanket for the last several years, which is why they have such a great bank of patterns covering all sorts of geeky goodness, and I just found out that this year’s theme is ENTIRELY Dungeons & Dragons related – talk about serendipity!

For the Deathly Hallows (the triangle and circle pattern, from Harry Potter) and the Critical Role logo (the CR with a sword) I designed my own pattern using a website called Chart-Minder. The next one in my queue is also one I designed myself; can you tell what it is? I’ll probably start this square some time this week.

Millennium Falcon pattern

I’ve got a loose idea of where I’m going with the rest of the squares. I’ll be covering Star Wars in the next square, and I’ve got ideas for the Princess Bride, Pac Man, Pokemon, Minecraft, and a few other family fandoms. I’ve even got a spreadsheet with potential squares, what colours I’d need and what yarns I have in my stash. We’ll have to see what new D&D ideas appear and take those into account, too!

The only part that really concerns me is the joining of the squares. First, it’s going to be hella task just in and of itself. And some of those cast ons and cast offs are so tight I’m not sure I’ll be able to get a crochet hook in there, whatever method of joining the squares I use. I’ll be coming back to you guys for advice before I take on that task, I think. I’m not even sure what colour to use to join them all up; I think black is the likeliest choice.

I figure if I’m six months and nine squares into the project, at least I’m invested enough to keep working on it. Next stop, Millennium Falcon!


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I have been a fan of Ottawa’s Andrew King for a long time. He’s a talented painter with a delightful whimsical streak, but he also loves Ottawa’s quirky side as much – if not more! – than I do. His Twitter feed and Ottawa Rewind blog (and book!) are a constant source of delight. I was aware that he’d moved to Manotick a few years back, and it’s clear he loves living here as much as I do.

Earlier this week, I literally gasped in amazement when I saw some of his latest paintings on Twitter: he’s been doing a wonderful series of some of Manotick’s most iconic buildings, but in a way I’ve never before seen them captured. Here’s a few of them:

Original artwork by Andrew King

Original artwork by Andrew King

Original artwork by Andrew King

Original artwork by Andrew King

Are they not exquisite? They fill my heart with joy looking at them. I love how they’re iconic Manotick and yet utterly unique. I especially love this one because he’s sought out and captured the former home and studio of Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson. Did you know he used to live in Manotick? One of my favourite parks for family photos is named for him!

Original artwork by Andrew King

We are, in fact, on an island here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve walked just about everywhere you can on the island without finding a lighthouse. This reminds me of my other happy place, PEI, though, so I’m okay with it. 😉

Original artwork by Andrew King

Extraordinary, right? I was so taken with them that I reached out and introduced myself (we’ve been following each other on Twitter for years, but never had reason to make contact) and asked if I could share some of the images on the blog. Andrew, who used to live in Westboro, moved to Manotick three years ago. He told me that for him, over time Westboro had lost the small-town neighbourhood vibe that he had loved to infill, traffic noise and corporate greed. In Manotick, he found what I’ve loved for the 10+ years we’ve lived here: a close-knit community where everyone smiles and says hello.

When I asked him about the inspiration for these paintings, he said, “Being a late 1800s mill town, [Manotick] has done a remarkable job of preserving that original character, which I wanted to capture in my paintings. That is this show, Views Of A Village, a place I know proudly call home and hope to for a long time. The historic buildings inspire me as does the laid back river lifestyle that the town is built on. With all these great elements it provides me with a relaxing and inspiring painting environment at my home studio…and if it’s good enough for Group Of Seven artist AY Jackson to build his studio, then I guess I picked a good spot!”

My camera and I agree wholeheartedly. 😉

Even more delightfully, he’s exhibiting his work at Manotick’s newest cozy spot to gather, the wonderful new Cafe 692 on Manotick Main Street. Here’s some bonus art with all the details you need if you want to come see the paintings in person:

Andrew King at 692 Cafe

If you can’t make it for the opening on Thursday, Andrew assures me that the art will be on display for a few weeks at least.

If you go:
Views of a Village at the 692 Café
5546 Manotick Main St
Opens February 20, 7 to 9 pm


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“Checkmate, nihilism!”

by DaniGirl on February 11, 2020 · 4 comments

in Crafty

I turned 50 back in August, and for my birthday I asked for some supplies to re-learn how to knit. I wanted to take up knitting for a handful of reasons, but mostly it was to have something other than mindlessly surfing screens in my downtime, and because I have always been a maker.

I had originally learned how to knit when I was a kid; there was a lady in our neighbourhood named Trudy who taught me, when I was about 10. The 70s and 80s were a different time – I don’t know how I met Trudy, a single woman with no kids, or how I ended up friends with her, but I have clear memories of going to her house, alone, and her teaching me to knit. The only knit item I remember ever finishing was a long red and white scarf for my high school boyfriend. I have carried with me for years a bag of yarn and scraps were supposed to be a blanket in the late 80s or early 90s, but that was the last time I’d knit, aside from teaching Tristan how to do basic garter stitch a few years ago.

So, I asked for a set of double-pointed needles and some acrylic yarn to try to make a fingerless glove pattern I’d seen on Ravelry. I’d never used DPNs before, but that’s what Google is for. (How did we ever learn things before Google?) Then I googled long-tail cast on, and M1L and M1R and how to pick up stitches, and pretty much every other thing in that pattern except the basic knit stitch that I knew. I even made a test glove before I used the “good” acrylic, which turned out to be a horrible stiff yarn that vacillated randomly in thickness and I hated by the end of the first glove.

Long before I finished the fingerless gloves, that I had by that point fallen out of love with but was determined to finish anyway, I discovered a project that made my heart sing: the Geek-along blanket. It was a series of double-knit squares that you could knit and join into your own blanket. There were squares for D&D, for Terry Pratchett, for Star Wars and Star Trek and Harry Potter. There were Zelda squares and Pac Man squares and even a Douglas Adams square. Oh yes, this was a project I had to try. So I learned to double-knit, and then when I found a pattern with a d20 from Dungeons and Dragons with a natural 20 on one side and a natural 1 on the other side of the square, I learned to double-knit while throwing different patterns to either side, also called extreme double knitting. I’ve got eight squares done so far, aiming for 24, but other projects keep getting in the way!

Like thrummed mittens – I’ve made two sets of those, plus some thrummed slippers for Granny for Christmas. I went on a hat-making spree and made slouchy beanies for my brother for his birthday, and for Beloved and Simon for Christmas. I designed (!) and made a Link (from Zelda) hat for Tristan. And I finally finished those first fingerless gloves. Though I didn’t love them, Lucas did, and he wore them all through the autumn until it was too cold for fingerless gloves. And I chose a new pattern and made a nicer set for myself in fancy Malabrigo yarn. Oh, and I made a Baby Yoda, as one does.

Projects I've finished so far

Finished projects to date – August 2019 to February 2020

But! The thing that I most wanted to try and most feared was socks. I looked at pattern after pattern. I was intimidated by the heel flap, by picking up those stitches. Eventually, I settled on a pattern that seemed both tried and true and straightforward, and I set off to make socks.

Back in the fall, I came across this quote about knitting on Reddit, via Tumblr:

“The thing about knitting is that it’s much harder to fear the existential futility of all your actions while you’re doing it. Like okay, sure, sometimes it’s hard to believe you’ve made any positive impact on the world. But it’s pretty easy to believe you’ve made a sock. Look at it. There it is. Put it on, now you’re foot’s warm.

Checkmate, nihilism!”

Checkmate nihilism indeed. I not only made a sock, I made TWO SOCKS. Take that, second sock syndrome!

So I’m, um, sort of obsessed with knitting now. I’m currently in the middle of a simple little hat to practice stranded colourwork, because why not? And I have 16 blanket squares left to make, and then (**weeps**) join. And I’ve stashed the yarn to make at least four more pairs of socks. And several hats. And I bought the pattern for a Cowichan sweater that I opened when I downloaded it, took one look at, and said, “oh crap, I am not ready for this yet. Not even close.”

But, maybe next week?


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In my last post, I mentioned that if I chose to go ahead with blogging (which I’ve clearly decided to do!) there would be less emphasis on the kids and their stories. And then don’t they just go ahead and have a week full of amazing and exciting milestones that I pretty much just have to share?

Tristan is finishing his last year of high school and has had his eye for the last year or so on a program at Carleton University called Interactive Media Design. It’s a very cool program that’s a perfect marriage of two things Tristan loves: art and technology. It’s basically the design side of video game production, with a strong foundation in the computer science behind it, and in the end a graduate will have both a degree from Carleton University and a diploma from Algonquin College. It’s a prestigious program, though, and they only accept 50 of the 500 or more applicants they receive each year. In addition to passing Grade 12 functions, which was a nail-biter for a while, he’s had to prepare a portfolio that will be weighed equally with his grades in his application. He’s just about to submit the portfolio – cross your fingers and toes! But, while he was busy doing that, he also applied to two other programs at Carleton for his plan B and plan C alternatives, and to our delight, received early acceptance this week to both of them! So it looks like we’ll have a Carleton university student in the house as of September, one way or the other.

Not to be outdone by his older brother, Simon turned 16 on Saturday and by lunchtime on the day he turned 16 he had his newly minted beginner’s driver’s licence in his hand. (Yiiiiiiiiikes!) After a few careful loops around the empty parking lot of government office, he has taken to the roads like a duckling to water.

Lucas doesn’t have anything quite so exciting on his plate, but he did turn 12 this week, and is finishing his last year of elementary school before going to middle school in the fall when Tristan goes off to university.

So in the span of a few short days, we have one child (or not-so-much-a-child) with two early acceptances to university, one baby turning 12, and one with his driver’s licence!! It’s been a proud week in parenting, and they’ve come a long way since the sweet little babies they were when I started the blog – which, by the way, happens to be exactly 15 years ago this week.

So, I guess I’m back!


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It’s been about six months since I published a blog post, and in the year before that I only posted a handful of times. I’ve been wondering: is it time to shutter the blog? The kids are too old for me to write about them now; their stories are their own to tell. I used to summarize the theme of the blog as “raising a family in Ottawa” but I feel like the lion’s share of that work is done. And while photos have sustained the blog for the last few years, I don’t feel like I have enough to say about taking them anymore, at least not enough to keep the blog interesting and relevant.

So, is there value in me blogging any more? There’s a cost to consider. It’s not overly expensive to host the blog, and I host my photography site off the same domain, so that’s not going anywhere. More problematically, it’s been a while since I updated the look and especially the functionality. Google tells me it’s not particularly mobile friendly. I can’t even remember half the ways I hacked the code over the years and my eyes glaze over every time I think of making any changes to it. And now Flickr has a new model where the thousands upon thousands of images that I had hosted for free going way back to 2005 will now cost about a hundred bucks a year to keep, or else I’ll have a blog riddled with broken links and lost images.

Turning 50 has been a big year for me, and I have new things that I’m interested in now. I’d like to blog about my new knitting addiction (make all the things!) and I’ve been exploring Tarot cards. I’d like to have a place to talk about the food I’ve enjoyed making, the ways I’m expressing my creativity through making things, and how satisfying it is to be a woman on the far side of 50 who has figured out so many of the very same things I whined about when blog and I were both younger and less sure of ourselves.

I don’t even particularly mind that I’m likely to be talking to myself. The heyday of the blog, a dozen years ago when Lucas was the Player to be Named Later and I was up to my ears and sinking in the quagmire of parenting three under six with a tribe of online friends and followers has long since passed. I don’t mind talking to myself – I do it all the time! I’m just not sure if I’m invested enough in the idea of continuing to do the kind of updates and maintenance that I really should do. Oh technology.

I guess I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, or even see you later. Maybe I’ll just putter around here for a while, without any pressure or expectations from myself, and if I decide I’m going to keep on keeping on, one day when I’m full of energy and enthusiasm I’ll look into overhauling the works. If a girl can grow and change and mature, her silly old blog can follow suit, right?


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Almost 10 years ago to the day, after our Dodge Caravan went up in flames in my one and only serious car accident, we bought my ‘little blue car’, a 2009 Mazda 5. It was so long ago that one of our primary concerns was room in the cargo area for a stroller; Lucas was barely over a year old at the time, and Simon hadn’t even started JK yet.

That little blue car served us well over the years. I loved it so much that when Beloved needed a new car, we bought a 2012 Mazda 5 to make a his-and-hers matching set. Alas, after 10 years and 175,000 km, it’s time to trade it in.

It’s been about five years since our failed attempt to get the car detailed, and I can’t say I’ve been scrupulous about keeping it clean since then, aside from an occasional swipe with a vinegary paper towel or $1 worth of gas-station vacuuming. Cleaning the car out for trade-in has been like an archaeological excavation of the past 10 years of our lives. I expected the crayons, goldfish and the Starbucks stir sticks, smiled at the acorns, sea glass and installation manual for a forward-facing car seat, and laughed outright at the three (three!) lens caps and the Apple charger cord – so that’s where they went. I can’t remember the last time someone needed a baby spoon, but there was one of those, and a rainbow Pride flag, too.

I’m super excited about the new car, but I’m nostalgic about trading this one in. I’ve never owed a car this long before, and the kids have gone from babies to teenagers begging to sit in the driver’s seat. It’s been to every province east of here save Newfoundland and Labrador, and down the 401 to southern Ontario more times than I can count. It gets cranky in the deep winter mornings and won’t always open the windows when I ask, and I’ve learned not to pull out of the driveway until I’m sure the window won’t freeze-fog over on me. It never once broke down on me, though, and I’ve only had to put a post-it note in front of the pesky check-engine light a few times when I just didn’t have the spoons to deal with it. It has been our family car as our family grew up, and like the rest of us, it has a few eccentricities that we mostly overlooked because it was otherwise a good friend.

185:365 My new Mazda 5!

We both have a few more miles on us now!

And about that new car – holy smokes but cars have changed since the last time we were in the market. Stay tuned for the big reveal on the next-ten-years car!


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The one with the radioactive sea glass

12 August 2019 Creative licence

Longtime readers of the blog know that we’ve been obsessed with sea glass for many, many years. I was first introduced to the idea when we visited Bar Harbor, way back when we were a family of four. My bloggy friend Phantom Scribbler introduced me to collecting tiny pebble-sized bits of glass as we wandered […]

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Ottawa Family Fun: The summer 2019 Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Canada Science and Tech museum

9 August 2019 Ottawa Family Fun

Have you checked out the newly renovated and freshly amazing Canada Science and Technology Museum lately? We went last week on an adventure to celebrate my birthday, including a stop at the special Leonardo da Vinci exhibit and it. was. AWESOME! Ottawa’s Science and Tech museum has always been one of our favourite places to […]

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In which Lucas gets his Hogwarts acceptance letter

15 February 2019 Fun for kiddies

This has definitely been the year of all things Harry Potter in our lives. I’ve been reading the series to Lucas for more than a year (we’re about half way through the Half Blood Prince), and our trip to England last summer was pretty much based on cramming in as many Harry Potter references as […]

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Going to the dogs, photographically speaking

3 February 2019 Mothership Photography

What’s that old expression, about never working with children and dogs? Clearly, I never got that memo. I was looking back over the last year or so of my photography clients and realized that more and more families are asking if it’s okay to bring their dogs along for a family portrait session — and […]

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