Happy New Year Wishes for You!

Best Wishes for you this year. I wish you all the best in all you endeavors and adventures.

Also wishing you lots of monkeys to take over your bad habits from you!

Thanks for reading the Spendy Pencil and here’s to another year of sharing and learning from each other.

I’ve also gotten rid of Candy Crush games from my phone so that’s one goal done. Thanks Mock Sonkey the Sock Monkey!

A Cup Cosy for All Seasons. Sock Monkey vs. Hello Kitty

Maybe I’m excessively delicate, but I don’t like to hold on to a cup that is burning hot or a cup that is icy cold. I feel guilty when I use the paper cup holders, sleeves, cosies, whatever you want to call them. But I lose stuff easily. The more boring it is, the easier I seem to lose it. Cute and quirky sticks with me a lot better. And I found a solution for my cup woes.

I found this pattern during a visit to Gina Brown’s during Mission Yarnpossible: Calgary. I was looking for something else completely but couldn’t resist this pattern book, Monkey Around by Patons. You can get the cup cozy pattern for free at Paton’s site Yarnspiration.com
but the book has lots of fun patterns.

The sock monkey cup cosy is really easy to make. I finished the first one in a day, including time to run out and buy notions. I din’t enjoy making the ears. They were fast, but… meh for the ears. I also used different yarn than listed in the pattern so this can be a great stash busting pattern. My mom gave me 5 balls of Sirdar Denim tweed DK so I bought some yarn at Gina Brown’s to complement and complete the pattern. I have enough yarn to make a sock monkey cup holder army.

A friend has her birthday coming up and she loved my sock monkey cozy. Since she is a Hello Kitty fan, I adapted the pattern and added a needle felt name tag.

If anyone is interested in the pattern I made for the Hello Kitty face, let me know and I’ll post it.

Hope you enjoy the cup cozies and let me know what you think.


Mission Yarnpossible: Calgary

Since my European Yarnpossible missions, the wristwarmers,  and Argie I hadn’t made anything for months. From late March, I’d been working on a writing project and a photography project which took up all my time. In May I went to the Romantic Times Book Lovers’ Conference in New Orleans and visited my family in Canada. It was lots of work and lots of fun. But I was going into maker withdrawal. Making something from yarn is like a kind of meditation for me with the bonus that I have some product to show for my time. Still, I don’t live in Calgary anymore so I don’t know any knitting stores there.

My mom gave me five balls of Sirdar Denim Tweed DK that she found during a cleaning binge. I thought, “Hey great! Free yarn.” But then the yarn sat there, and it just begged to be made into something. But I don’t have a crochet hook. Then I think, “Hey! I could maybe buy some Noro books in English.” Remember that Phildar pattern I liked? Noro Love has a pattern called Aimee that is similar. I know you can order books online, but I’ve been burned too many times before on craft, crochet and knitting books. Just because the picture is great, doesn’t mean that the book is going to work for YOU. I need to hold that book in my hands and check all the patterns and the instructions before I spend my money.

Gina Brown’s
Happily, Gina Brown’s has a great Noro selection and a great selection of Noro pattern books. I also wanted to consult someone because I’d need to adapt it to make it longer and I need advice on the wool. The pattern calls for Kochoran, a wool that Noro discontinued. There is no substitute for talking to experienced staff at a knitting store when it comes to swapping out wool.

diamond_woolI promptly got the Noro Love book and then talked yarn with the staff. She recommended I try Malabrigo Chunky or Diamond alpaca wool.

I loved the feel and colors of Diamond alpaca. I wasn’t sure about my tension, so I bought a ball to try it out. I knew right away I wasn’t going to be my sweater. It was soft, colorful, quick to knit but I forgot how much alpaca sheds. I gave up on the swatch but decided to use up the yarn by making a pair of slippers which would be far from my face in daily life. I took a look at some slipper patterns then decided to try my hand at making my own pattern. Luckily I used just under one ball, plus a contrasting trim to make up the slippers. It took about two days to make them, including start, restarts and shopping. Everything was great but the shedding! I was covered in blue hair. It looked like I was owned by a big blue dog.

Super warm, felted slippers from Estonia
Even super warm, felted slippers from Estonia are no match for chilly ceramic tiles

The idea to make slippers was no doubt was inspired by the glacial temperatures of the ceramic tiles on my parents’ floor. Even my super slippers Ratti and Ratto couldn’t protect me from chills. It turns out that my new alpaca slippers make great inserts for Ratti and Ratto. The extra layer of alpaca is like a massage for my feet.

While shopping at Gina Browns’ I nabbed a fun book, Monkey Around by Patons for knitting or crocheting various kinds of sock monkey toys and accessories. I promptly bought more wool to complement the my recently acquired denim tweed to make a sock monkey cosy. I post about the sock monkey cup holders in next week’s Yarn Addiction Thursday.

Gina Brown’s has lots of lovely fibers in some of my favorite brands, Malabrigo, Noro and Cascade. The staff was lovely and I got lots of great advice. They also showed me a pair of magical knitting needles. Check them out in an upcoming Yarn Addiction Thursday post.

5718 1A Street SW
Calgary, AB T2H 0E8
Phone number
(403) 255-2200

Pudding Yarn
I just happened on Pudding Yarn when I took my mom out for lunch on 17th Avenue. We parked the car and right outside was a yarn store I’d never heard of. It’s been there for a while, but I no longer live in Calgary I’m out of touch with shops. It was also perfect timing because I had just decided that the lime green cascade yarn I had for the sock monkey cup was a great contrast color for the slippers but the size just looked too awkward. My attempt at amore delicate edging failed miserably. The woman who worked at Pudding Yarn was helpful and the store has a lot of nice, luxurious yarns. I was able to get a really nice yarn (Phildar, coincidentally) in a lovely deep magenta to trim the slippers.

1516 6 St SW, Calgary AB T2R 0Z8
(403) 244-2996

It’s interesting how my memory of yarn shops in Calgary has changed, or perhaps knitting in Canada has changed. When I was just starting to knit in high school, most of the patterns were Patons or Beehive with the occassional exotic French patterns. The yarn was ok, but not particularly amazing compared to the wonderful array of colors, textures and materials available today.

Day After Tokyo Snow 2014

All the snow that fell was well on its way to melting when I left the house today. My snow-sock monkey did not fare too well.


We decided to walk to Maison Keyser in Denenchofu for breakfast. Here are some photos from along the way.


Really majime (=serious, hard working) dog. He took his guard duties seriously even though he’s the size of a coffee cup.



This snow is about to fall any second.

20140209-130055.jpg The bus has chains!

Snowman collection from walking around:


Sock Monkey: Snow Version. Tokyo Snow 2014

Today it began, the largest snowfall Tokyo has seen in 18 years. Trains were delayed, stopped. Flights were cancelled and very few cars on the road. I decided to curl up, safe and toasty, at home until it was all over.

Snow-Sock Monkey seriously considers the ramifications of all this snow!
Snow-Sock Monkey seriously considers the ramifications of all this snow!

I didn’t completely ignore the snow. I spent a couple hours trying to take photos of snowflakes on my balcony but going out the front door. Not interested. That attitude almost turned out to be a crucial error. At 11:00 I decided to check to see if the snow had turned to rain. I tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. About 20 centimeters of snow piled up in front of my door. Wet, heavy snow that would likely have frozen my door shut overnight.

I threw my shoulder into it and after three or four good shoves, I got the door open. Then I realized I was actually going to have to shovel snow. Problem was, I don’t have a shovel. I grabbed this kind of dust pan and moved the snow to create a path. Now I had a heap of snow piled in my postage stamp yard.

What to do, what to do. Of course, build a snow creation! I decided to recreate my sock monkey in a snow version. Here is my sock monkey wearing a backpack for comparison.

A sock monkey wears a backpack
My sockmonkey is ready to travel!

Here are photos of the snow-sockmonkey and a few of my husband.

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