Monday, July 20, 2015

July already!

Wow, has it been a long time.  Life has been incredibly busy, and to be honest, I have been battling another round of depression and health issues.  The health issues turned out to be a tempest in a teapot, thanks to a careless radiologist reading the ultrasound of my neck two years ago.  Between waiting for another ultrasound, followed by radioactive testing-- with its requirement to be off my thyroid meds, and then awaiting the appointment with my endocrinologist, it has been a rather trying time.  Thank heavens everything turned out just fine in the thyroid end of things!   I have, however, been knitting, and I will endeavour to show my efforts over the coming weeks. 

My most recent finished objects are shown below--
These are the Fishtail Hat and Fingerless Mitts designed by Gail Bable and published in the 2008 Pattern A Day knitting calendar.  I used James Brett Aran With Wool, sadly discontinued now, perhaps one-fourth of the ball, and 4.5mm needles.  These are very quick projects and the directions are quite clear.  The only modification I might make is that the fishtail pattern could be centred on the top of the hand and garter stitch for the palm of the hand, which would then require a left and right hand direction.  I understand why this was not done, and they are fine.  Really.  It is just that sometimes we want to tweak patterns.  

Having completed these, I wound the rest of the yarn into a ball and will be donating to charity via the store.  I am determined that once a yarn is used in a project, any leftovers must move on.  I have far too many partial skeins around and I would like to simplify my stash.  Sort of.  Kind of.  Arggh.  

I had an empty project bag, and we have declared Saturday's to be Start Something New days at the store.  Accordingly, I pulled out this little sweetie:
On the left is the camisole I have started in Dye-Version stretch bamboo, as specified in the pattern.  Barb is using Katia Stretch Cotton in hers, so we will get a great comparison of the yarns.  

A project completed recently (See?  Here is my attempt to catch up!) is this nice little cowl.  It is worked in Berroco Folio, colour 4505.  Folio is a 65/35 superfine alpaca and rayon blend, rated as a double-knit weight by Berroco.   I used approximately 1.5 skeins of yarn, knitting on the specified 4.5mm needles.  This blocked out really nicely, the knitting was fun, and I wore this one day last week at the store because I was cold.  I rate this project as a 5/5 and a complete success.

We are trying to decide whether to bring this yarn into the store.  Berroco yarns are priced in U.S. Dollars, and the exchange rate is so low.  The suggested retail price from Berroco allows for a 90-cent dollar, not a 70-cent dollar, so we have mixed feelings.  The yarn claims to be DK weight, but I am not really sure that is accurate.  I have another Folio project on needles so will have more opinions later. 

In other news, my friend Christi from Timmins popped by the store.  We both bemoaned our lack of blogging efforts and promised each other we would try harder to maintain the blog.  Here is my end of the promise!  and it feels good to be back. 

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Despite the absence of posts, there has been a lot of knitting around here.  We are still trying to recover from the Very Bad Things that started last August, and I do find solace in my knitting.

Today's blog post features a shawl that I absolutely fell in love with, and decided that I must knit.  it is called "In the Pink" and was a free Ravelry download.  It is knit in sections, the first being the centre fractal portion. 
Stitch markers are your friends, because they become extremely important a bit later.   The live stitches, with stitch markers, are left on a holder, or better yet, a spare needle. 

Next, you knit the "wings," both left and right.  Again. These stitches are left on holders, or spare needles.  Yes, you are up to 3 needles!
The you start the joining process.  Stitches are knit together from the wing and the centre, one at a time.  Stitches are grafted from the wing and the centre portion.  Then you work the filling in lace.  Repeat for the second side, and you have most of the work done.  

Then the border is knit on, and joined at the end of every other row.  A bit repetitive, but oh-so-worth it.  At the end, you have an absolutely beautiful shawl.
The shape of the shawl means that it will stay on your shoulders easily, and it can wrap right around you and keep you all snuggled and warm. 

I used one strand of FdC Centolavaggi and one strand of Misti HandPaint Lace (colours 416 and I have lost the ball band for the Misti, darnitall!) and a 3.75mm needle.  I ended  up on a set of Hiya Hiya sharps, and they were truly marvelous.  If I didn't already have a full set of Addis and Addi Interchangeable, I could see myself switching over to the Hiya Hiyas.

As much as I love this shawl, I have a friend who needs a beautiful, warm hug.  I am wrapping it up and gifting it to her this week. 

I will endeavour to be back soon to tell you about all my other finished works. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Trying again, another new year

Last year, I resolved to do better about keeping the blog updated.  I did pretty well, slacked off, started up again.  And then in mid-August, some Very Bad Things happened in my life.  They rocked my world big time.  I stopped eating, lost 15 pounds.  For the record. I don't recommend this weight loss plan.  it wreaks havoc on your system.  I eventually restarted the anti-depressant medications, despite the cost.  Life began returning to the new normal.  I am not going to detail the Very Bad Things, especially since we are still trying to process through them.  Right now, the upshot is that I am working in a law office in The City one day a week, with some extra hours gained from e-mailed work, and the remaining days at the shop.  

I have been knitting still.  We published a calendar at the store for 2015 with twelve original patterns, none of them scarves.  For the record, writing patterns is HARD.  What seems perfectly clear in my head often isn't to other people.  Quite the learnng curve, to be certain. 

Christmas was spent visiting my son, daughter-in-law and grandson.  It was a very much needed holiday away.  We did a very minimal gift-giving regimen this year, which also greatly reduced the holiday stresses.  I did, however, knit socks for the family.  

It really was a great visit.  I was able to spend one-on-one time with each of the kids and grandson, plus the weather was awesome.  Starting with the baby, you see his Christmas socks, my son's, my daughter-in-law's socks that match the baby, my husband and mine!  The other two children were in Michigan visiting ther dad, but they did get socks.

We are teaching an Aran vest project at the store this month.  I got the sample vest knit, and it was such fun.  The pattern was published in Knittong Traditions Spring 2014 issue.  

I apologize for the crapticular photos.  I will get some better ones from the store.  I used 5.5mm needles to get gauge, and 260g of James Brett Aran with Wool.  Sadly, the yarn has been discontinued, but Hayfield makes a similar fibre which should work just as well.   I followed the pattern as written, although in hindsight I wish I had lengthened it a tad.  Oh well.

Today is a very grey, rainy day and I am fighting the urge to huddle on the couch with an afghan, the cat, and my I-Pad, being totally useless.  So far I have folded laundry, done this blogpost and done a 15-second Plank position.  Not terribly productive, but better than nothing.  I am off to block my vest and do some handwashing, make up some food for left-overs later in the week, and some knitting.  The Edwardian Cardigan is out of hibernation, working on the sleeves.  It is NOT travel knitting, so will only get worked on here at home.

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July, and then some

As promised, I am back with more finished objects!

In preparation for the August class at the shop, I worked up an entrelac scarf:

the design is called "Upstairs and Down" from the newest issue of Knitter's magazine.  My sample was knit from three balls of Noro Chirimen and 5.5mm needles.  Not a big fan of so much ribbing, but because it is entrelac you are only working in rows of 9 stitches.  The worst and hardest thing about this scarf is making certain that you have reached the end of the tier before starting back the other way.  I can't tell you how many times I turned too early!

I also finished up the sample shawl from Sublime Extra Fine Merino Lace, modelled here by my friend Barb. 
I used Lala's Simple Shawl and the wool held double.  I love it, as does Barb.  We might have to venture into the mud wrestling room to determine ownership.  (Perhaps I should enlist my siblings in a training exercise to warm up?).  In any event, this was 3 balls of wool and a 4.5mm needle.  I love it, and a large part of me wishes I had sprung for the fourth ball and made it a bit larger.  As it is, though, it is a perfect summer cover-up.

I also finished up a pair of socks!  these are "Flambeau" designed by Terry Ross.
I used one full ball of SRK On Your Toes Bamboo, but ran short at the cuff.  Being ever thrifty, I simply did the cuff in a contrasting colour--coral.  Both these yarns were in my stash, so it's all good.  I did modify the pattern a wee bit--the short row reel was written in garter stitch, which made me crazy for reasons I will explain further.  So I simply switched to stocking stitch and carried on.  Holy moly--are these comfortable socks!  I just might switch over to short row heels in the future!  Do other folks have a preference for short row vs heel flap heels?  Why?

And the craziness over the garter stitch short row heel, as well as the purple shawl?  I have been procrastinating getting a new prescription for my glasses.  It was the lace-weight shawl that did me in.  Frustrated that I couldn't see clearly, I finally caved.  turns out that my frames were too old (heh, who knew wire frames had a life expectancy?) so I ordered new frames as well.  Behold:

These are executive bifocals, so the reading area is larger than usual.  I also went without the transitioning between the distance and reading portion.  I can see!  the downside is that I also see the line between the two prescriptions and my brain translates that to be the top of my frames.  I find I am regularly tipping my head back, when I don't or shouldn't.  It is a learning experience, but this "old dog" is determined to learn the new trick.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Shhh.  Listen.  Do you hear that?  Yep.  Crickets.  And the rustling of calendar pages as June and most of July whizzed right past my ears.  I HAVE been busy, just not busy blogging. 

So what have I been doing?  Aside from NOT biking, camping and canoeing?  Well, there has been a fair bit of knitting.  I will now show off some of the finished items:

This is Audrey modelling the shawl I knit for her.  The yarn was a mystery yarn from her stash.  I believe it was a rayon slub yarn.   In any event, Audrey found this yarn and had a vision of how she wanted it to look, but feared her skills were not up to the task.  She asked me ... Told me to select a pattern, and gave me a price.  I went home and pulled out my favourite shawl book ...

I showed Audrey the two possibilities, both of which she approved.  I started knitting.  The Victoria Shawl, found on page 154.   I thoroughly enjoyed the knitting of this little beauty.  The centre panel design is regular, easily memorized, and calming.  and when I had completed all five and a half feet of it, the knitted on border commenced.  It, too, was enjoyable and relaxing.  I was, and still am, totally enchanted. 

Look at how beautifully the border turns the corner!  You would never know that the centre panel had a 90-degree corner right there.   In the interest of truth in blogging, I will say that I used a 4.5mm Addi lace needle but I cannot tell for certain how much yarn.  The shawl has been delivered to its recipient, and I neglected to weigh the yarn when I received it.  I can say that I spent many week nights and mornings in June working on it though.

It is not often that I enjoy a project enough to knit it twice, especially a very large project like this one.  However, the Victoria Shawl just might be the exception.  What is holding me back?  The abundance of beautiful lace projects in the book.   I want to knit one of each of them.  The charts are well done, the explanations are clear and concise.   And the finished objects?  Even better than the pictures on the book!

I have more finished objects to show ... Now to decide which one to discuss next.  

How about this little gem?
This pattern is the Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down, knit in Estelle Super Alpaca Handpaint and bordered with Hayfield Chunky With Wool.  The buttons?  Yes, they do have a treble clef on them.  This sweater is intended for my grandson, and his papa is a musician.  I used three skeins of the alpaca and I skein of the Hayfield, with enough leftovers to make a hat.  Possibly even some mittens if the kids desire them.  They kind of live in the South, though, so perhaps mittens are overkill.  In any event I used a 5.0mm needle, since the pattern is written for a worsted weight yarn.  

I can't say enough good about this pattern.  It is knit from the top down so minimal sewing in the finishing department.  The shawl collar and button bands are worked in one piece by picking up stitches along the fronts and back neck.   Did I mention all in one piece?  Minimal sewing?  I thought so.  The pattern comes in larger sizes as well, and worth the price of the pattern.

OK.  Four pictures is enough.  I will save some finished projects for next week.

And what am I working on right now?  In order of their length in the WIP:

The Building Blocks Afghan by Michele Hinter.  I am sewing the squares together, so expect this puppy to be done soon, soon, soon!

The Edwardian Cardigan.  I am working the second front shoulder, leaving the sleeves and button bands.  There are, I kid you not, a million ends to be sewn in.  I am contemplating working a doubled button band just to allow me to run the ends into the ensuing pocket.   I am afraid I will go blind running them under.    And the sleeves.  Yeah.  Nine colours in two row stripes.  I CAN carry the yarns up the side, just to prevent there being so many ends.  Nine active balls of yarn though.  I expect you can see the dilemma here.

Malabrigo Socks.  These little beauties were supposed to be for the 2015 N.E.W. Calendar, but have fought me valiantly every step of the way.  I am not so sure just where these guys are headed, to be honest.

Chunky-weight Vest in hand-dyed wool.  As feared, I ran short of wool for the big cowl collar.  I have a similarly-coloured ball of Patons Classic, which will be used for the seaming.  I think I will use it for the balance of the cowl as well, but have yet to decide if it will be the bottom  (attached to the vest neck edge) which would be visible at the front, or the top edge, which would fold down and be visible in the back, but not the front.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. 

And now it is time to head off to work at the shop.  Ta-ta. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

In anticipation of Mother's Day

Most folks have coffee cups that match their plateware.  We do too, but those cups are either stored elsewhere, or have migrated to the back of the shelf.  Instead, I reach into the cupboard and see a dozen mugs that have been gifted to me or us by friends or family.  Every time I pick up a coffee mug, I look at it and smile, and thank the heavens for that person's presence in my life and send wishes and hopes for a good life to them. Many of these people live far away, and I do so wish we all lived closer together. 

There are three mugs that were gifted to me, and I treasure them.  If given a choice, these are the ones I use. 
My eldest son gave me the mug on the left; my second son the middle, and my daughter the one on the right.  They are the best things I have done in my life, and I love them dearly.   I do hope they know just how very much they are loved.

Ahem.  that was mushy and I will now wipe my eyes and in general clean up.  Excuse me while I do so.

There has been knitting over the past six weeks.  One finished object that I will not show.  It grew in the dryer, and I am pondering whether it needs to be re-knit.   Other knitting includes the Edwardian Cardigan

I have one front completed and am halfway thru the armhole on the back.   This leaves me the left front, two sleeves and at least one million tails to weave in.   I am very seriously contemplating working the button bands on the knitting machine so that I can make the band doubled, braid the tails together and then bury them into the band.   Anyone have a compelling argument why I shouldn't do so?   The yarns I am using are Cascade Heritage (x2), Misti Handpaint Sock (x3), Estelle Sock It To Me, Never Enough Wool, Lang and Fame Trends.  Yes, nine colours of sock yarn.   It is possible I need my head examined; however, I expect the finished cardigan will totally be worth it.

I am also working a lace shawl from Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today.  
This is a mystery yarn given to me by the person who asked for said knitting.  I got to choose the pattern of my choice, so I selected "The Victoria Shawl" on page 153.   It is a fun and easy knit and I am currently two-thirds thru the body of the shawl.  

In fact, the shawl is easy enough that I have been watching "Sherlock" and/or listening to podcasts while knitting.  I am particularly fond of Curious Handmade and Stash and Burn.  Both generally offer a smile, a laugh, and even helpful ideas for techniques or patterns.  Check them out if you have some spare time.   You just might enjoy them!

Our knitting community at the store has thrown down a challenge for themselves.   If they complete 2,500 finished objects by midnight August 31, Barb and I will appear in a bathtub of yarn on the front of our 2015 N.E.W. Calendar.  I see today they have upped the ante by declaring if they manage to exceed the goal, we have to appear on the back cover as well.   We are currently at 1,064 or thereabouts on the tally board.  AND my definition of "community" includes folks who drop by the store or blog ... Which means that folks like my friends Christy and Phyllis, and my niece Megan also get to assist in the tally. Keep 'em coming, folks.  Barb and I are ecstatic at the numbers, impressed by the depth and breadth of the projects, and terrified.  

You know, if knitters ruled the world, I bet there wouldn't be poverty, global climate change or wars, AND there'd be a cure for cancer. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

So many yarns, so little time.

I have been knitting.  Some might call it obsessively.  but the wools are so gorgeous.  How can I stop? I want to see the next combination!    What has me enthralled?    The Edwardian Cardigan.   My version thus far:
I have completed the second tier of blocks.  I am using three colors of Misti Alpaca, two skeins of Cascade Heritage, and one each of Estelle Sock It To Me, Marks & Katten Fame Trends and our own Never Enough Wool.    This project had been in the offing since before Christmas, but I hadn't been totally happy with my original colour choices.   Having swapped out three of the original colours for what you see above, I am totally in love.   Aside from being fiddley, this is a straight forward entrelac knit.  It's the three colours in each section that make it so interesting. 

What else have I been doing?   The Elsebeth Lavold Ylva is completed and drying after it's bath.  I used four skeins of Silky Wool and a 4.0m needle.  Can't wait for some warmer weather!    

As an aside, can you believe this weather?  I don't know about you, but I am over winter.   Give me some sunshine, fresh air and warm breezes.  Please.

I am working on a pair of mystery projects, destined for the 2015 N.E.W. Calendar.   Here is a peek at the second project:
I'm such a tease, aren't I?

Finally, the Building Blocks afghan.   I have completed six squares, with the seventh class and square scheduled for the second Sunday in April. 
I am pleased that my class is enjoying the project and are mostly right with me.   It is such pleasure to teach, especially with willing and happy students.  The afghans are going to be marvellous.

Not much else happening in my life right now.  Just waiting for the ice to go out from the lake, for biking season, scheduling my next visit with family in Michigan and down south, and knitting.