Sunday, November 15, 2020

November 15, 2020

 November is here, with blustery winds and rain.  This year we have the sailboats safely stored for winter, the canoes snugly tucked away and the dock sections all ashore.  Every fall is different, and we tend to procrastinate getting ready for winter.  We want that last sail, that last canoe ride, that last sunset on the dock.  Now it is sunsets on the deck, or from the dining table.  The house is fairly snug against the winter weather, so there is that. 

kn knitting news, I sent my daughter a picture ...

She was confused ... until I sent here THIS picture:

This is her shawl, quite possibly for her wedding.  It is the Diamond Rings shawl, designed by Donna Druchunas.  I used 8 balls of Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit, in colour 7512, which is a delightful baby blue.  (I needed the 8th ball for the last 4 rows of the border.). I used a 3.75mm needle, as suggested by the designer.

Why cotton?  My daughter has a sensitivity to wool, so merino was out.  We do not know when the actual event will occur, so I didn’t really want to use alpaca. (In fact, we are not entirely certain that alpaca will not give her itchies, so that was another consideration.). Finally, she thought the shawl MIGHT be used as a throw over the back of the sofa afterward.  Cotton it was!  

I blocked this by letting it have a nice swim in the bathtub with a wee bit of Eucalan. Then it went through a spin cycle in the washing machine.  (Our machine is a front-load, so reasonably OK for knits.)  I had listened to a podcast that suggested doing this, as the machine spins so much excess moisture out of the garment.  Cotton does not felt, so it seemed like a safe thing to do.  Spread out on a double bed, this covered the mattress side to side, and three-quarters of the length.  I danced around, gently shaping it into a nice circle.  I did not pin out the points on the border because I think Carrie probably will not do so when she washes it.  Also, I did not have that many blocking pins!  It dried over -night, which I found shocking. Usually things require three to four days to dry, but using the spin cycle got so much water out that it was a quick dry.   

 Now to test the spin cycle with wool ...

In other news, I must say that I am GREATLY relieved that Joe Biden appears to have won the presidential election. I will not believe the Trump nightmare is over until the inauguration occurs, but I am beginning to have hope.  As an American living outside the borders of the US, things were looking grim.  Still are, actually.  I greatly feared I was watching the end of the US experience ... who knew there was that much bigotry hiding in the population?  Destruction of education systems, destruction of the postal service, destruction of the norms of every day life.  I am hoping that Mr. Biden will be able to bring healing and moderation.

And I am going to say “that’s  wrap” for this blog post.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

October 25, 2020

 One of my good friends reads my blog, when I take the time to post.  One would think that a pandemic would give a girl plenty of time to do so ... and to be absolutely honest, I really do not know how I lose so many hours of my life.  Yes, I understand that the silly computer games I play are a complete waste of time, and I will readily admit that I play entirely too much.  Having admitted this, however, I am also going to say that knitting and keyboarding properly are prone to the creation of carpal tunnel syndrome, so too much of those activities may not be healthy for me either!

In any event, I did spend a fair bit of time this summer out on my little sailboat.  Feeling the sun and wind on my face, listening to the swish of water past the rudder prove to be balm to a troubled soul, and this accursed pandemic has created more than a little disturbance in my soul.  I hope this winter to substitute cross-country skiing for the boat ...

I absolutely love having a wool shop to call my own (well, my half of the partnership in any event).  It turns out that there are benefits to owning said shop, as well as pitfalls.  One pitfall is that sometimes, thankfully not often, a customer will fling yarn at us that we cannot resell.  It has been wound, knit, frogged and rewound into a ball.  Of course, it is still usable ... so in the early days of lockdown I knit hats.  Ten of them.  In an effort to not enlarge my stash, I gave the remainder to Barb.  I guessed there was enough for two or three hats.  She will get to them ... some day.

Another not-so-terrible pitfall of owning a wool shop is that sales reps often give us samples of wool and yarn to work with in the hope we will fall in love.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.  The skein below is one such gift.  Sadly, I have absolutely no label and so I cannot tell you anything about it except that it is green, and wool.  It is scheduled to be one of the next ten projects I make, so any suggestions would be welcome.

Sometimes we look at yarns and fall in love with them, but are not certain that our clientele will love them the way we do.  We purchase a bag, split it between us, and plan to plan to knit something glorious, tempting the clientele as we do so, of course.  Or perhaps it is just yarn that we love.  One never knows.  Anyway, we split a bag of Pollock from Juniper Moon Farms a long time ago.  A very long time ago.  In an effort to reclaim my knitting corner, I have designated this to be in the upcoming rotation.  Again, suggestions are welcomed because at the moment I have no idea what it wants to be when it grows up.

Next are two skeins of Rylie from Hi-Koo.  A customer really, really wanted to make something with this wool.  Sadly we had disappointed her previously so we brought in a bag for her.  Not so sadly, she did not need the entire bag ... and someone’s stash grew again.  

Another day we had a customer who dropped by with donations for our charity knitters.  There was this Shirley Brian yarn that seems to have started the colour-changing craze.  It is not really suitable for the various charity projects happening, so once again my stash grew.  It did not come with a pattern, though, so I will get to play a bit with it. 

I swear the picture was not this blurry when I looked at it after taking it!  In any event, this is a skein of Louet Euroflax ... again, a gift from a sales rep.  

Have I mentioned that sometimes Barb and I just cannot help ourselves and we buy things just because they are beautiful?  This is a gradient set from Manos del Uruguay in their Alegria Grande base. Sigh.  Too beautiful to pass up.  And time for it to become something.  

I have made afghans for all of my children.  Sometimes two ...  My step-daughter is dear to my heart and well-deserving of an afghan too.  One weekend while she was visiting, I handed her an ancient McCall's Super Afghan book and asked her to choose.  She selected an aran-style afghan ... my heart just grew two sizes that day!  Took a while for the right colour yarn to arrive, but it finally has.  

Every year we do inventory at the wool shop.  Sometimes we bring treasures home with us.  This is one such treasure — Sublime Merino Lace.  I knit with this previously and loved it so I decided that it was time for this wool to find a home. 

So those are the projects that will be moving through my fingers.  No time frame as yet ... after all, I still need to do some holiday knitting.  In the process of sorting these out and filling project bags, I also turfed a couple of,projects.  Again, as the owner of a wool shop I seem to have a lot of projects that I “should” be working on.  You know what?  Life is short and uncertain, and I decided that “should” knitting is not gonna happen unless it is also something I WANT to make.

In that vein, let’s move on to my current projects!  This is an afghan that my mother started many years ago.  She is gone now, and the afghan has been residing in a corner of my room waiting.  Waiting oh so patiently.  This is something that my mother’s hands touched, something she was making for someone she loved. It has taken me some time to be ready to proceed ... I am there.  I know what row to start with, what colour, and cooler weather is approaching.  This will be something that stays at home as it is a large project already. 

One of our vendors gifted us with some balls of Brook Farm.  Cute, little balls of wool perfect for colour work.  The pattern is the Advent Cowl, available on Ravelry.  I started this last winter, before the pandemic.  Turns out that wearing a face mask changes where my glasses sit on my nose, making chart  reading interesting.  I may have found some masks that fit better so I am hoping to go back to this. 

Another long-lived project is this beautiful lace shawl.  Carrie gave me the alpaca yarn ... I have struggled with the chart as it is in a book which does not lie flat, making the magnet board difficult to use.  Being the clever girl I am, I have FINALLY had the brilliant idea of getting a copy made.  Flat page,  no binding, and a flat magnet board should make this much easier.  I could even have the chart — gasp — enlarged!

My daughter was engaged this summer to a delightful young man. we are thrilled with this development.  Of course, I instantly decided to make something special for her and that day whenever it may occur.  Having learned not to make surprise projects for her, I showed her my idea, she approved and I cast on.  I

love knitting lace ... this is a full circle shawl inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  i am having SO much fun knitting it.  Very soon I will be adding the border and able to start spreading it out.  I can hardly wait!
I think this is enough chatter.  There are still new projects in the queue, but they can wait.  After all, there is lace knitting to be done!  

Thursday, September 05, 2019

That didn’t take long!

No, that did not take long for me to fall off the wagon and skip blogging.  Turns out it is far easier to stop than it is to keep going.  In any event, it did not take nearly as long for me to climb back on the wagon as it has previously.  Thanks, Liz, for reminding me that I should get busy again!

I have been knitting.  Not so many pictures in the months gone by, but I have been busy.  With the urging to come back to the blog, comes the urging to take pictures.  To that end, LOOK AT THESE SOCKS!!!!!

These are the Turnalar Socks by Leslie Comstock.  I found this pattern in the book Sockupied from Interweave, and knew I just HAD to knit them.   The heel gusset was quite unusual in that the reductions all happened on the bottom of the sock, in the striped section.  I had never done that before, and I marvel at how nicely the sole pattern picked up at the end of the gusset.  I used Cascade Heritage in black and. Manos del Uruguay Alegria Watercolour in pink, and a 2.5mm circular.  As always, I did manage to knit a bit tighter than I should have, but sock stretchers will keep them wearable.

I also have managed to knit up 12 pair of Knitted Knockers using Cascade Ultra Pima in various colours.  The store is a drop-off site, and it seemed fitting that I should contribute to the cause.  I used up several left-over bits and bobs, which means my stash got a wee bit smaller.  Always a nice thing!

In a fit of organizational frenzy, I made a list of projects that are screaming to be started and/or finished.  There are currently eight projects.  Yes, eight.  This does not include the additional projects already kitted up,  nor does it include the projects that seem to happen during store inventory.  I find this a wee bit ... disturbing, exciting, worrisome.  Yes, all three.  Exciting to know that my knitting time is planned; worrisome that there are so many projects actinglike they need to be done NOW,

And why do I find these projects disturbing and worrisome?  Because I have taken up sailing.  I have a Sunfish-type sailboat.  it is 14-feet long, and perfect for a single-hand sailor.  I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of sailing, the sun, the winds, the waves.  I find myself geinning from esr to esr while out there.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Snowy February Days

I enjoy winter.  Really I do.  I love to go cross-country skiing.  Not that I am any good, but I do enjoy the challenge.  Except when there is too much ice and not enough snow.  My coordination is not great at the best of times, and when ice is there it is positively dreadful.  So yesterday, when the snow started, I was pleased to see snow.  Lots of snow.  Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow and not skiing.  I am hopeful that the snow will stay until the weekend, without having freezing rain added to the trails.

This is my second attempt at a blog post.  The previous one, I had done lots of work, added all the links, looked up all the patterns, and in general done what every good blogger is supposed to do.  Well, except that pesky "save" feature.  Or having an opened blog post on two different devices.  Whatever the issue was, I am here to rectify it!

This is the beginning of a gauge swatch for Genista, from Juniper Moon.  I am using the specified wool -- Findley Dappled -- and a 3.25mm needle.  I did finish the swatch, and measure, and got gauge with the specified needle.  Currently I am at row 4, just getting ready to start the lace pattern.   I expect this will be a delightful summer top, and sure to get lots of use this summer.  I don't know why they chose that yellow colour for the pattern picture; I think my colour will be far better!
Last fall, one of my ladies made a visit to Scotland.  She surprised me with a skein of Croft from West Yorkshire Spinners.  It was a very thoughtful gift, and much appreciated.  I made a hat for myself, with plenty of left-over wool. 

When the store needed a sample pair of gloves knit up for our January class, I grabbed a skein of Patons Classic Wool and jumped in.  The gloves were completed, with left-over wool, from one skein.  I had what I thought was a brilliant idea -- combine the two partial skeins (with 98g combined) and make another pair of gloves!  I had more than 2g left from the Patons, so I figured it would work. 

Because I am a belt-and-suspenders kind of girl, I did the gloves two-at-a-time.  If I ran out of wool, at least I would be at the same place on both gloves.  Clever, eh?  And, of course, I did run out.  My customers listened to me grouse and complain about having to buy a whole skein of Patons, just for two thumbs.  Whatever would I do with the remainder? 

Another of my kind customers has a talent for locating yarns.  She went to work, and found another wool shop nearby that carried Croft.  I called, and they did in fact have my colourway.  So ... last Sunday I jumped in the car and off I went.

Now, I ask you -- what are the chances that a skein of wool found in Canada would match the dye lot of a skein purchased five months ago in Scotland?  I think I've used up all my luck for 2019, because I did in fact match the dye lot.  (Please note -- I was happy to purchase an expensive, full price ball of yarn from another shop rather than the skein from my own shop!) 
Now that the gloves are finished, I am contemplating purchasing a skein of Patons Classic and combining it with the remaining Croft to make up a cowl.  Imagine this -- a hat, cowl and gloves all from the same wool!  What a concept!

The March theme for the Sock Challenge is Wendy Johnson.  Turns out that she mostly designs socks from the toes up, so it is only fitting that this picture is upside down.  (I won't bore you with the details of why this happened, but it is typical Carol, and also explains why the original post disappeared!)   I had the book so I decided upon the Diamond Gansey Socks, grabbed a skein of Berroco Comfort Sock and my needles and was off to the races!
This sock challenge has been loads of fun to watch.  The customers at the store have really embraced the challenge!

Friends of ours had a baby last January.  Yes, last January.  I kept thinking that I would "get to it" and knit a baby gift.  Sadly, that did not happen.  Until now.  This is the Finn Sweater, from Martin Storey.  I used three skeins of Ultra Pima, 3.75mm needles and had lots of fun.  What a delightful little garment, even with all the seed stitch.

The last project I have been working on is the Mystic Midsummer Wreath by Anna Dalvi.  I am using a skein of luscious handpaint alpaca which my daughter gifted me for Mother's Day.  I had been waiting for the right project ... this is actually my second attempt at a pattern but I am far happier with this one than my original choice.  And, sadly, this is my second attempt at the pattern.  Row 15 really warped my brain, dropped stitches, and general confusion meant that I started over.  Lace does't look like much pre-blocking, so I didn't try very hard for a good picture.  Hopefully next week there will be more to show ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Due dates, do-overs

So last Monday I was supposed to post a weekly update.  I did not get to it. "Why?" you ask.  It turns out that an e-book was due back in the library, soon to disappear from my I-Pad, and I really wanted to get it finished.  The Sphere by Michael Crichton    I enjoyed the book, right up to the last four paragraphs.  Really?  I spent my day off for THAT ending?  Yes, yes I did.  I was disappointed, to say the least.  Because this was an e-book and not an audio book, I lost a lot of knitting time!

Remember the cowl I was working on a while ago?  No, of course you would not, because it happened during the time of not blogging.  So anyway, I was working on a cabled cowl for a class sample, using the pattern from Paton's Next Steps Six.  The wool was Ella Rae Cozy Alpaca, a delightful and squishy alpaca and acrylic blend.  I have been having difficulties relating to stress with reading comprehension, and I totally messed up the directions.  I made one panel, and then made a second, identical panel and seamed the sides together to make a cowl.  What the pattern REALLY said was to make one panel, 24" long, and then seam the cast-on and cast-off ends together.  Right in class, I started to unpick the seams I had made so that I could do the cowl correctly.  Our students seem to find it reassuring when I goof up and have to redo things.  Now that the redo has been completed, it looks like this:

which is actually a lot like it looked in the beginning.  Oh well. I know that it has been done correctly.

I have also finished knitting my Water Cycle Socks, which defined the Sock Challenge for February at the store.  I just decided to make them because I liked the different lace patterns and the heel feature.  I didn't read the story about their design.  When one of my ladies mentioned it, I re-read the pattern page and ... how cool.

I really LOVE these socks.  Of course, now that I have finished my socks for February, I have to wait until the 20th to find out the theme for March.

The Newsom cardigan has been finished, but not yet blocked.  My blocking space has been occupied by an abundance of paperwork waiting to be processed.   I used 3.25 skeins of James Brett Innocence in a pale lavender.

The knitting of this little cardigan was actually quite fun.  The construction starts at the centre back, with garter stitch panels stretching around to the front and stocking stitch for the back.  Sleeves are knitted separately and then joined as you finish the yoke and fronts in garter stitch.  I can heartily recommend the pattern, and unless something dreadful happens in the blocking, will also be able to do the same for the yarn.

The last project of which I will speak is my Ebba, being knit in Berroco Aero, colourway no. 8019.  This is a very fluffy and light alpaca/nylon/wool blend yarn, and it is working up beautifully.  You can see how close I am to done --

and this is with only a week of working on it.  Of course, the 10mm needles help move things along quickly.

In other news, our Pixel has had an interesting 10 days.  Last Friday he didn't demand outside time, which is strange for him.  Doug brushed him Friday night and everything seemed normal.  Saturday morning when I got up, he had endured an abscess which had ruptured overnight.  A trip to the 24-hour vet, a wound cleaning (under very loud protest) and an antibiotic needle, and he came home to recuperate.  He started to feel better almost immediately, and often inquired if we would let him outside.  Not with an open wound, thank you very much, and he was pretty darn good about it all.  Wrangy from boredom, but not demanding to be let outside.  We have been dragging a string for him, throwing a furry ball, playing pounce on the covers, etc., but he is B-O-R-E-D.  Today he asked, and I let him out.  He came back about 40 minutes later, none the worse for wear.  Of course he wanted to be a swinging door kitty, and I have put the kibosh on that idea.  So now he is sleeping the day away, waiting for Doug to come home and play.

And that is the story of my last two weeks.  Now I am off to my knitting corner to listen to an audio book and knit!  On my day off!  Yippee!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I bet you thought I forgot!

I did not.  It's just that Monday was a busy day.  We met with a sales representative at the shop, looking at spring yarns.  Yummy linen and a great bamboo/acrylic are lined up for arrival in the spring.  Which really is not that far away, now that I think about.

This week I finished the knitting on a very pretty shawl -- Passe-partout.  I used a new wool called Whirligig from Cascade and 4.5mm needles.  This is a superwash merino-acrylic blend and it is delightful and squishy and nice to work with.  Of course, this is a store sample but I WILL be wearing it next winter!

We have been teaching a class in knitting gloves at the store.  I cannot believe how easy gloves are, and how assiduously I avoided them for years and years.  This is my second pair, and I have figured out the pattern and how to make official left- and right-handed gloves.  I feel so accomplished!  This time I am using Painted Desert.   There should be enough wool to make the complete pair, with some left over even.  The pattern asks for 3.75mm for the cuff and 4.0mm for the hand, and I am complying since the gloves are fitting nicely at this point.

Another little beauty in my knitting bag is the Newsom by Bristol Ivey.  I am using James Brett Innocence, a lovely bamboo/acrylic blend.  The pattern suggested a 3.75mm needle, but to get gauge I had to drop down to a 3.25mm needle.  I like the fabric I am getting with these needles and I am really looking forward to the finished product.  I have about 20 rows of yoke, and then three inches of collar to work, in garter stitch.  I think this might just be movie knitting!

The last item currently in my knitting bag is a pair of socks, as always.  This time I am using Alegria from Manos del Uruguay and the pattern is Water Cycle Socks.  The first sock was finished in time for the theme announcement at the shop for our Sock Challenge on January 20th.  The second sock was cast on, immediately.  It has languished however, since officially I am not supposed to be working on it until February. 

I selected these socks because I liked the lace patterns used in the design.  One of the store customers came in and mentioned the story behind the socks.  Eh?  I went back to look at the pattern page, and sure enough.  This sock does in fact represent the cycle of water -- clouds at the top, rain falling down along the front, waves at the toe and heel, and water vapour up the back of the leg.  How cool is that?  

I also have a shawl on the needles, called the Mystic Midsummer Wreath.  Sadly, this little beauty has  not gotten much love lately, as it felt like the store shawl and the socks were a priority at the time.  Now that they are finished or half-finished, I can devote my evenings to this one again.  

We have had snow over the last couple of days, and lots of very cold temperatures.  The snow would be perfect for skiing, if not for the stupid cold and the myriad of chores that MUST BE DONE at home.  Sometimes this being a grown-up just is not fun!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra! To put it succinctly.  The lunar eclipse was last night, and it was impressive.  Everyone else went outside to look at, but I wimped right out. Even put on my night shirt just to make it abundantly clear that I was not venturing forth.

Carrie, her young man, and Emily came up for an over-night visit, and to celebrate a couple of birthdays and Christmas.  As always, the visit was filled with a fair bit of comings and goings, confusion, laughter, adult beverages, and good food.  Doug made ice cream to go along with our favorite coffee cake, plus he purchased blueberries and raspberries.  Yum, yum.

My darling daughter knows me very well.  for my birthday, she gave me —
The chocolate needs no explanation.  Just note that it is upstairs, in my knitting corner.  The wool is Lizzie-Anne mini-skein set in the Soft Sock base.  The colour way does not have an official name.  I am not sure what it will grow up to be, possibly a shawl of some sort combined with a solid for emphasis.  In any event, I will have fun browsing Ravelry for ideas.

We also celebrated Christmas.  I know — that holiday was last month.  this was the first weekend that we were able,to get together with both young ladies, and so we waited until now for presents.  Again, my daughter knows me well.   This is from The Blue Brick, Killarney sock, in a colourway named Eggshell. This will probably grow up to be socks, but one never knows!
I knitted on my gloves over the weekend, and finished one glove.  I also cast on the second glove and started the ribbing.  (I am using Paton's Next Steps 7 for the pattern.)  We were watching a delightful little movie called Danny Deckchair, and the glove was perfectly mindless.  If you get the opportunity, I strongly recommend this little gem.

Newsom is coming along delightfully, although you can't really tell that it's a sweater from this picture.  I have joined the sleeves and am now finishing up the yoke.  I am really impressed with this James Brett Innocence.  So far, I have used only three balls of yarn, and I might just get the entire sweater finished without breaking into the fourth.  Very nice feel to the fabric, economical.  If it washes up nicely, I'd say this one is a real winner.
And then we got a box of new wool from one of our distributors.  Cascade Yarns Whirligig, which is an 80% superwash merino/20% acrylic.  I adore the feel of this yarn in the ball -- it's squishy and soft.  Of course, I started something brand new -- after all, I had cold, empty needles!  This is Passe-Partout, designed by Maanel and found on Ravelry.  Easy to read and execute pattern, wonderful wool.  Cannot go wrong.  And we have four colours ...