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 ... 


Monday, January 14, 2019

Week 2 -- Still on Track!


Still making a blog entry from the I-Pad, because the computer and I were having words.  Well, not so much words as me growling at the computer, and it just sitting there like it had done nothing wrong.  The thing is that the pictures are here on the tablet, but typing in text and making links that actually work is so much easier with a keyboard and mouse.  Not to mention the display issues I have with the tablet.

In any event, I have been knitting.  I am test knitting with a yarn that we may be bringing in to the store for spring.  It is a bamboo and acrylic blend in a DK weight.  The pattern is Newsom, and I am using a 3.25mm needle.  The back is done to the armholes, and sleeves are the next step.  I was tickled to find not one, but TWO additional needles of the right size in my needle collection.  This means I can charge ahead without needing stitch holders, etc. And for the record, I have not even consumed one full ball of yarn yet!  Definitely a contender yarn.

 

We are teaching a class in knitting gloves at the store.  Since it is officially my class to lead, I started a pair of gloves to accompany the class and demonstrate techniques.  I am using KFI Painted Sky and 3.75 and 4.0mm needles, as specified in the pattern.  


Writing patterns  is hard work, as we discovered when we did the calendar at the store.  So I probably should cut Patons some slack, but I did. Ot find their pattern to be easily followed.  The first time through I threw up my hands and purposefully made a change so that I could understand what was happening.  The second time through with a customer, we did the same thing.  The third time through with another customer, the directions became clear.  The clouds parted, sunshine poured down, angels sang.  Well, not quite, but my current gloves will have a definite right AND left, as the pattern writer envisioned!  Yay, me.


Several months ago, I was visiting my grandson.  He asked me why I always knit.  The answer I gave was that I liked to knit for the people I love.  Fair enough, but it felt incomplete.  Listening to a 
podcast by PrairiePiper (see, this is where the link would be, but you can look her up on Ravelry), and she made the connection for me.  Years from now, when the grandson looks at pictures of his youth, he will see sweaters and things that I knit for him, and KNOW that I love(d) him.

So when he gave me a sweater request — zipper, hood, pockets AND colours of the rainbow — what could I do?  You guessed it.  The yarn is Patons Canadiana and the pattern is modified from Cabin Fever Hoodies and Pullovers.  Cabin Fever wrote the pattern to be a henley-style pullover.  I simply did not join in the round, and did some math to get the pockets knit.



My son says he wore the sweater out to a coffee shop and a birthday party, where there were many compliments received.  The grandson was telling everyone that his Mama Carol had made the sweater, and that she makes the best sweaters.  Definitely worth the angst of knitting, modifying, and sweating over whether zipper insertion could be acquired.  (I took the sweater around the corner to an alterations place and had the zipper inserted.  They did a magnificent job.)

Finally, I show you the progress on my Mystery Sock.  This is the announcement of the February theme, which is NOT toe-up, nor blue.  I am using Manos del Uruguay Alegria, and it is a wonderful yarn with which to knit.
The sock is coming along nicely, although I must admit it was my second choice of a sock.  The first just didn't work, and rather than continue fighting I switched patterns. 

You may have noticed that there are now links.  The computer and I have made friendly and everything seems to be coming together.  Getting used to blogging again is a challenge, but one I can and will conquer.  In the meantime, I have pork chops (with peaches, tomato sauce and spices) simmering in the slow cooker.  It smells divine, and I can only hope it will taste as good as it smells! 

Off to do some more knitting!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Resolution — Week 1 is good

Not that I am a big fan of New Year Resolutions, but I did make one.  I promised myself I would do a blog post once a week, just to document my life.  So to speak.

This past week, I went ice skating.  Conditions on the lake were good overall, and our neighbour had a rink cleared.  Off we went, along with the buddies my grandson selected for Doug and I.  Here they are, having an ice skating adventure!
A good time was had over all, but I did manage a belly flop onto the ice.  Bruised my knees and
elbows, but not too badly.  What really hurt is the ribs.  I did not go to the doctor or emergency room
...  they don’t do much for bruises or even cracked ribs.  They do hurt, a week later.  A heated rice bag has become my new bedtime routine.  The doctor says “Use it or lose it — stay active.”  I am pretty certain she did not mean to include the belly flop!

I have been busy knitting.  My ribbed socks for the 2019 Sock Challenge are progressing well.  i have one sock done and am close to the heel flap on the second.  The wool is Funny Feet from James C. Brett, and is new to the shop.  I am really enjoying this wool, and I think it will do very well for us. 


I also knit up a sample for the shop, using Diamond Luxury Baby Alpaca Sport.  The pattern is Winter Butterfly Cowl by Gretchen Ronnevik.  I followed the pattern, except I ended at the halfway point of the fourth pattern repeat.  I was worried about running out of yarn, and I wanted to have a couple of rows of stockinette before the ribbing.  All in all, I am pleased with this project as well. 



Remember those little mittens from last week?  The yarn seemed to be never-ending in a good way.  I finished a hat 


AND another pair of mittens for an adult.  



I have not gotten as far as finishing the swatches for the two projects I mentioned last week.  why?  I get to select the theme for February for the Sock Challenge.  So many options, so little time.  I only get to pick one theme after all.  

Today has been my day off, and I have a beef stew simmering away in the slow cooker.  It smells divine, if you are a carnivore.  I think I will make some muffins to go with it.  Sounds like a perfect meal for a snowy, freezing rain kind of evening, wouldn’t you say?

For the record, this post has been worked using an I-Pad.  Not a pleasant experience, in the slightest.  

Monday, December 31, 2018

Whew.  It is more than a little dusty in here.   So let’s select a new theme (hopefully done!) and get back to blogging.

Since my last blog post years ago, life has (obviously) continued.  I will not bore you with details.  let’s just make a note that life has been interesting in a Chinese sort of way.

In the lapse of blogging, I have discovered a few things.  This blog serves the purpose of documenting my cross-border trips.  This is necessary for the completion of the renewal of my permanent resident card as well as the impending citizenship application.  After almost 19 years, it feels like it is definitely time.

The second purpose of the blog?  It helps me remember what I have kmit, and for whom.  While packing up my Christmas gifts, I discovered one project that I really did NOT recall knitting.  I did, because I used the remainders to create a second pair of socks.  I had been keeping a list of completed projects, but it just isn’t the same without pictures.

So, here we go!

On needles at the moment is a beautiful shawl, designed by Anna Dalvi and contained in her book Mystic Shawls.  The wool is AbiGood, a baby alpaca hand-paint from Scotsburn, Nova Scotia.  This is a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter, who has EXCELLENT taste!  Admittedly, this is not a good picture, and there is a long way to go, but I AM loving both the wool and the design.

I have decided that I will endeavor to use up my half-skein leftovers instead of tossing them into the corner.  To that end, I have finished off some baby hats and almost one pair of mittens.  The hats are Louisa Harding Amitola Grande, and I must say I love this wool. It is a wool/silk blend, and is delightful to work with.  The mittens are Cascade Eco Plus Peruvian Tones, another really super nice wool.  
I used the Maine Baby Hatpattern for the hats, and it is a gem.  Well-written and easy to follow.  The mittens used the World’s Simplest Mittens from Tin Can Knits, and it is also a great pattern. 

Soon I will be knitting Newsome by Bristol Ivey using Innocence from James Brett.  It is still in the swatching stage, as is Ebba by Drops Designs. 

And, as usual, I have a pair of socks going. 

Whew.  That was a lot.  Before I go, however, I need to show you what happened on Christmas Day—