Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adventures in Steeking--part 1

Barb, my intrepid knitter friend, accompanied me to the Knitter's Fair last year. Where she fell in love with a Philosopher's Wool sweater kit. Silly me--I thought she knew that Philosopher's Wool always steeked their sweaters. Unfortunately, she was not aware of this. Bravely, she soldiered on.

The sweater was a gift for her mom's birthday. She started knitting in January, hoping that she'd be done in time. Gauge was spot on so the sleeves went off without a hitch. The body of the sweater, being a trifle larger than the sleeves, took longer. Being fair isle, it was also heavier than a "normal" sweater, which Barb found to be a pain in her arms and elbows. The birthday came and went, but Barb persevered.

This past week, she achieved completion of the knitting. NOW, it was time to steek. Being the brave person she is, Barb brought the sweater in for an afternoon knitting group to demonstrate. Here you see her explaining the process.
At this point, the machine stitching for the bands, neckline and sleeves has been done and the button and buttonhole bands are attached and knitted. Barb measured twice, took a deep breath and started.

At this point in the process, her hands are rock steady. Her voice hasn't really cracked once. She gives the appearance of being totally cool, calm and collected. Unlike the audience.
Once the sleeve holes are steeked, the shoulder seams can be inserted. Barb has chosen to use a 3-needle-bind-off technique to give the shoulders extra stability. Then she picks up the stitches for the collar and knits away merrily.
Doesn't she look pleased? And relieved? Stay tuned--we'll have photos of the finishing touches--cutting out the neckline area, separating the two fronts and the sleeves fully inserted. And the finished sweater on the model! Yippee!

Barb's only comment at the end of Wednesday? "I'm so not doing this again!"

One thing I've learned in life is "Never say never." We'll see if Barb holds to this statement.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good news -- they're finished!

It's been a busy week for me and mine. Carrie is back in school, Improv is practicing, and Sobey's is booking plenty of hours for the daughter. With the price of gasoline these days, instead of heading home after work, I just hang out at the store and ... knit. (You expected something else? Silly people!) The extra couple of hours each week means that I am finishing up some projects that have been ... languishing ... while I tried to work up some enthusiasm for them again.

I brought in all the colours of Twilley's Freedom Spirit this year. Last year there were a select few colours, and they were extremely well received. So this year I decided to splurge. And once they were here, I needed a sample. Really, I did. (Not convinced? You are a tough crowd!)

This is the Hooded Jacket (leaflet #9058) from Tilley's, knit in colour no. 507 (Essence). It required 10 balls to make the 32" bust, which is exactly what the pattern specified. I have just enough left to sew the buttons on, as soon as I get them. Button shopping will hopefully take place in the upcoming weekend.

In August we taught a class here in the shop making cardigans from Patons Upside-Downers (#718). For my class project, I decided to make a small cardigan using Araucania Nature Wool (2 skeins). Not too far into the project I decided that I should make this as a gift for my little nephew, Sammy. Planning ahead for the holidays and all, doncha know?

The buttons are Incomparable Buttons. I've just gotten them into the shop this fall, and I'm so excited to be able to offer them. The buttons are Fair Trade, and 100% hand-crafted in South Africa. Want a closer look? Here you go:

I hope that Sammy and my sister both love them as much as I do, and the sweater as well. The upside down raglan is a nice touch -- the only seaming on the entire sweater is when you attach the button band to the body of the sweater. Nice touch, that.

And, finally, I bring you a photo of my little kitty Lizzie. She much prefers to work with alpaca, but in a pinch, Canadiana will do.

Currently in the project bag -- Great American Aran Afghan (9 of 24 squares completed) using Patons Canadiana; Charm from Classic Style/RYC (ready to knit on the button bands and collar); basic sock using Kureyon sock yarn; and a generic Feather & Fan pattern stole using Misti International hand paind Baby SuriSilk in colour 08 Manhattan Rose. (Ooo-la-la. This stuff is fabulous!)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Retail Therapy

Remember way back when Carrie and I went to the Stitch 'n Pitch game? And I promised you some retail therapy results? Well, today I am finally going to show you what we did way back in August.

One excuse for attending the Stitch 'n Pitch is to see what the sponsors are offering. This year if you brought in your ticket stub before the end of August, you would receive a 15% discount at the participating shops.

Carrie and I had doctor's appointments in Toronto for the day after the game, so we drove in and spent the morning chatting with the doc. In order that the drive to Toronto would not be wasteful in that only one errand was accomplished, we decided to visit some of the sponsors on our way home. We chose our shops based upon the location -- they had to be easy to find since my Toronto maps are currently living in my son's car -- in Michigan!

We started with the Knitter's Attic in Richmond Hill. They are on Yonge Street, the longest street in North America. Even I -- directionless Carol -- should be able to find Yonge Street. Especially if I can have two tries at it. (Who knew there would be a Yonge Avenue in Toronto? What's this with re-using names anyway?!) This is a delightful shop, filled to the brim with delectable yarns and goodies. They carry many of the same lines that I do -- but wait, there's more! Lot's more. Carrie and I had a wonderful time browsing and browsing.

Of course, one can't browse forever. I found some Noro Silk Garden Lite to come home with me, along with this pattern book. I am hoping that the 3 balls of Noro will be enough to make something -- anything. There is no specific project in mind for it. Any suggestions?

Turns out that I am a sucker for patterns for babies, especially those published by Mandarin. They knit up beautifully in Sirdar Snuggly .

We continued up Yonge Street until we found Needles & Knits in Aurora. Another very nice shop, rooms filled with wool. They also have a shop cat -- of course I forget the name, but a gorgeous kitty. Probably part Maine Coone, and extremely friendly. He likes to hang out in the back room where the sale yarn is stored. Guess what Carrie found in the sale room?

This is a Phildar yarn called Giboulees. (Sorry, I can't find an on-line link to any info. on this yarn.) Carrie saw it and immediately thought of her friend in Michigan. I did too, actually, so the yarn had to come home with us. Carrie is hoping this will be a Christmas gift ...

Finally, we ventured up to New Market to Serenity Knits. I'd been warned about this shop. They carry alot of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden wools. And we all know that I'm a sucker for Handmaiden. (Carrie had strict instructions at this point--if she saw me approaching the check-out with an armfull of wool, she was to immediately throw a body block and drag me kicking and screaming from the store. Fortunately, this was not necessary.)

We browsed and browsed. And browsed some more. Finally, I decided to bring this little baby home with me:
Handmaiden Casbah. After all, it isSOCK yarn for goodness sake. We all know that I have this ... this THING for sock yarn. And Handmaiden. Combined. How could I resist? (sob--there were more skeins there waiting to be adopted!) I have fondled the yarn extensively. It's not quite ready to grow up and be knit though. Soon.

My intrepid knitter friend Barb? Save your lunch money and we'll take a road trip. It's DEFINITELY worth it.