Friday, December 04, 2009

THAT was a quick month!

Foolish me, I thought (although perhaps hoped is more accurate) that life would slow down a wee bit with the daughter off at university. After all, SHE was the one who had get-togethers with friends, shopping trips, work, and parties to attend, all of which required my car. Seemed like she or we were constantly running the roads, trying to keep pace with everything.

She's been off to the University of Toronto since the beginning of September. Three entire months. Has life slowed down? Nope. Not a bit. So who can I blame now? Methinks the answer is myself. The jury is still out on that one.

I note that it has been an entire month since last I posted anything. Works in progress or finished objects. Unless someone can assist me, I believe I have here the sum entirety of my completed items:

This hat is made with Naturally Loyal (colour 916) and the brim is Sirdar Frenzy (discontinued). Lots of fun making this up, and the Frenzy was surprisingly fun to knit with. (I dislike working with doubled strands of fun fur--it's hard to see your stitches. The Frenzy was thick enough that I could use it just by itself with larger needles.) This hat is destined for my elder brother, to be his January hat. I hope it makes him smile. And any of my brothers and sisters who see this? Shh. Don't say a word.

Last weekend was the American Thanksgiving weekend. Doug and I took the opportunity to run over to Michigan for a wee visit. Also, we ate some turkey and dressing. (Barb ran the store -- thanks a million!) Of course, driving to Michigan entails some 6.5 hours in the car on the way there, and the same back. Lots of hours of knitting, if one plans well.

I had heard lots about the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket (scroll down, please). When a friend loaned me the pattern, I grabbed a ball of yarn and ran with it.

Until the very end when I put in the buttonholes, I really didn't understand how this was going to become a baby jacket. Seriously. I'd work on it a bit, look at it, scratch my head. Lather, rinse, repeat. Finally the light dawned ... and I was finished. Just that quickly. Amazing.

The yarn used was James Brett Baby Marble (Lime Sherbet). One ball. I'm pondering bringing this yarn into the shop, if I can find a place on the shelves. 100% acrylic, which many people like for babies.

Back to the Thanksgiving weekend -- we were able to visit with all of the Michigan siblings (three brothers, a sister, and assorted spouses) as well as my dad and step-mother. A very nice time was had by all. Brother David was having stem cells harvested this week, with the goal of infusion during January. We're hoping and praying that the time lines continues as set. If so, David should be in pretty good form for the (brief) Michigan summer and his motorcycle.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last gasp of summer

I know that I've mentioned that Doug and I go mountain bike riding. Fairly regularly during the summer, in fact. When the cool, crisp air of fall arrives I generally park my bike. My ears get too darned cold, and they hurt. I have a pattern for some ear-warmers that fasten right to the straps of my bicycle helmet, but I just haven't gotten around to it. When the warm weather hit last weekend, Doug and I jumped at the chance for one last ride. We now have photographic proof that I hit the trails late in October!
Fall riding is quite a bit different than summer riding. The fallen leaves really obscure the trail, and they are slippery as well. Fall riding is slower, which helps to keep the ears a bit warmer. I shouldn't complain, I know. But I do like the summer "bat out of hell" mentality where you can go lickety-split, fast-as-you-can down the hills. Someday that attitude is gonna get me, and it will be painful. Til then ... I'll just be kind of careful.

In other (knitting) news, I've finished yet another pair of socks. These were worked in Super Soxx, purchased at the Knitter's Frolic several years ago. Nice to see that I'm getting thru the sock yarn stash, eh?
Another "finished" object of which I am quite proud is this:
This is the Patt Tanton Hewitt square from the Great American Aran Afghan square, knit in Patons Canadiana Oatmeal. This square was really difficult -- more so than the Selesnick square from several months ago. If ever I knit this afghan again, I suspect this will be one square that does not get repeated.

Currently on needles and being actively knit is this delightful project from S.R. Kertzer:
This raglan lace tee is knit in On Your Toes Bamboo. Who knew that knitting garments with sock yarn would be so delightful? I admit that the 3.25mm needles makes progress a bit slow. With yarn as scrumptious as the bamboo, though, does it matter?!

I am also knitting a sweater for Doug. This is Sublime Organic Merino, colour no. 114, and the "Garter Rib V-Neck" from the September 2009 Creative Knitting.
The sleeves are finished, and I am within 2.5" of the shoulder shaping on the back. Admittedly the pattern calls for a knitting worsted weight and the Sublime is a DK ... Barb (my knitting buddy) and I have felt that the Sublime was actually a knitting worsted, and this sweater helps to prove it.

Of course, I can say that now. Once the sweater is done we shall see if it fits Doug. If yes, then we are correct and the yarn can be used as a worsted; if not ... well, the ball band is right after all. I *think* I have the gauge correct.

Finally, check out the updated web page for the shop: Never Enough Wool. Doug has done lots of work on it, and I am quite pleased. The one thing we are still missing is a gallery of customer finished items.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I am so boring!

Time has a habit of marching on, and on, and on. I knit, and I knit, and I knit, and then I forget to post photos of the finished items. In an effort to rectify this, I bring you yet another pair of socks:

These are destined to appear in someone's stocking on Christmas morning, but I'm not going to say whose. Notice that the toes do not appear pointed, nor are they finished with a 3-needle bind-off. Yes, folks, I have FINALLY learned the kitchener stitch! Yippee! And I finished these socks off a bit differently than normal. Instead of decreasing down to 8 stitches in total and then grafting, I started the decreases later in the foot area and decreased down to 28 stitches. Makes for a less pointed toe, and I believe a nicer look.

The yarn was purchased several years ago at the Knitter's Frolic, and is from Lana Grossa. As this was deeply discounted, I suspect it has been discontinued.

The gift exchange in which I participated has concluded and my exchange partner has received her gift. Consequently, I am able to show yet another pair of socks:

Altho not quite as boring as my plain-jane holiday socks, these are socks. Notice that the toes are more pointed than the first photo. These socks required a short-row toe and heel, and confirmed to me that I really don't enjoy doing this type of toe or heel. Give me a good heel flap any day. These socks were knit with Knit Picks wool ... discontinued.

I'm really beginning to sense a theme here. Why is it that as soon as I start knitting with a yarn/colour combination, it gets discontinued? From the last post, two of the projects are in a discontinued yarn, and two (so far) today. A girl could get paranoid ...

This past summer, I found some Debbie Bliss Cotton/Angora yarn in my stash, and a pattern called the Rusted Root from Zephyr. With a few tweaks, the yarn worked with the pattern, and I made this:
The pattern calls for a double-knitting weight yarn, and the Debbie Bliss yarn was really a worsted weight. I used the appropriate size needles for the yarn and made the small size. The result is a very, very nice sweater for me. I'm not accustomed to wearing such tight-fitting clothes, but everyone tells me that it fits beautifully. (I would, of course, expect Doug to like the close fit, so the fact that so many other folks also like it comforts me!) Again, the Debbie Bliss yarn has been discontinued.

While perusing the fall knitting magazines, I noticed that Elsebeth Lavold had a new book out. I immediately browsed my supplier's website and look what I found:
Not one, but two -- count 'em -- TWO new books! Elsebeth Lavold is one of my favorite designers. I love cables, and she has figured out how to incorporate cables into her designs without making the cables overpower the wearer. I especially enjoy The ThirdViking Knits Collection. My general rule of thumb is that if I find enough patterns in a book to bring the per pattern cost down to around $7 per pattern, I can buy it. At $27, this book needed only four designs to pique my interest.

That wasn't hard to do. In fact, I've sold three copies of this book in the store already ... and have folks still drooling -- er -- looking at it.

In fact, I liked one of the designs in this book enough that I am planning a knit-along for January:
(Better picture here) This design is called "Inggun" is made from a worsted weight yarn; if we can finish it off for March, would be a reasonable transition piece for winter to spring. Select your yarn now and get your needles cleared! I can't wait! (Hmm. Would it be cheating to start early so that I can "teach" this project? Should I trouble-shoot this design? Wanders off to fondle some wool ...)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Takin' care of business!

Doug brought me some new batteries for my camera so that I could start taking pictures again. It's been a while, and I can tell this by looking at the blog and seeing the number of projects that I've finished and with no posted pictures.

First up, I bring you the Botanical Cardigan from Vogue Summer 2009. (The new batteries make for an extra-strong flash, as evidenced by my closed eyes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

The way the front fits makes anyone seem curvy. It's really flattering.

The back fits nicely too. I had toyed with the idea of not making the little bobble thingy in the centre of the back. However, that makes the back kind of saggy, which is NOT the intent. Turns out the bobble is generally higher than the back of a chair anyway, so the "bump" is not a factor.

I used 4 skeins of Misti Alpaca Cotton & Silk (worsted weight), in colour no. 3814. Actually, I used 3 and a half balls ... Truthfully, I could've/should've done a few more repeats of the border motif. A little extra length there would have been nice, but I was just SO DONE with the pattern. Helpful hints to anyone else who is making this -- don't be skimpy on the border! Also, there is errata on the Vogue Knitting website, so be certain to check that out as well.

At the Knitters & Weavers Fair in Waterloo (on September 12th) I saw the same cardigan with added sleeves. The knitter had used the same three-strand braid around the bottom of the sleeves as well. Nice touch that, but I'm really happy with my sleeveless version. Would I do it again? Oh yeah. The centre part is a blast. The outer ring probably would've been perfect car knitting, had I had a road trip planned at the time.

Another quick little project I've finished recently is this hat, destined for my brother David.

I used two balls of fun fur and one ball of Patons SWS, colour no. 70605(apparently discontinued). Two strands of fun fur for the ribbing (2"), then 2" more of ribbing in the Patons, switch to stockinette and away you go. This bright hat certainly cheered me up when it was in the store, and I am hoping it will cheer up my brother as well.

Over at Delphi Knit & Chat, we have just finished up a gift exchange. My secret pal was in Michigan (hi Kendra!), and she sent me some yummy candy and this lovely scarf. Cables and a wee bit of lace in between, and four sparkly buttons! The buttons instantly made me think of my mother, who had used similar buttons on a sweater for me years and years ago. Smiles!

The Milk Duds are gone, and the Good & Fruity are on the endangered list! Thanks, Kendra, for the package, Sandi for hostessing the exchange, and Carol Ann for hosting the forum!

Finally, a project which had been on my list for ages and ages, and which I am happy to report is finished. Well, almost finished. I worked 20 rows of garter stitch at the beginning of the blanket, so I must add 10 more rows of garter stitch to the end. All in good time. In the meanwhile, I get to claim it is "finished!"

This is a mock-cable pattern, worked in knits and purls only, and which gives the appearance of being cabled. A nice easy pattern, generously sized for a baby blanket, and made in Patons Canadiana, colour no. 138 (also discontinued).

Apparently, my making a store sample out of a colour guarantees it being discontinued.

More finished projects, more photos, more news, all in the upcoming weeks. I can only post five pictures at a time!

Also, David has had his first chemo treatment. It really knocked him for a loop and he is still feeling rather punky, but that is to be expected. For those of you who are keeping him in your thoughts and prayers, thank you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Thursday

Wow. That was a long radio silence. These last few weeks have been ... interesting ... in the Chinese proverb sense would be the easiest way to describe them.

The first biggest piece of news, and not good news, is that my elder brother has been diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma. This is a non-Hodgkins type and treatment is a real *itch. The last month has been spent waiting for e-mails with more news, worrying and praying for him. He has started treatment, as of yesterday afternoon, so we are all hoping that the newer treatments will result in a remission ... a very long remission. He has 6 rounds of chemo (parts A and B, thank you very much), followed by a bone marrow transplant. The doctors are hoping that he'll be able to transplant his own bone marrow (I know, that sounds so wrong, but it's the way these things are done) and achieve remission. Failing that, or sometime way down the road, they will be looking at his siblings, our father, and his daughter for a second transplant option. I now have a very impressive envelope with the necessary information. Living in Canada, however, I'm not real sure how the requisition will work with my local labs. Doug and I are contemplating a quick trip to Michigan (possibly staying overnight with Phyllis!) to have the blood drawn. Apparently there are places where you can register as a bone marrow donor; I encourage everyone to think about registering. The life you save might be -- yours, or my brother's!

I have finished the Botanical Medallion Cardigan from the summer Vogue. Unfortunately, I don't have photos yet. Something about dead/dying batteries in my camera, wrong clothing to model it, and a general failure to be my customary smiling self. Promise, though, that I'll get to it. Quickly.

I've also finished a hat which I'll be sending to my brother. Again, same problem with pictures, but I'll get one before I send it off. It is guaranteed to bring a smile to his face, which is the goal. There will be many more "chemo" hats sent to him. I really don't expect that he'll wear many of them, if any. What I'm hoping to do is to make him smile, or even laugh outloud. Laughter is the best medicine, and since I'm not local to him bringing a smile or a laugh from afar is the best I can do right now.

I've also finished an exchange gift for a secret buddy from Knit & Chat. Once again, problems with getting a photo, and even getting it mailed out. I still need to get a sweet treat to tuck in the envelope. Unfortunately, the really nice candy store in town here keeps the same hours I do. Makes it tough to get over there, ya know?

Carrie is off at University and enjoying herself immensely. The work is hard, and the schedule is far more intense than in high school. The good news, however, is that she feels really comfortable and "at home," which means that she'll do fine. She will be coming home next weekend to wrap up the details resulting from the fender bender in July; I'm looking forward to having her around, even for such a short time.

Speaking of the fender bender, the car is now repaired! Yippee! Now to start working that darn deductible back down -- I didn't know it, but my insurance company gave me a $50 reduction in collision deductibles for every policy period (annual) that there was no claim. We were down to $200 deductible when Carrie had her little accident. Hmm. Increase in rates AND a higher deductible. No one ever said having teens was going to be easy.

I'll try not to be so quiet in the future, and to get some batteries for my camera. Til then!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Carrie does coffee

Remember a couple of posts back when I fell over in shock that Carrie was All Grown Up? Go ahead and look -- there are some stunning pictures of here there in her prom dress. June 29th was the prom -- a whole month and a bit ago.

Turns out that there is something else that means she's grown up. She does coffee now.

Well, sort of. You see, Carrie and coffee looks something like this:

Carrie sits at breakfast table with half bowl of Fruit Loops, almost snoring. When told that there is coffee, she sits up and her eyes open. She'll have to fix her coffee herself though, since only she knows how to make it correctly. That's OK -- she can do this.

Step one: Place three heaping teaspoons of hot chocolate mix in bottom of large travel mug.
Step two: Pour coffee, leaving 3/4" headspace in mug.
Step three: Stir vigorously, being careful not to spill.
Step four: Taste.
Step five: Add two more heaping teaspoons of hot chocolate mix, and stir.
Step six: Discover the last teaspoon of chocolate mix is stuck to spoon.
Step seven: Shoot patented "glare of death" look at mom, who is laughing.
Step eight: Shoot "death star laser beam of death" look at mom, who is now rolling on floor.
Step nine: Add milk and stir gently.
Step ten: Taste. Pronounce perfection.
Step eleven: Discover that lid of travel mug will not fit onto mug with this much beverage.
Step twelve: Shoot patented "glare of death" look at mom, who is once again on her feet but still laughing .
Step thirteen: Drink enough coffee from mug so that lid fits; place lid on mug; leave unattended to fetch knitting and purse.
Step fourteen: Moan loudly that mom has tasted coffee/chocolate.
Step fifteen: Subside into back seat of car, holding coffee with both hands to protect it from any more unwarranted "mom taxes."

There are no pictures of this event, mainly due to my laughing too hard to actually find and point a camera. But ... you know what? If you promise not to tell anyone that you read it here ... if you like coffee AND hot chocolate, this is a mighty fine combination. I'm so glad I -- er -- she discovered it!

In other news, I do note that I haven't done a recent count of current projects on needles. So here ya go:

1. Bulky cardigan -- being knit as a special order for a customer -- lacks three rows of the button band and it will be done, Done, DONE!

2. Great American Aran Afghan -- still no selection from my on-line group as to a square for August, so currently waiting that decision.

3 and 4. Double-knit Mittens -- have both skeins of yarn (retrieved from storage) so that I can proceed. These will be the class project for September, so I hope to finish them soon.

5. Mock cable baby blanket -- Half finished! Still need to write pattern.

6. Wavy-baby from Casbah -- finally unraveled and ready to start knitting again. If nothing else, it'll get worked on this weekend when we drive Carrie over to see her dad in Michigan.

7. Surprise present for my swap partner at Knit & Chat .

I have the Rusted Root to block, the Botanical Medallion to block, and the suri alpaca & silk shawl to block.

Apparently I am a little slow to the finish line these days.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sometimes ...

Many, many years ago my grandfather was a farmer out in Winnipeg. He brought a richness to my life from those experiences. A richness that I do often miss. I remember spending hours and hours with him in the flower gardens, drawing charts so that we would remember where things were, and him letting me choose flowers to plant. He had an earthy wisdom that meant a lot to me. I learned some very valuable lessons; lessons that I strive to pass on to my family and friends.

One saying that he did NOT impart, however, is this: Sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug. This little gem came from one of the newer animated movies, and I'm not certain which one. I *think* it was the Bee Movie, but having never seen it I can't be sure. I just know that I heard this line, and it resonated.

What does it mean? Well, sometimes you're the windshield (and life is good):

This is the Spring Flowers Cardigan from the May 2009 Creative Knitting. I used 8 balls of Filati Carezza, colour number 9, and the suggested needles (US 4 & 6). I expect the gauge is a wee bit off -- on the larger size -- but otherwise I'd say the cardigan is a success. One thing I have yet to accomplish is to sew the buttonholes a bit closed as the buttons I selected weren't quite as large as those envisioned by the designer. All in all, this was a fun and delightful romp.

Here we are, once again, the windshield:
This is a basic little hat made with two strands of fun fur and two skeins of Noro Kureyon. The fun fur was Schachenmayr Brazilia Lungo, no. 210, and On-Line Smash, number 0007, held together. The Noro was colour number 211. You might eek by with only one ball of Noro, but the balls seem to be running short of late and the second ball was a necessity. Of course, since I was breaking into a second ball, I lengthened the hat enough to completely cover my ears. Again, a truly delightful outcome.

And sometimes you're the bug (and get splatted all over the windshield):

This is Wavy Baby from the Spring Knitters. The design is flawless; the technique is likewise flawless. Does anyone see the problem? Yeah, I thought so too. The colours are different. Not different colourways, but different in intensity. One ball of yarn has obviously come from the beginning of the dyepot and the second from the end.

So having splatted unceremoniously against the windshield of the Knitting Gods, I will frog this one. My lovely husband feels that this could be salvaged if only I weren't so fussy; that no one will see the front AND back simultaneously, and thus frogging is not warranted. I, however, will KNOW that there is a mismatch on the colours. So a frogging I will go.

The project will be repeated -- I'll be using two rows of the intense colour followed by two rows of the faded colour. The yarn is way too nice to put away, and I like the design and colours. (The yarn, after all, IS Handmaiden Casbah.)

And so ... remember this little gem: Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Man, this is an interesting summer.

I don't know how things go at your house, but here at Under Construction the last six weeks have been extremely busy. Is there some phrasing to denote something worse than extremely? Because if there is, that's the word I want. Things have just been crazy.

Carrie has finished Grade 12. Watching her apply for university, be accepted for university, audition for the theatre program. These things should have made me feel old. But they didn't. These were just things that she, my baby, needed to do in order to progress to the next phase of her life. They just were things that she did.

The prom, on the other hand, is what brought home to me that she is pretty much grown up. She had her hair done, she donned the great party dress, the red shoes, the gloves. And grew up right in front of my eyes.

She also borrowed my camera to take to the prom with her. There are better shots on the camera at home, but they do make her look very grown up. Extremely grown up. (Sob) She was just a little, wee girl yesterday. I swear it!

In any event, with the camera off at the prom and a slight delay in getting it back, I wasn't really able to get photos of the knitting done in the meantime. But there has been knitting. Most of it is at home, awaiting or being blocked. But there is one piece here at the store:

This is the Betty Salpekar block from the Great American Aran Afghan.

When I started this afghan, I knew there would be difficult squares. In fact, I had heard that some knitters even took a whole month to finish some of the squares. I figured that since I do a lot of knitting at the store, that I'd have plenty of time to finish the squares. Two a month ought to be possible. And it HAS been possible ... right up until this square.

This square is knit in three main pieces: the centre portion, the cabled border, and then stitches picked up for the garter stitch edging. The centre part is a real humdinger. It is complex and challenging ... And when you finally figure out what the heck you are doing, you feel SO accomplished and professional.

The cabled border is a delight to knit. I love watching the corner turns develop. I just couldn't "ooh" and "aah" over it enough. Simply fascinating. This is how the border around the entire afghan will work. And it will be fabulous.

Having finished this square, I now feel confident that i will be able to finish this afghan. Possibly even this year, even though I do have nine more squares to knit. Eight squares will be from the pattern book; the ninth square will be a simple square with garter-stitch borders, and the year and my initials worked in reverse stockinette. At one per month, plus the border ... yeah, it can be done by the end of the year. The question is: Will it?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July Dishcloth of the Month


Materials: One ball Bernat Handicrafter cotton; 4.5mm needles

Cast on 42 stitches. Work 6 rows of garter stitch (knit every row). Begin pattern:

Row 1 (right side): Knit 3 stitches, place marker (this is for the garter stitch border); Knit 1 through back loop; *purl 1, knit 2, purl 1, knit 1 through back loop; repeat from * to last three stitches; place marker (for garter stitch border), and knit last three stitches.

Row 2 (wrong side): Knit three stitches, slip marker; Purl 1; *knit 1, purl 2, knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to last three stitches, slip marker, knit 3.

Row 3: Knit 3 stitches, slip marker; knit 1 through back loop; *purl 4, knit 1 through back loop; repeat from * to last three stitches; slip marker, knit 3.

Row 4: Knit 3 stitches, slip marker; purl 1; *knit 4, purl 1; repeat from * to last three stitches; slip marker, knit 3.

Repeat these four rows until work measures approximately 7 1/2 inches. Work 6 rows of garter stitch. Bind off. Run ends under.

Friday, June 12, 2009

So much to do--so little time

Do you remember that breathless, don't-want-to-ever-be-parted, heart-pounding excitement of new love? Well, that's where I'm at with some of my knitting projects. The ones that I'm not passionately in love with ... well, they're just gonna have to deal. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my active projects.

First, there is the Botanica Medallion Cardigan from Vogue. We started this one Sunday afternoon at 2:00. I've knit the centre medallion, and am one-sixth of the way finished with the outer ring.

Misti International Misti Cotton ... doesn't get much better than this, I tell ya. Soft, supple, rich colour, fascinating pattern. Who wouldn't love it?

Next is the little lace cardigan from Creative Knitting. Back, both fronts, and half a sleeve. What's not to love here? A simple lace pattern that is easy to memorize and difficult to screw up. Nice colour, easy knitting. Again, what's not to love?
And then there's this little beauty. Rusted Root from Zephyr ... being knit in Debbie Bliss Cotton/Angora blend. I'm past the armholes, in case you can't see clearly.
A relatively simple 10-row lace pattern, yarn that absolutely glides over the needles, the absolute lush softness of angora, and a top-down sweater that will require little to no seaming. Life doesn't get any better, does it?

Or does it?
Handmaiden Casbah ... getting ready to be a little pull-over for summer wearing. Handmaiden is the knitter's crack, I swear. If it ain't the colours, it's the textures. They all feel like silk, or butter, or melted chocolate ... Compelling just isn't a strong enough word.

You know what really hurts about today? I have to go wind off yarns to drop into my gift bags for the Knit in Public picnic tomorrow. But I want to knit!!!!

The sooner I go wind off, the sooner I can come back to my knitting, right?

Monday, June 08, 2009

So many requests for pix

So many, many folks have requested pix of the Botanical Medallion in progress, I just had to oblige.

Of course, first you have to see the purely gratuitous cat shot -- Lizzie flaked out on our bed:

Hard to believe the little one is 11 years old this summer.

Also, the Rusted Root WIP, with my hand added for gauge:
Finally, the Botanical Medallion, in its blurry glory:
This is through round 41 ... only a FEW rounds ago. A better shot tomorrow, I promise!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Another month, another list

I have gotten in the habit of doing a count of my projects the first week of every month, and then posting them publicly. Here. The stated goal is to get back down to ... oh, I don't know ... 4 projects sounds reasonable. Two at the store, two at home. That sounds oh-so-reasonable. Doesn't it? Please tell me yes.

I don't even make a list of the projects for which I already have the yarn. That just sounds way too overwhelming for me. And discouraging. The old avoidance technique -- the list is too long, so I'll just avoid it. I do that with housework and stuff, so I think I'd probably do it with my projects as well.

But this, the first-of-the-month list ... It's motivational, in that I keep trying to whittle down the numbers. In that I can see clearly what's on my needles. In that I can see what it is I'm avoiding.

This month, I now number 10. Yes, 10. This is NOT a decrease. In fact ... well, we just won't go there.

There is the bulky cardigan for a customer. I have the back and two fronts completed. Sleeves are next, followed by the button bands. With a good movie, I could probably knock out one sleeve. Should be finished by the end of June.

The Noro hat. Well, I need to get this one finished so that I can display it for Christmas in July. Nothing difficult, just a knit hat with a little fun fur.

Great American Aran Afghan. Yes, well, I knew this would be a long-term project. The square for this month is the Salpekar square on page 24. I've heard lots about this square, ranging from "should be banned" techniques to amazingly difficult. I might just have to take this square home to knit.

There are still two pairs of double-knit mittens in alpaca. Again, I want to have them finished for display in July, so I've gotta get moving on at least one pair of these.

The mock cable baby afghan. The instructions are knit, it's just the knitting that's slowing me down.

The Rusted Root from Zephyr ... ah, yes. Knit in Debbie Bliss cotton and angora blend. Sigh.
I cast on for this one on Wednesday in the car, while Carrie was driving me home. Knit one round, then joined. 5 Rows later, at knit night at the store, I realized that I had been felled by the notorious "join, being careful not to twist." Rip. I started right back up, being careful not to twist, and am now on row 5. The yarn I'm using is thicker than the yarn for which the sweater was designed. I'm going to use the proper needle for the yarn and make the smallest size. The finished result will be a ladies medium, which is exactly what I need. Other than being navy blue (and consequently a little hard to see the stitches), this should be a fairly easy knit.

By the way, it's a top-down raglan, which means little to no finishing! Yippee!

There is a little drop-stitch top made from sock yarn in the spring Knitters. Casbah is SO tempting me ... The yarn is released from its stash hideaway and in the knitting bag, so I count this one as on the needles. Even though it's not.

On Sunday, we're going to start the Botanical Medallion cardigan from the summer Vogue Knitting. It's a knit-along project for the store, and I'm the leader. I probably should start this one ahead of time so that I can answer any and all questions.

Finally, there is a luscious alpaca and silk shawl that only needs the ends run under and blocking. Then it's finished. It seems I'm more of a project knitter than I want to admit, in that I just want to do the knitting and not the finishing. Wonder if there is a market in providing finishing services ... of course, I'd have to find someone to actually DO the finishing.

And finally, the one project that I managed to cross off my list in the last month:

Noro socks for Doug. These are intended as a "thank you" for him watching the store while I attended the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto. The colours of the Noro are delightful. Doug loves the wearing of the socks. I despise the knitting with Noro sock yarn. Twisty, tangled messes which require putting down the knitting and untangling. Grr. The pattern I used was a seed-stitch rib (4 knit stitches and 2 seed stitches), which I stopped two rows above the heels.

So ... there you have it. A more or less complete list of what's on my needles.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The siren call of of wool

Having caught up with the on-line group of knitters doing the Great American Aran Afghan, I decided to take a break from knitting afghan squares and try my hand at something a bit different.

The truth of the matter is that Barb, who is also working on the afghan, said that if I didn't slow down she was gonna (sob) confiscate my pattern book! I wisely decided to take a wee break; after all, she IS younger than me. However, I advised her that I was only taking a break until June 1, which she thought was reasonable. Here's the fun part -- old age and treachery will overcome youth and innocence every time! June 1 is MONDAY! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

In the absence of a square to knit, I decided that the store definitely needed a new sample of Filatti Carezza. The May 2009 Creative Knitting had some lovely designs, and I had plenty of a really nice blue-green. Away I went.

This design is called Spring Flowers Cardigan, found on page 26. Considering I started this late last week, the fact that I've got the back AND most of the left front completed means that this is a really nice project. In fact, forget all the blustering about not liking Carezza. I'm really liking it these days.

My home knitting has been a wee bit frustrating lately. I've been trying to complete a super-bulky cardigan for a customer. I wasn't happy with the cable; I knit too few rows of ribbing; I knit too many rows of ribbing; I crossed the cables wrong ... Just plain frustrating. I don't love, love, love this project and it knows.

And just to make matters worse, my stash has been calling. Oh, has it been calling. More like screaming, actually. The problem is this: I have some really, really nice wool and yarn in my stash. Some of it has matured and is ready to come out and be knitted. Now, normally it matures one project at a time. This is good -- it lets me believe that I can get back to the one-project-at-a-time process. Not a LOT of variety in that you only have one project going, but man do you get a lot of finished objects!

The reality is that I'm never going to get back there. How do I know? Well, there are still 8 projects on needles, two waiting to be blocked; and then there is ...

Debbie Bliss cotton angora (sorry, it's discontinued) and the Rusted Root pattern from Zephyr Style. Technically speaking, the yarn is thicker than specified for the design; however, if I knit a smaller size it should end up fitting. I'll do the math first, but it looks like I can make the smallest size and have it fit me just fine. This little gem is knit from the top down, so there is minimal seaming. Nice, eh?

And THEN there's this little beauty:
Casbah from Handmaiden and a pattern from Knitter's Spring 2009 issue, requiring sock yarn. Mmmm. I knew there was a reason why the daughter got me the same colourway that I picked out last fall, and this is it.

The biggest question is which project will I start tonight. We're driving to Mississauga to see Tanglefoot in concert ... and there's a two-hour ride.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just how big are those anyway?

Not long ago, a very good friend of mine celebrated a milestone birthday. I'm not going to say WHICH milestone birthday ... except to say that it ends with a 0 and ... is larger than the size of the needles her wonderful husband made her for the big day.

Just how big are those needles anyway?

As you can see, it requires a lot of concentration to work these puppies!

Happy birthday, Barb! Thanks for being my friend and a great sport!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Woman on fire!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Woman on fire!

Well, not EXACTLY on fire, but certainly getting caught up in a hurry!

Below are the Suzanne Atkinson and Ginger Smith squares, bringing me totally up to date with my knit-along group on Knit 'n Chat.

The Atkinson Square (page 28) was a lot of fun to knit and watch the church and tree take shape. I must admit that once the decreases for the church roof started, at no time did I have the proper number of stitches between the tree and the church. Everything worked out all right in the end -- as in the church and the tree did not collide, and no one will be the wiser except me. And everyone who reads the blog. It really was a well-charted square, and I enjoyed it.

The Ginger Smith square (page 40) was another square which I wasn't that keen to make. I had quickly read through the directions and was totally put off by the idea of knitting the thing in sections. Why would you do that, when the cables and such all ran the same direction? Since I don't have a love-thing with seaming, it just seemed to be a bit much. In fact, I had decided that I WOULD knit it in one piece when the time came.

The time came, and I read the directions more carefully. As in actually READING and not skimming at a preposterously high rate of speed. You see, there is a reason for knitting the square in sections. There is a little raised knit stitch between each of the cable patterns -- a raised stitch made by slipping a stitch every other row and then knitting the slipped stitch along with a picked-up stitch.

The light came on, the room grew bright and I understood. And knit the square in sections.

The added bonus of knitting this square in sections like this is that you only have to read one chart at a time. This sure makes finding where you are easy, and enjoyable.

I now have 16 squares knit, of the 25 I need for my afghan. The pattern only provides 24 squares, so I was trying to decide which square to duplicate. Then a friend had a brilliant idea. Why not make a square with my initials and a date? Like I said ... brilliant.

What's really interesting to me is that ... even as much as I dislike seaming my projects together ... I'm actually looking forward to sewing this baby together! Who would've suspected, eh?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Long weekend in May

I am finding that my days go by entirely too quickly. After all, it is the long weekend in May, which is the traditional kick-off to summer. Summer. Wasn't it just yesterday that we celebrated Easter?

In any event, I have been working diligently on the Great American Aran Afghan for my knit-along. In the past 10 days or so, I've finished another two squares -- the Judy Sumner square and the Susan Rainey square.

The Rainsey square was the square that made me lust to make this project. A miniature aran sweater on an afghan square! How cool!
Now, I'm not saying that I am disappointed in the entire project. I am just gonna say that I found this square to be a let-down. The square is knitted first ... 10.5 inches of mostly stockinette stitch. What a yawner! Then comes the tiny sweater. Following the directions, I used 3.75mm needles and knit the sweater front and one sleeve. Sewed the sleeve to the front. Lovingly placed the sweater onto the square.

I admit that I had been thinking all along as I knit the sweater "This is kind of big;" and "this doesn't look like it's going to fit;" and "Yowza! This is looking pretty large!" Seeing in real life that the sweater wasn't going to fit -- no how, no way -- well, there just aren't enough polite words that can express my emotions.

I ripped the sweater back and started up again on 3.25mm needles. As you can see, the sweater fits as the designer intended. But doing the trinity stitch on 3.25mm needles with knitting worsted? Not a chance. I switched to a double moss stitch and decreased the centre panel by 2 stitches to accommodate the design change. Unless you look carefully, you won't see the alteration. This had the added benefit of making the sweater fit the square ... otherwise I'd have been ripping yet again.

The Judy Sumner square didn't really catch my eye, nor my imagination. In fact, it was a square that I had thought of not doing. Spider? On my afghan? I squash every spider I come across inside my house. So to put a spider on my afghan just seemed sort of sacreligious.

When the knit-along group decided to make this square I was less than enthused. In keeping with the spirit of the knit-along, I grabbed my needles and wool and started.

To my surprise, I found that I quite enjoyed it. Seeing the spider emerge was fun. Putting the wings on the bugs in the spider web was way too much fun. That part happened during a weekly knitting group meeting here at the store, and everyone was entranced. Myself included.

I guess it just goes to show that you can't be certain about the things you will like, or won't like, to knit. Keeping an open mind will lead to plenty of surprises ... in knitting as well as life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Amelia's Dress

A while back I was at The Yarn Garden and saw this little dress pattern. Since I had a young niece at the time (3 months old, actually!), I picked up the pattern and yarn. I especially loved the hat.

Turns out that my niece isn't so much a hat fan. And I kind of ... got busy (yeah, that's it, busy, not forgetful!) ... and didn't get around to knitting it up. In the meantime, my niece was growing quickly. After all, the difference between 3 months and 2 years is pretty drastic.

With that in mind, I figured that this summer was the last chance I'd have to knit this puppy and have it worn by the intended recipient. A quick perusal of the pattern seemed to indicate that if I knit the dress with no hat I'd have enough. Since Amelia doesn't much like hats, it seemed like a great plan.*

I was correct -- I had just enough yarn to make the dress. With about 12 meters of the white to spare, in fact. I started this project the last week of April, and here it is, the second week of May, and it's done. Simple, straightforward ... and fun.

Details: Gussied-up Toddler Dress & Hat from Vermont Organic Fiber Co.; two skeins each of blue & red and one skein of O-Wool Balance and a size 4mm needle. I did modify the pattern a wee bit around the neckline. I was supposed to do a row of crab stitch; I don't like crab stitch at all, so I opted to do a mini-shell row instead. (Three SC in one stitch, skip one stitch, repeat.)

Now to drop this baby into a box and ship it to my niece ...

*Turns out that my Amelia's parents have been working on the whole hat thing. She is a pale blonde child and needs the sun protection ... Oh well ... Wonder if The Yarn Garden has any more of that yarn left.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Catching up

Over at Knit 'n Chat (Delphi forums), one of the ladies organized a knit-along of the Great American Aran Afghan. Since I was starting a knit-along at the store, I signed up. Was going great guns, in fact. Then somewhere last fall I bogged down. I'm not sure why ... that's not correct. I know why. On-line, the ladies selected two squares that I had already done. Since I didn't need to hurry and push myself, I kind of ... slacked off. That was August. Since then, the group has knit up 7 more squares ... of which I already had two. You do the math -- I don't want to admit how far behind I am.

In any event, I decided it was time to buckle down and get busy. For your viewing pleasure, I present:

On the left is the Berztiss square, directions on page 48. It was a fun knit, presenting no real problems. The four-stitch decreases were interesting; if you followed the directions one step at a time, the instructions were spot on.

On the right is the Martin square, directions on page 36. There are three charts to this square: chart A provides the cabled rope; chart B is the fishing net; and chartC is the fish. I don't mind having multiple charts; in fact, having multiple charts can make knitting the squares easier. The problem is when the designer (or editor of the book) tries to cheap out on the charts. For instance, in this square the directions state "knit 19 stitches in pattern established ..." OK, fine. That means the 3-stitch garter border, the 6 stitches for chart A and the 14 stitches from Chart B, followed by chart C, B and A, and the border. Uh, no. What that really means is the border, chart A and part of chart B ... all of chart C ... part of chart B, chart A and then the border. Deciding where to end in Chart B was no problem; after all, 10 stitches is 10 stitches. Unfortunately, it took several tries to figure out where to restart the pattern in chart B at the conclusion of chart C. I may be slow to figure these things out ... but I may also have a point that the designer/editor could've and should've included those first and last 10 stitches with chart C and made everyone's lives a little easier.

You know the worst part of it? Several customers have come in and looked at the square and commented how cool it is that there's a pineapple square for the afghan.

In other knitting, I have finished yet another pair of socks destined for someone's holiday stocking. This particular pair has a seed-stitch rib for the leg portion, which made the project more interesting than a plain stockinette stitch leg. You know what is really, really cool though? These are identical socks. Without any attempt on my part to make them so. They just turned out identical.

Go ahead. Admire the awesomeness that is my first (and only) pair of identical, self-patterning socks. I still am, and they've been off the needles for a couple of days now.

The yarn is Super Soxx, colour no. 630.0057. I purchased it at the 2008 Knitter's Frolic for half price, possibly because it was being discontinued? Does anyone know if this yarn is still available? It is really nice sock yarn. The colours are gorgeous, and right now I have several potential giftees making a pitch for ownership.

Speaking of the Knitter's Frolic ... the 2009 Frolic occurred this past weekend. Four carloads of knitters from my shop made it the Frolic. A good time was had by all, some goodies purchased (I only bought one skein of Noro sock yarn #S217 and a skein of Misti Alpaca Suri Silk, to match a left-over skein of #SP08 in my stash), and lots of fondling was performed. Shown here is one chance encounter of two of the carloads:

Dorothy, Cathy, Dot, Barb, Sharon and Linda. I, of course, am taking the photo ... and Irene was too busy at the Indigo Moon booth for the photo. Also seen at the Frolic but not photographed were Sue, Pat and Christine. (Hi ladies!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Last Weekend

That was some storm Saturday evening, eh? Doug and I watched it blow across the lake, obliterating our view of Seven Mile Island. The winds were amazing, kicking up whitecaps on the waves. The wind very kindly cleared off the winter debris from the roof over the dining room, too, saving Doug a trip up.

Carrie drove home after her shift at the grocery store. She walked in and calmly announced that a "car was squashed by a tree." Not our car, thankfully. She was duly impressed with the strength of the winds. We were too ... and then we ventured out into the big wide world.

It is said that everyone gets 15 second of fame. The gentleman that owns this particular vehicle just found his:

Note that all four tires on this Caravan are still inflated. Yes, the frame is touching the ground in the middle. Thank heavens that no one was sitting in the van as the tree fell.

Doug and I tried a bicycle ride at Long Sault Conservation Area on Monday. No photos, because we didn't take the camera. But there were at least 12 trees across the trails ... several of them really, really big trees. One section of the trail was blocked about every 75 feet by a felled tree. Again, really impressive.

What else did we do last weekend? We visited with some friends, whose daughter has learned to knit. (At Never Enough Wool, coincidentally! ;-) ) Her latest project is this cute tea cozy.

I've gotta knit a tea cozy. There are just too many cute ones out there.