Monday, November 15, 2010

Good news, bad news.

What should I expect? After all, it IS Monday. The good news is that I finished Sylvi. And oh, what a beautiful sweater she is.

The bad news? Well, let's just put it this way. De Nile ain't just a river in Egypt. It seems that I've gained a wee bit of weight since I moved to Canada. My doctor and I had a discussion about that same weight, and agreed that I should lose a bit. So I'm trying. Unfortunately for me, not quickly enough. And probably won't be in the right places.

In any event, I did model her, just so I could show her off.

I got stitch gauge just fine, using my 6.0mm needles. Row gauge seems to be a bit off, though. The sweater is much shorter than pictured.
Also, the hood wasn't quite as tall as I would have liked; well, needed is a better word.

Look at the flower detail:
That's just gorgeous. The petals are added after everything else is knitted. Just pick up two stitches at the base, and away you go. Then you sew the petal down once you have completed knitting it.

I used 8 skeins of Araucania Nature Wool Chunky, colour number 105 which appears to be discontinued. I had calculated that I would need 10 balls, so apparently being off on row gauge made a huge difference.

If I were to make this design again, I would modify the pattern by working an edge stitch that is always slipped at the beginning of a row and knit at the end, and then a stitch that is always knit on the right side and purled on the wrong side. This would give me edges and a seam similar to that on Inggun, which I quite adored.

I'd also measure myself before I started, to be certain that I made the correct size.

I'm not going to frog this sweater. It's too beautiful. So here's the question -- do I give it to my daughter, my step-daughter or my daughter-in-law? They're all approximately the right size. Did I mention that I'm open to bribes?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good bye, old friend

Good bye, Henry. You've been a wonderful friend --

everything a kitty should be. From sunning yourself in the sun,
to claiming every box you saw. Everyone loved you.
And you loved everyone. Your favourite pastimes were sleeping in the sun, wherever you found it.
Or simply being near us, wherever we were.
When the weather turned chilly, you'd warm us up. Or perhaps we warmed you. We could never tell, except that the purr motor was constant.
For such a small critter, you've left a gaping hole in our hearts.
Sleep well, Henry. We loved you well.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

November? Already?

I can't believe how quickly the year has flown past. I mean -- seriously? November? Where did October go? We aren't even going to talk about September!

The good news is that I did manage to complete the October socks very close to the end of October. Actually, I was only one day late. Notice how these look like plain, old vanilla socks?

Until you look at the top of the foot!
These are Kei-Mei from Cookie A.'s book, Sock Innovations. I knit mine in Arequipa, from Estelle.

Finally, I just had to brag show off report on my progress on Sylvi.
I still have all the flower petals to complete, but everything else is stitched together. I'm 12 rows into the hood! I'll be wearing this baby soon!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More catching up ...

So last April (yes, I know that was 7 whole months ago!) we started a knit-along at the shop. The project was "Inggun" from Elsebeth Lavold's book #18. I had been eyeing that vest for months -- 6 of them to be exact -- and I was so happy when the designated month arrived.

I cast on the first week. Three weeks later, this is what I had:

The back view is equally gorgeous:

And the seam detail -- oh, how I love the seam details:

I used Patons Classic Merino, the camel colour, which has sadly been discontinued. Four balls, on a 5.0mm needle. Delightful. Elsebeth Lavold is my favourite designer, for a reason.

Finally, in keeping with the whole sock-a-month idea, I bring you my September socks:

These are the Ricks socks from Cookie A's book, Sock Innovation. I used Ranco from Auracania, on a 3.0m needle. I purposely used a larger needle and made the sock a wee bit longer because I know the wool will shrink.

In other news ... my brother David just celebrated his birthday. This time last year was quite bleak as he'd just been diagnosed with cancer. This year, he's doing far better. His latest blood work came back with an all clear. Yahoo!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Trying to be current

I'm trying to keep the blog current, keep up with my projects ... you know the drill. There's still so much to report, and time at the shop keeps getting interrupted. But I still try. So this is the second post this week -- how's that?

The Year of Knitting Socks is proceeding apace. I've finished the August socks -- Brainless. Working on the September socks -- Rick from Cookie A -- using Araucania Ranco. Now, I know this yarn will shrink every time you wash it. (Doug had a pair of lovely green socks that are now mine, you see.) As I was working on these, I thought I was getting close to the toe shaping. To make certain, I tried it on.

Remember how I knew this yarn would shrink? Well, the sock barely made it on past the ankle and heel area.
Which meant that the prudent course of action was to frog it. Completely. (Insert heavy sigh here!) Of course, this just means that I get to enjoy that yarn all over again! (Insert happy face here!)

In other knitting news, I learned how to double knit this past week. The result:

This nice reversible headband. I plan to use it this winter when cross-country skiing! Made from one ball each of Naturally Yarns Loyal Superwash Merino, colours #912 and 915 (dark and light green respectively) and 3.5mm circular needle.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

With apologies to Dr. Suess ...

I present my version of his classic counting story (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)

One sock:

These are the April socks, done with a pattern called "Twisted Rib." I believe this one was from KnitPicks, but I can't check because their site seems to be down. Both my socks (blue ones on the right) and Barb's (brown ones on the left) were worked in Misti International Alpaca sock yarn. Yummy!

Two sock:

These are the socks for May, from Cookie A's book titled "Sock Innovation." The design is called "Angee." My socks, on the left, were worked from Cascade Heritage sock yarn -- truly a delightful yarn. I don't remember what yarn Barb used, but she got hers finished too.

Red sock:
These are the socks we chose for June -- the Ribbed Ribbons Socks from Wendy Johnson's book Socks from the Toe Up. My socks, again on the left, were worked with Dream in Colour sock yarn that Carrie gave me for Mother's Day. The pictures doesn't really show the sparkles in the yarn, but sparkle it does.

Blue sock:
This pair of socks was worked in Berroco Metallic Sock yarn, and was started while Doug and I were camping in Algonquin Park in July. My theory is that we encountered so many thunderstorms because of the sparkles in the yarn. The sky just wanted to mimic the sock. Hey -- I said it was a theory, not a good theory!

And since I'm not done showing off socks, here are the July socks:
This design is called "Froot Loops"from Knitty. Barb and I both chose to use hand-painted yarns that we had created some time ago. Looking at our feet, Barb claims that I have the "before milk" socks and she has the "after milk socks." I can see that!

But wait -- there's more!
These are socks knit from KnitPicks Simply Stripes, a discontinued sock yarn. Probably will be gifted at Christmas, but we don't know for sure. After all, there ARE eight pairs of socks to be done for the big holiday.

We got some new sock yarn at the store, and I got to make a sample pair of socks.
This is Zauberball, and as other folks have noted, these are definitely fraternal twin socks. If you are a knitter/sock wearer who requires matching socks -- don't go near the Zauberball. On the other hand ...

And finally, I have completed the August socks:
These are called Brainless, from Yarnissima. I'm not so sure what is brainless about these socks. You definitely need a brain to knit them. I really love how the cables split apart to bracket the heel gusset, and then reform to travel up the leg. Really sweet design. The yarn is, if memory serves, from Socks That Rock, but I can't find the label to know for certain.

Wow. That's 8 pair of socks. At least you know I've been doing something during this very long blogging absence!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A day in the life of ...

Now that it is August (shhh -- I know the month is one/third over. DeNial ain't just a river in Eqypt, ya know?), I thought it was time to show you the March socks that Barb and I knit up. This is the Butterfly sock from Knitpicks. I was loyal to my stash and used up some old Eaton's yarn; Barb, on the other hand, used On Your Toes Bamboo sock yarn. Couldn't tell you what size needles or anything else about them, except that we did them. And on time!

And then there's this little gem:

Abandoned like yesterday's McDonald's french fries. For this:
This is the Sagrantino Shawl, being knit from Misti International HandPaint Sock yarn. I saw this on Ravelry, looked at the handpaint yarn, and fell. Hard. Hard enough that I'm even using double pointed needles.

But even the shawl paled when confronted by this:
Which very quickly became this:

What you see there is the fall shipment of James C. Brett Marble Chunky. Including the new colours for fall. Man, did I have fun at the wool shop! With much rearranging and squeezing, I managed to fit all the colours into the display, and store the overflow. See?

Now, it's back to the shawl ... or the sock ... or Sylvi ... or the July socks ... or the August socks ... decisions, decisions, decisions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Algonquin Vacation

Our family has gone canoe camping in Algonquin Park several times. The daughters love it, as do Doug and I. This year, however, the daughters were both busy working and not able to get away. Rather than miss out on a lovely trip, Doug and I decided to go by ourselves. It was, to quote a famous author, "the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Sunday morning we loaded up and headed out onto Canoe Lake. This is the first time that we have gone north out of our launch point. The view, once afloat, is spectacular.

The day started out just fine -- sunny and warm. We knew that rains were predicted, but the last weather report we'd seen had said only Sunday evening and Monday morning would be wet. So off we went.

Sure enough, the rain arrived just about the time we settled into a nice campsite on Burnt Island Lake for the evening. Undeterred by the weather, and to prove to my friends (who couldn't believe that I would really take knitting with me), I sat and knit while waiting for dinner.
Dinner was macaroni and cheese -- a staple of our camping trips. The rain continued over night, altho not real heavy. Monday morning dawned as an overcast day, but we figured it would blow over and we'd be just fine. Besides, cloudy skies mean less sun burn. After the usual first morning photo opportunity, we departed.
Monday we paddled up the rest of Burnt Island Lake, made a small portage into Joe Lake and continued on up to Otterslide Lake. There is a way by which you can float your canoe through the lakes and bypass all the portages. We did, and it was delightful to wind our way through a creek-type passage, and then wade where necessary. The water was quite clear and fast-flowing, which was delightful.

We slept Monday night on Otterslide Lake. Tuesday morning dawned clear and sunny. In fact, it was so nice and sunny that the bull frogs that serenaded us all night showed up to catch some rays!
The winds were absent, and the lake gave us the most amazing reflections. truly awesome.
We also saw some very interesting fungi on this site. I have no idea what kind it was, or anything about it. I just liked the composition of this picture. Took it myself, and I'm very proud of it.
Once again, there was knitting. Note the sun burn. It was overcast and I didn't need any sunscreen. Yeah, right. I bet I could buy some nice ocean-front property in Nevada too.
Tuesday we paddled back down thru the Joe lakes and onto Burnt Island Lake. We stopped at an awesome sight for lunch and a swim. Then decided that we needed to be closer to the far end of the lake for our paddle out on Wednesday. So we pushed on.

So did the rain.

Fortunately for me, it didn't rain lots that evening and the tree roots provided a wonderful seat.
We got up Wednesday morning and started breaking camp. I've been fairly good about not making squeally-girly noises while camping. This morning, however, I blew it. As I bent over the backpack to tuck something away, a toad hopped out from under the pack. I screamed. I really don't know who was more surprised -- the toad or myself! In any event, the toad hung around for a bit, probably hoping that our presence would attract some juicy flies. He even checked out my water sandal!
We'd had rain in the early morning hours, and the skies didn't look promising. We packed up and started for home.

Along the way, we saw a moose! It didn't appear to be the least bit upset about us watching him. There were several canoes full of folks gawking, in fact.

Again, the skies didn't look very promising. So we pushed on.

Along the way, the clouds opened up and we ended up waiting out some rain at a portage with a nice group of young men from Northlands Camp. We told them about the delightful bypass of the portages ahead of them, and then we pushed on.

Later on, we stopped for a stretch our legs break on Joe Lake. Who should we see but these young men. This time I was brave enough to explain about the whole taking pictures of your sock in progress with different folks. They were really good about it! Thanks, Aaron & Josh and the gang!

Now, Doug and I are fairly proficient in the canoe -- by which I mean that we don't tip easily, work well together, and are able to turn quickly on demand. These skills became necessary in short order.

We stopped at the portage between East Arm and Canoe Lakes. The sun was shining and the winds were calm. We made the portage between the two lakes. Again, the sun was shining and the winds were calm.

We put our canoe into the water of Canoe Lake. The skies darkened. The winds began to howl. We pushed on, because we were supposed to be going home this afternoon. This could have been a disaster, because:

The storm was absolutely amazing. We ended up huddled on a dock for about an hour and a half, waiting. We dumped water from the canoe twice ... thought the storm had moved on. We jumped back in the canoe and started paddling furiously towards the Portage Store. The skies opened yet again. How in the world there could've been more rain up in those clouds is beyond me, but there was. Once again, we stopped on a dock and huddled under the tarp.

Then the rain ceased and we dared to venture forth again. Looking ahead, we saw some crazy folks in a motor boat out on the water. Silly folks, don't they know that the weather isn't good for boating? Turns out it was a couple of guys from the Portage Store out looking for straggling canoes.

There is a nasty rumour around that we may have accepted a ride back to the dock. There is no photographic proof of such a thing, so we can maintain plausible deniability. All I can say is that they were very polite and helpful!

We sloshed our way up to the car, pulled dry clothes from the packs (thank heavens for garbage bags!) and sloshed our way back to the showers. We took hot showers and changed into our dry clothes. Opened the door ... and stepped out ...

into sunshine.

There is no justice.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saying good bye ...

Summer of 2010 is going to be a really tough season. We will be saying good-bye to two of our three kitties. Henry has developed renal failure; Mimi has some sort of respiratory thing going. We don't know what the respiratory thing is, but we do know that we can't treat her. Mimi is her own worst enemy.

This is a snap of Henry and Mimi. Henry is the guy on the left, and Mimi on the right. They've pretty much been inseparable in the time that I've known them.

We had to say good-bye to Mimi today. Over the weekend, her breathing became so laboured it was painful to watch and to hear. There was really nothing we could do for her; so in the end, we did what we could. And that was to ease her off into the next world.

Doug had a colonoscopy scheduled this morning, but I called the vet's office when they opened. They said 3:15, and we were there. The staff and vets at Port Perry Animal Hospital are great. The whole episode was handled with the utmost of caring and concern for all involved.

Mimi is buried in a sun beam, overlooking the lake. We'll be getting a statue to mark her spot.

So now Henry will get our attention and love. Summer is the best time to be a kitty; there's plenty of sunshine and chipmunks to hunt. I hope that Mimi is off somewhere running free and breathing easily; and that she knows we loved her.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Should I, or shouldn't I?

I've started knitting Sylvi using Araucania Nature Wool
and I'm generally happy with how it's turning out. Sure, the sleeves are boring to knit; sure the fronts are also boring. But the back! How I'm going to love the back. I suspect the designer was greatly influenced by Elsebeth Lavold. There are just too many similarities between Sylvi and Elsebeth's designs. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. After all, just LOOK at this seam:

This is a detail from Inggun. If you look at the pictures of Sylvi, THAT is the look the designer is aiming for. She tells you to always slip the first stitch of the row, and then mattress stitch the seams so that the selvage lies to the front, giving you a similar appearance. Go ahead and take another look; I'll wait.

So I knit up the sleeves, and the left front. Then I seamed them together because it seemed like a sensible thing to do. Uses less stitch holders that way, as well as getting some of that pesky seaming out of the way.
Not exactly the look I was aiming for. Either I've done it wrong, or I've gotten way too proficient at mattress stitch. In any event, it isn't giving me quite the look that the designer wants. And I must admit that I LIKE the effect she was aiming for.

Because "De Nile" ain't just a river in Egypt, I continued on my merry way. Knit the right sleeve (actually I knit both sleeves first, and then the left front), and started the right front. All the while, I'm pondering the seam detail, and the lack of it on my Sylvi. And then I thought to myself -- I could just modify the design and create that edge myself -- just follow Elsebeth's side edge directions. Piece of cake.

Except ... I've knit a fair piece already. I'm halfway thru my third ball of wool in fact. But the seam design -- it's really a design feature. Will Sylvi be as nice without it? Here's what I've got so far:

What does anyone think? Am I being too picky by even thinking of starting over?