Saturday, September 29, 2007
So to take advantage of our healthy dollar vs the euro, I decided to order a book from a shop in Germany. Anyway, it seems to be the only place that carries it. This is an Estonian lace knitting book “Pitsilised Koekirjad” by Leili Reimann that has totally amazing patterns which are all graphed, thank goodness because there are no English translations. I got great service from Martina and recommend her online shop if you need anything knitterly that isn’t available in North America. I did freak out when the automated shopping cart added over 16 euros to my bill for postage when the book only cost 15.50 euros! However after emailing Martina she explained that for something like one book, she needed to adjust the postage manually and it would only be 5 euros. Whew! The total comes to just under $30 Canadian which is quite reasonable. Now I await its delivery. We’ll see how long it takes! For a nibble of the very tasty lace in this book, have a peek at Fluffbuff’s blog post. Note that she links to a PDF of the symbol translations which will be very handy. Indispensable actually. And here’s the blog where Mary is posting all the samples her group has knitted to date. OK call me lace obsessed. But they’re so pretty! More when my book arrives.
Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting away on my Icelandic Lace Shawl. It’s coming along but I’m still not sure whether I like the colour order I chose or not. It sparked it up a bit when I put in some of my orange though! It’s kind of dull without it. No photos today because it’s raining and dark. I’m beginning to feel as if the original designer of this shawl just made it up as she went along and then tried to write it down. It just feels kind of patchworked, like “Maybe after I finish this section of reversed stockinette, I should switch to a lace pattern. Now which one fits the number of stitches I have? And maybe I should change colours at the same time. Oops it isn’t quite long enough. Perhaps I should pick up the bottom edge and add some more lace?” Just like that. I’m hoping when I’m done that the original beauty that attracted me to this pattern will still be there in spite of all my messing with yarns and colours. Because I’m not doing it over again! Even though I’m sure I have enough yarn left over to make another shawl from scratch. Yes I got a little carried away with the spinning...
Tomorrow I’m off to help a dear friend jury a Christmas craft show. I’ve done this before but I’ve been promised that the UberJeweler won’t be there participating this time. This is a woman with talent and an incredible ego to match who runs happily in her high heeled shoes over every one else’s opinions. She has already got an automatic entry herself of course. But when she is on the jury it becomes totally her show because she has the only taste that matters. “What do you mean? You actually like that stuff? Ha-ha-ha!” Translation: “You are totally uncool and have no idea what you’re talking about because I know it all. And you don’t.” The strongest will gets blown into tatters by her scorn. The weird thing is that she doesn’t mean to be unkind. At least I don’t think so. It just never enters her head that you might be right and she wrong. She’s a force of nature, like a hurricane. It’s exhausting to be in the same room. Anyway without her there, the hardest part for me is that there is a limited amount of tables available and probably 3 times that number applying for them. Some lovely people have to be rejected. It’s difficult to look them in the eye and hand their items back. It’s like saying that their child is ugly and isn’t allowed to play with others. I’m sure a lot of the craftspeople take it that personally too. It usually has nothing to do with the quality of their work. Just that it wasn’t appropriate or there were already too many similar things. And my huge salary for enduring all this angst? A free lunch. I told you I was doing this for a dear friend, didn’t I?
Friday, September 28, 2007
For Cynthia who asked in the Comments yesterday, here’s the closeup of the Crosshatch Socks on me. They are too big for me but you get the idea what the stitch looks like stretched out some anyway.
In other news, I got my subscription copy of Knitter’s magazine yesterday. This is the only mag I subscribe to and that was because I wasn’t able to find it in the shops for awhile. Lately of course I’ve seen it everywhere, usually well before I get my copy in the mail. Only 3 more issues to go and then I’ll go back to purchasing it the way I do every other magazine. Do not get me onto the subject of cover prices and our Canadian dollar that has caught up and actually beat the US dollar for the first time in about 30 years! Suffice it to say I’m getting fed up about having to pay $2 more per issue. Anyone have any ideas who I should complain to? My magazine shop says to write the government but which level? Mine or theirs? Maybe the publishers? Aren’t the local shops losing on this too because they pay our stronger Canadian dollar for the higher prices on the publications? Can’t they demand some kind of discount to bring it more into line? Or do we Canadians just not have enough purchasing power at one-tenth the population of the US. Told you not to get me started!
So I’ve had a chance to read Knitter’s and this is a pretty good issue. Not nearly as good as Interweave Knits but there’s some cute items to knit. And crochet too: knitted squares that are edged and joined with crochet into mats and runners. (I likes me the combination!) There’s even a sweater that is knitted but looks like it could easily be translated into crochet (Etched Copper) if you prefer. There’s a cute beaded bag with knitted beads for the adventurous. The two guy sweaters are as usual a bit too colourful for most men. Doubt they’ll have the popularity of IK’s Cobblestone Pullover by Jarod Flood (Brooklyn Tweed) which seems to have taken everyone’s fancy. XRX has a big hit on their hands with Jane Sowerby’s spectacular book Victorian Lace Today and they take advantage. Jane has a simple ruffled-edged shawl done twice in different yarns and an accompanying article to get beginners started. It made me look twice at some kid mohair/silk yarn in my LYS yesterday. But I resisted even though this is probably the one thing I would most like to knit out of this issue. Plus I enjoyed the articles especially the one about the next generation taking over the family fibre businesses.
Finally today I thought I’d show you one of the stained glass windows they put in the house next door. This photo is from my bedroom window.
Yes, real soldered lead-came stained glass but with a layer of plain glass on the outside. The house is beginning to look quite Edwardian like some of its other neighbours in the ’hood. If you look close though you can see the modern lack of craftsmanship and the poor quality wood they’ve used. The tradeoff is the house is much better insulated and has plumbing and wiring up to code. Unlike our house which was built in the 1930’s and is quite the mish-mash of old and new, good and bad. We’ve been here nearly 29 years and have repaired and replaced things, some more than once! It’s never perfect of course.
Back to my shawl knitting…
Thursday, September 27, 2007
…from the scene. Silly Ms. Polly kept sticking her nose into the camera lens. I think she wanted the kind of attention that the other bloggers’ pets enjoy: her photos and antics recorded daily for her adoring fans, cute thought bubbles included. I never thought of her as being such a prima donna! Sucky for lovin’ though. Anyway, after a cat-ectomy, the artsy shot:
(for my DIL)
Begun: August 22, 2007
Completed: September 26, 2007
Yarn: Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch Colour #717, 100g balls = 400m/440yds, 70% wool/23% nylon/7% Elite.
Needles: 2mm Clover Takumi short dpns
Pattern: Crosshatch Lace from More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. (This book has now justified its purchase!)
Comments: This pattern is one of the “true lace” variety with pattern stitches on every row. It has great texture when not stretched. You can’t really see the lace holes until the socks are on. It would make great gloves or wristwarmers as well.
Other than the pattern stitch on the leg and instep and a 1/1 ribbed cuff instead of my usual 2/2, this was my standard sock pattern on 72 sts. 8” (24 rows rib plus 9 patt reps) to heel turn, 7-3/4” (10 instep patt reps) to toe decreases. Dec to 6 sts each needle (24 total), “dog-ear reduction” before grafting.
Have I ever described what I mean when I say “dog-ear reduction”? I think it’s in my toe grafting tutorial. (Link in my sidebar.) But to reiterate, it’s a method to reduce the little “ears” that often stick out of the standard toe after you’ve grafted the remaining stitches together. When the toe stitches are divided on two needles (top and sole) and before I graft the toe together, I lift the second-last stitch on each end of each needle over the last stitch. Sometimes it takes a bit of maneuvering to accomplish but that’s four stitches reduced that you don’t have to graft. It rounds the toe slightly at the outer edges thus eliminating the “ears”. And there ya go!
I spent some time this morning knitting on the Icelandic Lace Shawl. The centre section is now decreasing markedly toward the top. It feels like progress is being made finally. Here’s a progress shot of sorts:
Nice texture, huh? I promise it'll look better after a good wet blocking.
There was some excitement (not the good kind) at my last spinning class yesterday evening. One of my poor students got her shoulder wrenched while trying to hang on in a full bus on her way to class. The driver stopped suddenly and she felt an ominous pop. When she got to the shop, the owner Cara (who is a nurse) decided that a trip to emergency for an assessment of the damage was probably a good idea and drove her to the hospital. The news today is that it was a torn rotator cuff and a pulled muscle pinching a nerve. Ouch! At least she didn’t break anything and it will heal up ok. The shop just got her new spinning wheel in too but now she can’t spin on it for awhile. That’s really gotta hurt!
So my last last class was down to 3 from an original 8. The remainder are all really gung-ho however and I feel it was a good class overall. Cara is still understandably annoyed with me but I’m leaving her with a very capable replacement who actually has real teaching creds and everything. So she’s not going to suffer without a spinning instructor. Meanwhile I get all my Wednesday evenings back. I don’t do evenings well anyhow. I’m always tired by then and my brain isn’t in full gear. It’s veg in front of the TV with knitting time. Now, if anyone wanted me to teach at 6 or 7 am I’d be all for it! Funny thing though — nobody is up for that. Go figure.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Meanwhile I finished the Crosshatch socks for my daughter-in-law. I’ll show them off tomorrow because right now they’re drying from their celebratory bath and blocking. I can’t find the ball band so I can’t record the yarn details, drat it. I do know it’s Meilenweit’s Mega Boots Stretch sock yarn with colours shading from purple to blues to turquoise to green but the rest of the info is awol. I’ll keep searching because it should be around here somewhere in this swamp…er, studio.
So now I’m continuing on the DDD Socks. I’m past the heels on both and heading down the feet (halfway on one) so it shouldn’t take me too much longer. Since both of my sock-girls have already had their birthdays, I’m running a wee bit late as usual. T-Man gets another pair of socks next even though he got the last pair before these ones, didn’t he? I’ve already dyed the yarn anyhow. He needs enough pairs so that he doesn’t run out if I don’t do the laundry often enough! And since he’s been wearing my handknit socks nearly every day, that’s a lot o’pairs fer sure. Of course, I myself have over a dozen so I think he’s just wanting some kind of parity. It would be somewhat easier if his feet were as small as mine though. Just sayin’.
I’ve been plugging away at the Icelandic Lace Shawl. It’s slowly filling in the top triangle with the moorit yarn. Not enough to bother photographing yet and the light is lousy today anyway. Notice there is no mention of blanket weaving in my report. I feel crappy. Weaving takes energy. Enough said.
I enjoyed Barbara M.’s comment on yesterday’s post. (Thanks, hon’! See me waving to you behind me in the Ravelry lineup?) I too am feeling a bit squeamish about flaunting my stash. So I figure I won’t show any more than I want to. Otherwise it will take weeks for me to enter it all and it just might crash Ravelry’s servers. Heh! I mean, most of those young things on there haven’t had 50 years or so to collect a decent stash. They’ve probably only just discovered knitting and might not yet know about weaving, spinning, crocheting or all the other crafts that each need their own yarn stash. And we won’t even discuss the equipment. Needles and stitch markers are nothing compared to what one needs to weave for instance! I’m a bit concerned about the library of my books too. If I was to print out my inventory list it would take 89 pages. I’m not planning to re-enter it in some public forum! Maybe I’ll just show the highlights of my knitting book collection.
Speaking of Ravelry, I just got a notice that CrochetMe has just opened anew with a different format. It’s no longer an online magazine for crochet like Knitty is for knitting, but it’s now a user-based forum like a much-scaled-down Ravelry. You can publish your own patterns and tips and tricks. (Without benefit of an editor. Yikes!) You can have buddies and a link to your Flickr site. It’s also still in Beta but anyone can join — no lineups. I’m already on there as damselfly. It remains to be seen how useful I will find it. If you crochet, check it out.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I’m still a bit skeptical as to where Ravelry will fit into my style. Kind of hard to ignore a lot of folks whom I admire madly chanting its praises though. This includes several members of my beginner spinning class who were cheering at getting their invitations. It’s starting to take on the aspect of Exclusive Club, doncha think? As #23999, I feel like I’ve got my nose pressed up to the window trying to see what all the hoopla is about inside. Guess I’ll find out soon enough! They’re letting people in more quickly now, even though they still aren’t actually “live” yet. And there’s almost 12,000 behind me still! I bet nobody was expecting this level of participation and excitement over an interactive knitting and crochet community. For more blather, listen to Jess and Casey (Ravelry’s creators) over on Stash and Burn’s recent podcast.
I spent yesterday (in my ancient dressing gown – don’t ask) helping a friend adjust a blouse pattern to fit her Big Girl figure. I had already adjusted it quite a bit several years ago but the back shoulder area needed a bit more tweaking. The first one was in handwoven silk and she wore it often enough to just about wear it out so she knows this one will be another popular item in her wardrobe. She plans to make a replacement garment again in her own fine handwoven and hand-dyed silk/linen fabric. It feels lovely, all crunchy yet with a flattering drape. Shoulda taken a photo of it while I was fondling it, shouldn’t I?
In other crafty news, I’m just starting the toes on the Crosshatch Socks. Haven’t touched the DDD Socks at all in an attempt to finish the Crosshatch first. I’m slogging away in the Icelandic Lace Shawl centre doldrums. The stitch is a simple [k3tog, k1p1k1 in next st] repeat and then, after a plain knit row between, work a k1p1k1 over the k3tog and knit those made-3 sts tog. There are decreases at the beginning, middle and end of the pattern rows which automagically staggers the two elements and decreases 8 stitches at the same time so there’s really only one pattern row. I guess that’s why it feels like it’s going on forever! It does make a cute mesh of puffs and holes which leads me to continue slogging and the rows keep getting shorter so there’s a definite end out there. Then I have to pick up the opposite end and carry on for a while longer on the outside edge of the triangle. It’s the process that counts, right?
So I’m feeling a bit better today from whatever bug hit both T-Man and me this last weekend. It’s a bit like a cold but not too sniffly. It mostly just knocks you flat with no energy. This effect still comes and goes so you start something and then poop out quickly. Not terrible — just annoying. And it’s T’s birthday today! I forgot to wish him a Happy Birthday at 5:30 am this morning so I sent him an email. How romantic, eh? LOL! Now he’ll be my Old Man for a month or so until I catch up in early November. He already bought himself his birthday presents: $600 worth of new clothes, a very expensive chuck for his lathe and a lovely turned wooden platter made by his friend (and guild president) Bruce Campbell at a guild auction. (No, not “Army of Darkness” Bruce Campbell! This Bruce Campbell!) I can show you the platter which is now on display on our buffet:
Front and back. Init purdy?
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I brought the cactus plants inside before it gets too cold for them outdoors. T wanted to put away the patio furniture — all but one small table and two plastic chairs so we can sit out in the sun when possible. Since the plants were on the big table which was being dismantled for storage it was a good opportunity to bring them in even though it’s quite warm and sunny this afternoon. I still have a few tomatoes in the greenhouse to pick. There’s some mixed greens (mizuna, tatsoi, arugula) in there which should be able to overwinter while I snip them off for salads. In the main garden I still have some leeks that will withstand any weather until I harvest them. Plus a few herbs like rosemary and parsley that should hold all winter. I have several overwintering broccoli plants that will hopefully give me some sprouts come spring. Otherwise we’re just waiting on the first frost when much of the garden will turn up its toes and die back. No hurry though!
It’s a bit late for Talk Like A Pirate Day but I found this great free pattern from Anne Kuo Lukito for Buccaneer’s Booty Socks. I SO want a pair! They could do double duty on Halloween as well. They are going into the Queue and I hope I’ll get around to making them before next year’s pirating celebrations.
Meanwhile I’ve knit and tinked, knit and tinked on my Icelandic Lace Shawl. Such a deceiving pattern! It looks complicated at first but when you break it down, the individual pattern sections seem rather simple. Until you go to work them and find out they get messed up so easily unless you pay attention at all times. Very Zen as you must be In The Moment while working on this shawl. Unfortunately I seem to be lousy at staying in focus. Here’s a button from Krista that expresses how she feels about “Slow Knit-A-Longs are OK”.
I agree — it’s not a race! You don’t win any prizes for a first place finish. Better to post your problems and solutions to help the ones who come after you. Of course you realize I’m also a very slow knitter who couldn’t win a knitting race anyhow! I am however very stubborn (must be my Scorpio influence) and I’m prepared to stick with this shawl no matter how long it takes. I already spent days spinning the yarn so what if it takes many more days to knit it up.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I did love me Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” when I were a sprout tho’. And in the movin’ picture version, Robert Newton’s Long John Silver mite o’ been a scurvy dog, but he were me hero! Me pappy an’ me used ter watch old swashbucklin’ movies on TV and no gentleman o’ fortune could talk as colourful as ol’ Long John. He’d be embarrassed to know he be the Patron Saint o’ this day unless ye showered him w’doubloons as well. But shiver me timbers, th' real Bobbie woulda loved it! Unfortunately he’s been carousin’ in Fiddler’s Green since I were a lass. The grog got ‘im, not some scallywag’s cutlass.
Stow that, ye gobs! I can’t do a whole post like that. It’s exhausting! So I’ll show some photos instead. I’ve been steadily working on the Icelandic Lace Shawl. I’ve been successfully using the Russian Join to link in the next colour pretty invisibly.
Now I’m heading into the Main Triangle (aka the doldrums) which at least has the advantage of the rows getting shorter as I go.
So far it looks like something the cats got into but I’m hoping that as usual, all will settle down in the blocking. I’m not so much liking that single line of purl blips between the blue fox and the moorit. It’s not a mistake — I triple-checked. However in the original those two colours were much closer (light grey and white) and it doesn’t really show. The designer was trying for more of a blending between back and front of the shawl but I think there should be more than one place where this occurs so obviously. A “mistake” repeated is a “design”. If necessary I may have to introduce another one on purpose when I knit the bottom edge.
And I promised a photo of the cobblestones and brick work that we did (well, mostly T-Man did) in the back yard.
Bet you can’t tell which cobblestones we did first! We got better at mixing concrete as we went, though there wasn’t a lot of consistency in the bags of mix anyhow. At least there won’t be mud puddles there this winter. Everything is still wet from last night’s rain but it’s sunny out now. Relatively cold though. I’m wearing my woolies in the house and the furnace actually kicked in this morning. I’ll adjust eventually so that I’m comfortable at the lower temps. I’d rather be too cool than too hot. Just me.
Back to celebratin’ your scurvy selves, me mateys! Go find your inner pirate here. Haarrrrr….
Smooth sailin', an' fair winds t' ye!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
On Sunday afternoon we babysat the grandkids while their parents went to a wedding. We managed to get out to a nearby playground for awhile but it started to sprinkle on us as we walked home later. Miss K found another little girl to play in the sand with and found it great fun to run around the concrete edge of the empty wading pool with somebody’s abandoned toy car. Her little brother, Mr O the Stargazer had a lovely time in the safe baby swing while I pushed him back and forth. The city workers are still on strike (9 weeks and counting!) and the community centre was closed but, although the playground hasn’t seen any maintenance, it still gets well used by the little kids and their parents anyway. Everyone is on the lookout for nasty garbage or anything deemed unsafe. The interesting thing is how several small toys and some sidewalk chalk were left there and little kids kept coming along and playing with them and then leaving them for the next bunch. I’ve never seen that happen before. I’m sure the regular maintenance crew would have removed them.
Yesterday I read a heap o’ emails and did a heap o’ laundry. Fun stuff. I don’t really have any good crafty reports except that I’m 3/4 of the way down the feet on the Crosshatch Socks and turned the heels on the DDD Socks. BTW, for June who asked: the yarn for these is Sisu (originally white) and was dyepainted in skein form by my daughter which is why they are called the Darling-Daughter-Dyed Socks! Just FYI. I’m up to Row 44 on the Icelandic Lace Shawl and it seems to be coming out ok now after its initial bout of PITA Syndrome. Each of the yarns feels so different from the last that it’s kind of a challenge to knit. The blue fox was especially sticky on the Addi Lace needle tips for some reason. Looks interesting but more like a cat hammock than a shawl so far. The rows are getting shorter, but not fast enough! I’ll take a photo when there’s enough light around here. Today is overcast and we’ve had a few rain sprinkles on and off. It’s not terribly conducive to photography sessions.
From the nice sunny warm weather we had last week it’s down to only about 14 degrees Celsius today (that’s 57 F for you non-metric folks). We have the furnace turned on but we’ve kept the temp down to 18 C (64.4 F) so it hasn’t kicked in hardly at all yet. I’m wearing socks and a fleece sweatshirt though! Eventually we’ll have it go up to 20 in the morning and evening but I’d like to hold off until well into October if I can. Guess it depends on how cold it gets at night. So far my cactuses are still outside. I think they bloom better if they get some cool weather before they come indoors for the winter. There’s no chance of them freezing out there yet so they’ll be fine for a few more days or a week until I get around to bringing them in. It’s definitely feeling a little Autumn-ish.
I nearly forgot — just in case you were waiting for the report, the house next door is now a muted sage green with a darker forest green at the base and white trim. It’s quite pretty actually. But then my bedroom is almost the same shade as the base green so I must like it. (I think it needs some orange trim though!) They’re still working on it, mostly inside since it’s been raining. Rumour has it that it’s going to be at least another month until it’s done. Bleh. We’re counting over a year now since they started demolition of the original siding. Talk about your long-drawn-out projects. Oh yeah — and I still need to post a photo of the brick and cobblestone entryway from our side gate now that it’s completed. Note that it’s on the opposite side of our yard to the construction zone. We’ve been pointedly ignoring that side until they’ve quite finished messing it up.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Said persistence has been sorely tested by my beginning the Icelandic Lace Shawl yesterday. It seems I somehow picked up 2 stitches when I changed colours and knit the first row of its new pattern. Do you know how hard it is to count 339 stitches over and over? I had used stitch markers every 20 stitches when casting on but once I got the first row knitted, I took them off. Now I’m tinking back Row 6 while replacing the stitch markers. It’s quite tedious but I’m hoping it will give me a clue as to where the extra stitches came from. If they’re still there when I reach the beginning of the row, I plan to do a little surreptitious decreasing rather than start over. But we’ll see how that goes. How can this relatively simple project be so aggravating?
The new fall issue of Knitty is out today. It was a bit late due to Amy’s bout with a gall bladder that tried to kill her. She’s feeling much better now and has made her usual magic with the magazine. Go see! I’ll wait. As long as it takes…
Some nice stuff in there including cardigans, socks, lace and the cutest little critters called woodins, including their own little stump (with mysterious eyes) to live in, by Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land. Note that trolling around Anna’s blog can seriously eat into your time. Plus it’s a little hard on the smile muscles. Her Flickr site cracked me up completely — I’m still wiping tears from my eyes from laughing! I just love that combination of cute and slightly sinister. Is it just me? Having been born in a pumpkin patch just after Halloween could have done something to my brain, ya know.
Oh, speaking of birthdays, a very Happy Birthday to my Darling Daughter who’s turning 35…er, 3 + 5 = 8, yup, 8 today! See ya tomorrow at the wild party…er, joyful celebration!
Hope you get well soon, Susan! BTW, T-Man doesn’t care if the house isn’t vacuumed and the dishes aren’t done. He just comes home from a hard day at work and quietly does a whole mess of yard work, and cleans the catbox which generally makes me feel somewhat guilty for sitting around knitting all day. This is particularly galling when I screw up said knitting (see above) and end up with nothing at all to show for my time. Except a crabby disposition and an inability to listen to a recounting of his workday while I’m trying to count up to 339 for the 5th time! He went and got me a pear cider out of the fridge and left me alone. The perfect husband. Unfortunately we haven’t perfected cloning an adult human male.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Which reminds me — thanks, Cynthia, for your thoughtful comment on “Imagination & Visualization” about your child’s imagination play. Apart from my grandkids who are still really small, I’m pretty far out of the loop on current child-rearing. My personal experiences are mostly 30 years out of date! Perhaps that’s why other kids look at me funny when I try to start a conversation with them? “Who is that weird lady and why is she talking to me?” I didn’t think my kid-skills were that far gone but maybe I need a refresher course.
So I think I need to start a 12-step program for Startitis. I just got my Icelandic Lace Shawl cast on and a few rows done on it today. I needed another project like a hole in the head! I already have (in no particular order) the Crosshatch Socks, which are at this stage:
The Darling-Daughter-Dyed Socks (aka DDD Socks), which so far look like this:
Isn’t that yarn gorgeous? I love the way the red bits pool. Couldn’t have planned that to come out exactly if we tried! The Circus Blanket, which is sitting on the loom with only 1/6th woven. The Hepburn Cardi which is stuck on Sleeve Island. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if that was all that was left to knit, but I started on the sleeves! And we won’t even talk about any other UFOs that I can’t see. (The visual version of “la-la-la” with hands on ears.) Meanwhile the dust bunnies are getting serious attitudes, the garden needs watering (it’s been hot and dry – yay!) and the bed needs changing and the laundry done. Between one thing and another I’ve managed to zip through the last few days without noticing until T-Man shows up home from work. He’s starting to think that I leap into action when he gets home, trying to look like I’ve been working hard all day while I was really sitting around knitting and reading. Ummm…he could be right. And he’ll be home soon. With me still on the computer. Knitting on the shawl. Erp!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Meanwhile I squeezed in a little spinning and got the last two yarns finished for the Icelandic Lace Shawl. This one is the same Polwarth as the orange except that I dyed it denim blue:
And this one is another one of the Ashland Bay merino colour mixes called Baltic, with blues, yellow-green and a smidgen of red:
And here’s the whole family, together at last:
Now I have to wind them all into balls and get started knitting! Unfortunately the vacuuming is calling me first. After all the outside work, the inside of the house has been sadly ignored. The dust bunnies are attacking my legs as I walk by. I also have to pack up my teaching supplies for Baby Spinning Lesson 2: Plying this evening. The weather is absolutely gorgeous so I would much rather just sit on the deck and knit. It’s not going to stay this way for long and I should enjoy it while I can. We’ll find out whether housework wins over knitting.
In other crafty news, I’m cruising down the feet on the Crosshatch Socks. It was daughter-in-law’s birthday last Saturday so I’m running late. (I know, so what else is new?) It would be nice if I could finish before next Sunday when I have to babysit the grandkids because that’s the next time I’ll see her. Not holding my breath though. And the socks that Darling Daughter dyed the yarn for are heading down to the heel flaps. I guess I just can’t go without some plain knitting to do no matter what else in on the needles. It’s not like the other things aren’t getting done as well, but I’m not just sitting and reading with my hands empty. These socks are really pretty so I hope to get a photo soon.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I really wonder how the kind of constant visual input that kids get these days (TV, videos, toys that move and “talk” by themselves) affects their imagination and visualization skills. In “the olden days” kids had to use their imaginations to create toys for themselves out of the things of everyday life. Storytelling was one person speaking to others directly and making up the words on the spot. Books didn’t have many pictures and photographs may not even have existed. No big corporations marketing directly to little ones and creating future shoppers hungry for popular labels and the latest hot items…oops. Sorry. I digress. My point is: do you think kids are better at using their imaginations these days or not? Or maybe they are just the same as kids have always been?
I remember as a little girl in the 1950’s making dolls out of flowers, twigs and acorns and houses for them out of discarded ceramic tiles. My generation is also the first one to have had television in our childhood years. My 3-year-old granddaughter has her own videos and knows how to use the remote. She’s actually more in control of what she watches than we were. We still play house together and pretend to drink tea with her dolls. Different and yet not so different. Just some thoughts from Damselfly’s wandering brain this Sunday morning. T-Man is off to his woodturning symposium’s final day so it’s rather quiet around here. More like a weekday than a weekend. But he’s off for 2 more days so it’s back to the cement-mixing tomorrow. Gotta make concrete cobblestones while the sun shines!
Yes, I have been doing something besides imagining! I cut the innersoles from the felt I made yesterday:
I used my Birkenstocks for a pattern which worked quite well. I also decided to stitch (with wool left from the slippers) an extra thickness for a bit of support for my arches. I cut them from the felt’s corners where it thinned out making a smoother transition at the inside away from the edge. Before I closed up the seam, I tucked an extra smaller piece inside to contour the arch support higher at the edge where I decided I need extra thickness. I’ll put them into the slippers with the seam side down so I won’t feel it under my foot. There’s still a piece of felt left so I’ll hang onto that in case I need to add anything more in the future. The last time I made felted slippers I needed to add more thickness to the heel as it compressed and wore down. I’m now quite happy with these slippers and they should take me through at least a couple of winters with warm tootsies.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I wet the quilted wool down with hot soapy water and a sponge until it was all wetted out and then rolled it in the bubble wrap with a piece of foam pool noodle in the centre. The sausage was secured with rubber bands because I was lacking strips of nylon stocking which would have been better. After most of the excess water was squeezed out, I rolled it back and forth on the table with my forearms for awhile and then opened up the package, turned the quilt a quarter turn and re-rolled. Even though I was using the weight of my body to help, I quickly got sore (the old pinched nerve in my neck) so I used my feet for a bit. Everyone else was still working on felting scarves using merino/tencel or merino/tussah silk fibres, so I sat and chatted and knit for awhile to rest my neck and my foot. My neck only hurts when I press down too much which is exactly how I damaged the vertebrae 3-1/2 years ago. Knitting doesn’t usually bother me unless I really overdo it and then it’s mostly my wrists that get sore. What a wreck!
After I got home I decided the felt was secure enough by now that it wouldn’t fall apart so I removed the stitching and nylon net and started rubbing the piece on my old washboard. That was the most fun because I could feel the felt hardening under my hands. When it was as solid as possible, I rinsed it in alternating hot and cold water to get out the soap and remaining wool grease. There was quite a bit of grease left in this stuff. Coarse and greasy and a dark grey that’s hard to dye over into nice colours. Lovely wool, eh? Ten pounds worth originally. No wonder it was a gift! I certainly wouldn’t have bought it myself. At least it felts eventually.
Now I had a thick piece of felt that was several inches smaller than the original mini-quilt. It’s still big enough to cut two innersoles out of it. It’s somewhat hairy but good and solid. Too boring in grey though so I poured some dye stock over it and ran it through the microwave to set the dyes. It’s much prettier now in purples and blues:
Not the right purples and blues, mind you but at least it’s not dark grey any more. I’ll cut it into innersoles to put inside my slippers where nobody but me will ever see them. Of course I could have bought some innersoles for a few dollars but where’s the magic in that?
Be aware that I can’t easily reply to comments left on my blog unless I already have your email address or I reply directly in another comment (which I'm not sure anyone reads). Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate every single word though! So to Diane who left me a comment about the Sock Toe Grafting Tutorial, you’re welcome. Glad you found it helpful. Susan, glad you’re all safely moved to your new home. Hope you find your way out of Boxed Hell soon. Rosemary, I always appreciate your thoughts. Sharon, sorry to disappoint you about the new Twisted Sisters book. I still haven’t had time to read it through yet so hopefully I’ll be posting more eventually. Hope the rest of your books you ordered meet your expectations. Surprisingly, I don’t own any of them! You’ll have to review them for me. And Chelle and N Maria, you two are just so darned sweet! I’ve left out a few names from recent comments but you know who you are. I always say I write this here blog for my own amusement but it’s really nice to share with those who care to read it. HUGS!
Friday, September 07, 2007
I’ve also noticed that it’s the same thing with craft classes as it is with books: Level 1 has many options and there might be a Level 2 offered occasionally, but forget it if you are beyond those early levels. The reasoning is sound: vastly larger numbers sign up for the beginner level and less for each subsequent level because either they feel they don’t need further formal instruction or they decide the subject is not for them. Unless you are able to attend a rare “master class” (and that usually means travel and greater expense) you are on your own if you want to advance further. Learning on your own is good if you have the ability and discipline necessary but not if you need the more one-t0-one and hands-on help of a live instructor. At least the Internet has some great useful resources especially since video is more popular now. Also there are DVDs such as the several series by Lucy Neatby. You can’t normally stop the teacher and make her do it over and over until you get it! I was pondering this subject while I was teaching what well may be my last class of baby spinners on Wednesday evening. And it’s a great class so I’m feeling fine about being there. It’s not the students fault — I’ve just lost my teaching mojo. I’m retiring. Heh! We’ll see how long it lasts. Yes, there is another instructor (an old acquaintance) in the wings to take over from me.
Hey, did you know that yarns, like clothing, are larger by stated size than they were in the past? Baby yarn was closer to laceweight, fingering was finer than today’s common sock yarn and worsted weight was considered really heavy and usually only used for outerwear. Most sweaters were knit in sport weight or finer and were quite closely fitted. Bulky weight came about more recently to satisfy the knitters who wanted to complete articles quickly. Clothing styles were oversized to compensate for the extra bulk, thus somewhat defeating the speed factor! Another way to reduce bulk is to make lots of holes, such as Doris Chan’s “exploded lace crochet.” But the garments that get worn and loved and don’t go immediately out of style are usually finer gauge and gently fitted. There seems to be more of this type of design recently, which is a trend I’d like to encourage.
So did the knitters of the past worry about finding the exact yarn for their pattern or even use patterns at all? Were they able to adjust their knitting to fit their body shape? Did they complain about “sleeve island” as they knitted into the home stretch of their sweater? They certainly didn’t have today’s plethora of wonderful yarns in every conceivable fibre (and some you might never even have thought of) and a jillion lovely colours, variegateds and handpaints. Yarn choices were much simpler then so it was easier to gain experience with a single yarn that you could use in future projects. I do that with common sock yarns and don’t swatch any more, just dive in with the usual number of stitches. And people didn’t have as many clothes as most of us, even the less affluent, do today nor did fashions change drastically every season. They expected garments to last more than a few months, perhaps as long as a decade with care. What a concept! Might be easier on the environment if not on the general economy. Of course if you think the current styles are really unflattering, you might want them to change!
Speaking of fashions old and new, today I got this book which I’d been waiting for:
The Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters: A Knit-to-Fit Workshop by Lynne Vogel. I haven’t read it from cover to cover yet, but I have to say it’s not as dazzling to me as Twisted Sister’s first book on socks (which, contrary to the title is actually a great tutorial on dyeing and spinning rovings). The sweaters are pretty much all the T-shaped variety, without fitted armholes and sleeve caps and there's no dyeing or spinning information at all. The styles look bulky and somewhat dated to me. I used to make similar sweaters with drop shoulders or batwings back in the ’70’s and ’80’s but now prefer something that doesn’t bunch up under my armpits and that skims the body while somewhat defining what passes for my waist. All the styles in here are loosely fitted and straight-sided. “Knit-to-fit” obviously doesn’t mean fitting the body closely by Lynne’s definition. The patterns are actually guides giving you a chart in which to insert your own numbers to achieve your sweater. Question: is this oversized fit coming back into fashion or is this just an easy style to work with in learning how to design with your handspun or other chosen yarn? My favourite, the cover sweater (the model is actually sized for a child) is a hint of the fun things you can really do with handspun and there are some more delightful inspirational sweaters (but very minimal instruction) in the gallery section. Now I’m going to have to read the book more carefully to see what gems are contained in the text — as opposed to just looking at the pictures! I’ll let you know if it improves my initial feelings about this book. Or not.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Today I’m still trying to rest the sore foot before I have to go teach my last spinning class this evening. It’s getting better slowly and I’m not limping as much but I don’t want to stress it too much. I know won’t be able to help running around the class and standing the whole two hours. So meanwhile I wound the yarn my daughter dyed for herself on Sunday into balls and am starting on her socks.
I know, I know. I shouldn’t be starting yet another project. This is just so I can have a plain knitting project to work on because I’m getting way behind on my email reading! I won’t yet start the daughter-sized Tulip Socks that I was going to make for her birthday so she will have these ones first. While I’m at it, here’s the yarn I dyed for the next pair of T-Man socks.
I was a bit annoyed because one skein got really dark spots on the relatively light denim colour with hints of green and purple. If both skeins had got spotted, at least they would coordinate but it’s only on one. Boo-hoo. But T says he doesn’t really mind. If it looks too horrible I can always overdye the finished socks in a dark colour but that would mean losing the lovely soft colours that I have now. Obviously I didn’t pay enough attention to what I was doing. The dye stock probably didn’t get stirred up enough. That was the only thing I got done Sunday for myself because I was too busy helping everybody else. And gimping around on my taped-up foot.
Now I’m up to the heel turns on the Crosshatch Socks. They aren’t going to make it for my daughter-in-law’s birthday which is this Saturday, but likely I won’t be seeing her until we babysit for them while they go to a wedding on the 16th. That gives me an extra week to finish up. Maybe.
So I’ve still got a skein and a half left to spin for the Icelandic Lace Shawl project. As usual I’m running behind on the KAL which started in earnest on Monday. Oh well. What can you do? It’s the process that counts and it’s not a race, is it? I hope to work on the spinning a bit this afternoon. Luckily my sore foot is the left one and not the one I usually treadle with. Tori works ok with only my right foot instead of both. Weaving on the Circus Blanket is out right now however. I press the treadles exactly where it hurts on my foot. Maybe that’s part of how I overused it, not just walking a gazillion miles? But who knows? I’ve had this problem several times since I was a teenager which was a very long time ago now. (And funny thing — the first time happened after walking a gazillion miles too!) There’s obviously a weakness there anyhow. How does one engineer better feet? I only wear sensible shoes with good support. And I do exercises and get massages for them, plus keep my nails trimmed and rough skin removed. (No nail polish though. I don't do nail polish.) My feets are totally spoiled and yet they betray me. How dare they! Ungrateful wretches.
Monday, September 03, 2007
While we were walking, we came upon a section of the seawall where a fellow has spent two weeks balancing rocks into stacks and arches. (Here’s the article in the local paper that I read when I got home.) This time I had my camera with me:
There was lots more and some was much more elaborate. It went on for quite a ways along the shore but I was afraid to get down among the rocks in case I knocked something over. I would feel bad and the builder was right there watching over it all! There’s information online here about the art or meditation of stacking rocks and another one here. The Japanese term for a deliberate pile of rocks like this is an “obos.” I first read about this in one of Robert Genn’s email letters and there’s more info here. In Mongolia they have a more religious purpose as well as marking directions. They call them an “ovoo” (rock heap) which is pretty similar to the Japanese word. But the Mongolians add sticks and prayer flags to the piles which can get really large. Of course here in Vancouver where we’re feverishly building the facilities for the 2010 Olympics and the chosen “mascot” is an inukshuk, that’s what everyone is calling the ones we saw, though in my opinion they have no relationship to a real Inuit inukshuk. (And the controversial Olympic mascot, named Ilaanaq, looks more like a cross between Pac-Man and Gumby! Though it’s supposed to be based on the one that’s been at one end of English Bay beach for over 20 years.) I find it fascinating that it is so much a part of human nature to stack rocks on top of each other in this way. Not just to mark the trail, like the cairns we found in Capitol Reef in Utah, but also just because you can. Some people develop it into an art form, sport, meditation, worship or all of the above. There’s even a stack in our own back yard! T-Man made it with some white quartz rocks but it keeps getting knocked down by squirrels or other critters. He says he’s going to glue it together one of these days but I think that’s kind of cheating. Heh!
Unfortunately on the way home, my left foot started to hurt and by the time I got home it was really sore. Not quite the return of the nasty plantar fasciitis but a little farther forward under my arch. We probably should have taken the bus home but once you’re in the middle of the Cambie Bridge there’s nowhere to go but onward and upward. I taped my foot up yesterday but I wasn’t able to stay off it because we had a Dye Day in the studio with my darling daughter and her friend. I also invited my friend Jo to play too and we had a busy but fun day dyeing skeins and rovings and a pair of Jo’s linen pants which are now a lovely shade of greenish gold instead of boring old white. Of course I get to knit darling daughter’s sock yarn into socks for her. Lucky me! Another pair of socks to add to The Queue. They’ll probably get done fairly soon because I’m going to knit them plain. She did massage my sore foot though so I forgive her for forgetting to pay me for the dyes and yarn. I’ll get it at her birthday party in a couple of weeks. No money, no prezzies! Am I a mean mom or what.
Today I’m doing my best to stay off the foot and it’s feeling quite a bit better. At least I’m not limping quite so much. I’m hoping it’s mending quick because tomorrow I have to go help our other kid clean up their townhouse preparatory to putting it on the market. They’ve put in an offer on a detached house with a real yard for the kids and they have to get as much as possible for their current place to be able to afford the new one. Unfortunately they only have a few days to clean up the mess that has managed to accumulate over several years and with two little kids. They’ve rounded up the family members to help but it’s a big job that none of us really want to get into. I’ve pleaded sore foot today but it’s hard to say no when your baby boy…er, grown son asks for help. Particularly after he damaged his hand and x-rays showed he very nearly broke a bone in it at ninjutsu practice so he’s in worse shape than I am. T’s over there now seeing what tools and equipment are needed and I’ll go with him tomorrow. This isn’t quite how he expected to spend his precious week off though. This isn’t getting the paving project done before the weather gets too crappy either. Timing is everything, eh? Oh well, it’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow morning anyway. Oh, funny thing! It’s raining right now.