Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quietly In The Rain

It’s been dumping down rain on us for several days in a row. Classic November weather which we haven’t really seen much of up until now. Unfortunately the house next door has been having problems with the sump pump not working. The poor downstairs tenants have had some water in their apartment and right now there’s a hose going out to the back alley with a temporary pump in place to keep them dry. Not good. I knew that house was going to have problems. Remember when I watched the entire renovation process? Corners were cut that are now coming back to haunt the new owners. It’s really unfortunate. I had hoped the building inspectors would have caught most of the problems but I guess some things aren’t immediately obvious. My little old house, on the other hand, is managing our inclement November weather quite nicely with our new roof on. No leaks anyplace…she says carefully, touching wood.

I’ve just started my seasonal “un-shopping” and will be staying away from the stores as much as possible until, oh, sometime in January. Masses of crazed shoppers combined with lousy wet dark weather is not my idea of a good time. I may have to get groceries occasionally though so it’s not like I can hunker down and never venture out at all. However, it will be on foot and close to home unless the weather cooperates enough to allow a longer walk. The elliptical trainer will get a workout in the meantime.

So the crafty stuff is still ongoing as always. I’m halfway through the first pair of Frankensocks and plan to go right onto the second pair the minute they’re done. I have been very bad and haven’t done much more with my art journaling. I’m kind of waiting for the rest of my study group when we start the lessons in January. Yup, that’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it. As far as making it a daily habit – not so much. I doubt that I will ever get into that kind of art-making every day. I never could keep any kind of journal at all until I started blogging. Somehow this has engaged me on at least a semi-daily basis where nothing else did. The exercises that we got in Sharon’s class look to be great fun though. I don’t think I’ve quite figured out how to turn them into the kind of crafts that I prefer to do. Maybe after I’ve really played with the ideas for awhile. Right now I seem to have enough things to keep me occupied.

I did play with an online program called The Scribbler. It's really fun but I'm not sure what to do with the pictures after you've made them. You have to use PrintScreen or something like the screen capture in Paint Shop Pro to bring the images into your computer since there is no print function. In the first image I drew a simple leaf shape. In the second I paused the scribble and added another outline around the first one. Kinda interesting, no?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Smell

Not really stinky though. Like rosemary, actually. I spent a few minutes out in the garden yesterday picking what’s likely the last of the coreopsis flowers for this year. I now have enough for another small dye bath if I can’t wait until next summer for more. While I was at it, I plucked the stray chestnut leaves out of the branches of the rosemary bush in my herb patch. I think I got some of the oil on my fleece shirt because I can still smell it today. We’re lucky here that we don’t have to bring my rosemary inside in winter although sometimes we lose a branch or two to frost and one exceptionally cold winter I lost an entire 3-foot plant so it can be a bit dicey at times. My rosemary is just beginning to bloom on a couple of the branches, though mine never really has huge numbers of flowers. I can see why it’s latin name, Rosemarinus, means “dew of the sea” however because it looks like it’s splashed with pretty blue drops the colour of my grandson’s eyes. As the “herb of remembrance” I hope the bracing odour will help my little brain!

Now that I’ve had a chance to try on my now-dry Earthly Beret, I can say that it fits really well and looks quite cute. I would be starting on the fingerless gloves to match but I already cast on the Frankensocks for Stargazer. Plus the Seaweed Shawl is still stuck in the middle of the blossoms section. I can’t have too many projects going at once or I feel like nothing ever gets finished! Besides I want to incorporate some of the lace pattern from the hat into the gloves so that will need some work in Knit Visualizer. That’s the kind of design work I enjoy.

Speaking of knitting design, I thought I might review “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns” now that I’ve had a chance to read it – apart from the many many columns of numbers, that is. This book from Interweave is a follow-up to Ann Budd’s wonderful “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns” which featured socks, hats, gloves, mitts, scarves and sweaters rendered in a unique chart format. You work a gauge swatch and match your gauge to the size garment you want and follow the numbers to complete it. While you’re at it you can choose different options in various areas to make your particular garment unique. In this book, Ann revises and expands on the sweater and gives you a lot more options to personalize it than in the first book. She includes chapters on drop-shoulder, modified drop-shoulder, saddle shoulder, raglan and circular yoked sweaters. Sizes range from a finished circumference of 26” to 54” in 2-inch intervals which should fit most people, small or large, children, women or men. Gauges are 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 stitches per inch and Ann recommends that if your gauge comes in between you will need to adjust needles or yarn to get one of those numbers exactly. All through the book there are tips and schematics and options to choose from plus 18 complete sample sweater patterns called Copy Cats.

I like the format of both of Ann's books. They are hardcover with an internal metal coil binding so the book lies flat. There's even a pocket in the back to keep notes. An elastic built into the back cover comes around to keep the book closed in your knitting bag or you could use it to keep your place if necessary. I use it differently than that myself - I copy the pages I need (scanner or photocopier) and highlight the columns of figures for the size I'm knitting, adding notes on changes where necessary. That way I don't get confused or mark up my book.

Where this book really shines is the ability to create your own sweater design with Ann having done the hard math stuff for you. Just pick a style, plug in a pattern stitch if you want, choose detail options (neckline, collar, front opening, button band etc.) and start knitting. This book is a perfect place to start if you are new to designing but have some ideas to explore, have handspun or other special yarn without a suitable pattern, want to knit for someone and only know their chest size or just want a relatively simple sweater without digging through a gazillion patterns to find something similar. Know that these are relatively loose-fitting sweaters with no waist shaping or bust adjustments so if you like your garments more curvy, you’re going to have to do a bit more math yourself. However Ann does cover how to do basic waist shaping though not bust. (There are other resources for that. Knitty covered a lot more tricky shaping stuff here. And Sandi did a great job on Knitting Daily, links to some posts are here.) But I think Ann covers just about anything else you might need to know to make a great-fitting sweater for anyone! Go forth and knit one.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Winter's Happy Hat

I plied the needles pretty hard on this in the last couple of days and finally finished it.

Earthly Beret

Earthly Beret done

For: Me
Begun: November 19, 2008
Completed: November 26, 2008

Yarn: Rabbit Ridge Designs Sock Yarn, 425 yds = 100g, .5 skein “Earth”.
Needles: 2.75 mm bamboo dpns (centre), 2.75 mm 25” Aero circ (body), 2 mm 24” Aero circ (ribbing)
Pattern: Springtime In Philadelphia by Kate Gagnon. (Free pattern PDF available here. Ravelry link here.)
Mods: None except yarn choice.

Comments: I used my Birthday Yarn from T’s mom. Turned out very nice after I inadvertently used the wrong needle size the first time and got halfway into it without realizing it was too small. I started over with a crochet (Emily Ocker) beginning and bamboo dpns and when it got big enough, moving to an old Aero aluminum circ in a modified magic loop method. When it got large enough I didn’t need to use the magic loop thing at all. I even found another vintage Aero aluminum needle in size 2mm to finish the ribbing.

I blocked the finished and wet beret on a 10” dinner plate suspended on a jar. The colours of the yarn are not totally me but I like this bright and cheery addition to my winter! There’s enough yarn left for coordinating fingerless gloves which I will get to shortly.

Next I’m casting on the yucky and extremely knotty ball of On Your Toes sock yarn for a couple of pairs of Frankensocks for Stargazer. If I can get 2 fraternal pairs out of this his mom won’t worry about having to match them up. I had the chance to measure the slippery little guy’s feet yesterday so I’ve got a pretty good idea how big to make them this time. He didn’t want me to take off his shoe for some reason and then he curled up his toes so it was no easy task! He’s usually pretty easygoing but yesterday he was somewhat grouchy. He missed his nap because he was woken up by the noisy garbage truck as he was being carried into the house. There’s no way he’ll go back to sleep when he could be playing with his Granny & Grampa. We, on the other hand, would prefer to play with a happy little guy who’s caught up on his sleep!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Bundle of Lumber & String Transformed

Milady Daughter now has a new (to her) loom. And it works, thanks to our (me, her dad and her) hard work! As I mentioned back at the beginning of this month, a woman in her weavers & spinners guild had an older Glimakra loom that originally came from an estate sale. Rumour has it that she never was able to get it working properly which is too bad. For her anyway. For Mil-D, who just happens to have me for her mom, it was a lovely gift. It took two Sunday afternoons to find all the appropriate parts in the pile, fiddle with a gazillion pieces of Texolv string (none of which were exactly the right length for what we needed) and get the thing assembled as an 8-shaft 10 treadle countermarch loom. We wound a teeny quick warp of just over 2 yards and 16 ends of horrid white acrylic knitting yarn just to dress the loom to see if everything worked ok. Countermarch looms won’t work without a warp on. Unfortunately I only had time to tie up 2 treadles for plain weave so the whole shaft assembly sank alarmingly when we pulled out the locking pins. It needs the weight of more of the treadles to hold it at the proper level. But I was able to get good sheds anyway and wove a few picks to make sure.

I’m sorry I forgot my camera. It would have been nice to have the evidence! We did discover that we had the beater assembly on backwards. Apparently the logo goes where you can see it? Who knew? But that can be easily fixed when it’s not warped up. More Texolv needs to be threaded onto the rest of the treadles and pegged up. Otherwise, she’s good to go! Her dad brought home her warping board to mend a broken peg and I brought home my 4-shaft table loom, not that I need it currently but it gets it out of her way. I have more storage space in my little old house than she does in her more modern 3-bedroom condo. I do love that my daughter has inherited my love of all things fibery – and she has the stash to prove it too.

While we were visiting, we also worked on her lace knitting lessons. She started a small scarf (Branching Out from Knitty) in her fine handspun camel/wool singles and had ripped it out several times as she got used to working the pattern. Her grandmother’s vintage plastic straight needles just weren’t pointy enough and the long length made it hard to work on the way to work on public transit. So I picked her up an Addi Lace circular and she began again. Much better now! It’s a testament to her excellent spinning that the yarn was still intact after all that knitting and frogging. And speaking of frogging, I was working on the second version of the Earthly Beret and now am more than halfway through the chart. It’s looking like this:

Earthly Beret progress

Kind of resembles a lumpy bag of string, doesn’t it? But I think it’s coming out ok this time. Mil-D said that she thought the colours her Nana picked out for my birthday yarn weren’t quite me, but that’s because it’s somebody else’s dyeing job. I think it’s quite special since Nana brought it back for me all the way from Alaska. And it will certainly brighten up the drab winter days when I wear it.

Speaking of wooly things, this last weekend I unearthed several of my handspun hand-knit vests, 2 cardigans (one woven) and a beret plus a couple of newer pairs of gloves knit from sock yarn and gave them all a much-needed bath. I would have washed more wooly things but I ran out of places to dry them flat. It’s fun to check out my handspinning circa 1980’s vintage and contrast that with what I can produce now. One item, a colourful cardigan knit sideways with a shawl collar and button-on-off sleeves (so you can wear it as a vest as well) is a favourite garment that not only still fits me but oddly still gets compliments.

It was knit from a commercial pattern about 25 years ago but nobody believes how ancient it really is. The many buttons are porcelain and made by Ontario artisan Esther Grav, who no longer works in this medium (but sells yarns and equipment instead under the business name What’s Weft). They cost me a mint but they were worth it for the rustic effect. The yarn is local Romney wool dyed in acid dyes and the spinning is nothing to write home about, being somewhat inconsistent and with some yarns more loosely plied than others. The side-to-side knitting gives it a bit of drape and the illusion of being more fitted than the rectangular-shaped thing it really is. And I love all the seed stitch especially on the collar. Amazing the longevity of this sweater though, don’t you agree? I usually wear it as a vest without the sleeves.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Denial Ain't Just A River In Egypt

Apparently knitters have an aptitude for denial. In my case it was the Earthly Beret I was knitting on in the last couple of days. I got about halfway along the chart and realized there was no way that thing was going to fit even my small head. Nowhere near the correct gauge. No, of course I didn’t do a gauge swatch! Why do you ask? I just rechecked the pattern notes. Hmmm…I can’t tell a 2.25 mm needle which is what I used from a 2.75 mm needle which is what it was supposed to be. 2’s look just like 7’s don’t they? Almost?

Anyhow I bit the bullet and pulled out what I had done, rewound the ball, located some 2.75 mm bamboo dpns (because I don’t have that size in Addi Lace circs and I don’t feel like walking back up to the LYS to get yet another $20 needle right this minute) and started over. For some reason things always proceed faster the second time around. I’m not back to where I left off of course but I am already up to round 17. It’s the process that counts, right? I’m getting a lot more process out of doing it all over again. And there’s still no photo. Or a tutorial on the modified magic loop because I’m not using it. Can’t until I get the right-sized needle. Oh wait - I have an ancient Aero circ that might do the trick. Will test it out.

Meanwhile I’ve been lazing around still but feeling a bit better today. I have a disaster’s worth of kitchen to clean up. Perhaps I forgot to leave out a saucer of cream for the brownie, annoyed our domovoy with a careless profanity or maybe I accidentally gave some article of clothing to my house elf. Dunno but somehow there’s a mess to clean up. And the maid took the day off too. Sigh. Better get to it before the grandkids show up. We’re supposed to be babysitting them while their parents go to a party this evening.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the Thanksgiving cactus that I adopted from Auntie90’s house:

It’s quite glorious in full flower! I know some people call these Christmas cactuses but they are somewhat different. Note the pointy edges on the leaves and the upward-facing flowers. I have the other type, the real Christmas cactus, and they have scalloped-edged leaves (not pointy) and the flowers are straight. They are later blooming and currently mine are still at the bud stage.

And here’s the lovely rainbow from Thursday afternoon:

Don’t see a pot of gold anywhere but that birch tree across the street is beautifully golden right now. Particularly in the slanting sunlight.

Friday, November 21, 2008

FO Friday

Well, I was out most of the day yesterday. In order to have a ride to and from my weavers’ guild meeting I had to leave crack-o-dawn early and sit through not one but three meetings, 2 of which were business/organizing ones. The result of just being there meant that I had to say “no” not once but three times to proposals that I should take on something. I’m getting good at saying no. I’m proud of me! At least while I was at it I managed to get about 4 or 5 rows knitted on the Seaweed Shawl. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but it takes upwards of half-an-hour per row. Plus I was hauling chairs and tables, chatting and visiting the guild library as well as sittin’ knittin’.

Today I’ve somehow slipped back into feeling yukky – sore throat, stuffy sinuses and a few sniffles – I’m getting very annoyed with this state of affairs. I’ve been trying to ignore it but the sore throat just never quite goes away. And no, I haven’t yet made a doctor’s appointment. Every time I get fed up enough to ponder that, it clears up just enough to make me change my mind. Besides, I’ve mentioned it to him the last couple of times I’ve seen him and didn’t get much of an answer. I think both of us keep expecting it to go away by itself. But it never really does. He thinks it’s just allergies or something but I’m darned sure it’s some kind of infection that waxes and wanes according to how revved up (or not) my immune system is feeling. I haven’t yet convinced him that it’s anything to be concerned about because every time I see him it’s much better than it was. I hate to waste both of our time but I’m giving it until Monday or else. Remind me if I forget and let it go again.

And speaking of health matters, did I mention that the bruise in my mouth from the dental hygienist’s errant scraper has appeared on the outside of my chin? Hurts much less but shows more. Looks like I forgot to wash my face. Oh, and T-Man got his first flu shot. Wish me luck in NOT catching it. That’s all I don’t need.

Finally, here’s the latest FO:

Purple Ruffles Socks

Purple Ruffles Socks

Made For: Princess Pink
Begun: October 24, 2008
Completed: November 18, 2008

Pattern: Double Lace Ribbing by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare - Superwash Merino/Nylon Fingering Weight, .4 of a skein (left over from Purple Passion Socks), 180 yds approx., hand-dyed purples/pinks in acid dyes, low-water immersion technique. Purchased from Knit Picks.
Needles: Clover Takumi 5”, 2.0 mm

Notes: Similar to the Purple Passion Socks for La Violette (my sister-in-law). I added a ruffle on the top (cast on 108 sts), worked 4 rows of k2/p1 ribbing after the dec round and then into the pattern stitch for 7 repeats. These were knit on 54 sts to the heel flap. Flap on 26 sts (28 for instep), gusset reduced to 14 sts each needle (56 sts total), foot 5”, dec to 24 sts, dog-ear reduction, graft toe. Finished foot length: 6.5”.

I nearly ran out of yarn and had to join the last bit of one ball to the other sock to finish the toe. They’re really cute! Hope they last her for a little while at least.

Since I finally finished two projects in fairly short order, I decided to cast on for the Springtime in Philadelphia Beret. I’m calling it the Earthly Beret after the name of the yarn I’m using which is named the “Earth” colourway, though it’s not that earthy to me since it’s kind of a slightly muted but still Koolaid-ish palette of pinks, orange, yellow, green and blue. I need a real bit of light to photograph the hat’s beginning and it’s pretty dim today. Suffice it to say that it’s not a difficult knit even though there’s a rather large chart involved.

I started with dpns and the crocheted Emily Ocker cast on (tutorial here). Eventually when I thought it was big enough, I switched to an Addi Lace circ using a modified magic-loop technique. Addi Lace needles don’t come in 16” lengths and all I have are 24” (being the most handy size), hence the modified technique. Although I’m sure others have figured this out also, all I could find about it online was a bad video that really doesn’t explain anything. Basically, you push up your stitches on the left-hand needle to the tip and pull out a length of cable on the right-hand needle and use it to knit with until things get tight (I can get in at least a couple of inches worth of stitches). Then pull the tip of the right needle until you pull out the cable again. The “magic loop” forms on the right as you start to knit the stitches off the left needle, forming naturally as you work so you don’t have to poke between stitches to pull the cable out manually. Advantages are that you can use a cable that is too short for regular magic loop but still too long for the stitches to go around completely and the placement of the loop changes constantly and automatically thus avoiding any obvious “ladders” in your knitting. I find it much faster and easier to do. Even though you need to draw the cable out more often, it’s just a quick yank without concern that you’re going to lose anything! You do need a stitch marker to know where the rounds begin of course. Perhaps I’ll do a photo tutorial some time because I can’t find one out there.

So that’s two projects on the needles but neither of them are exactly TV-watching types. I need a simple pair of socks. I started winding a ball of On Your Toes sock yarn into 2 balls to start a pair for The Ninja but there were 6 – count ‘em – SIX knots in the one 100g ball plus another really crappy join that wasn’t exactly a knot but close. So I decided that this yarn will be lucky to become a couple of pairs of Frankensocks (aka non-matching) for Stargazer instead, who will likely grow out of them before they have a chance to self-destruct any further. Now I either need to start them or find another suitable ball of yarn for his daddy. Sigh. I’ve used several balls of this yarn before and never had a problem with knots. This one sure beats all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts On A Sunny November Day

I was reading on somebody’s blog or other about staying “on topic” to keep one’s readers happy. I never thought about this blogging thing as being more for my readers than for me! Not to say that I’m not happy that I have readers: a few commenters and a passel o’ sneaky petes who regularly lurk – I love you all. However I mostly write this blog for my own personal pleasure, to document and show off my FOs, and to kind of think “out loud”. (Though it’s words on a screen, but you know what I mean.) I don’t feel that I need to have separate blogs for each interest like some people do. That would be an awful lot of blogs and I know I wouldn’t be able to keep track of what should go where. It would drive me nuts right quick! My craft stuff is totally integrated into my lifestyle and I don’t separate it out into neat wedges of time or space so why should I do it on my blog? This is not an apology but a clarification. Just so you know why I’m always all over the proverbial map, fluttering around on my little damselfly wings. Heh.

So have you seen the online knitting magazine Twist Collective? The second issue, Winter ’08, just came out recently. This one is a little different. Not completely free like Knitty nor mostly subscription-based like KnitNet (which seems to have not been updated since last spring – toast?). But you can peruse the content, read the articles and then choose patterns individually and pay for them. That way the designers actually get paid by the popularity of their pattern. An interesting concept although I haven’t succumbed to any of the lovely designs yet. I’ve got too many other things to keep my needles busy. It would have to be really compelling and I’d have to want to knit it Right Now to be bothered to purchase an individual pattern that way.

Another online knitting magazine (free) is PopKnits. This one has a vintage feel and the second issue will be out Dec 1. In the first issue I love Lia Liang’s Gossamer Garden Stole and may just make it one day. Not soon perhaps but I’ve got it stored on my computer for later consideration, something you can’t do with Twist Collective patterns.

One more newer free online mag is Knotions. The winter issue is now out after it was delayed due to some technical problem or other. has some nice designs, including lots of socks and other accessories. The technical articles and reviews are really helpful. One thing I like is the Ravelry link on each pattern that shows how many have already been cast on!

So as not to leave out the crocheters there’s the new Crochet Uncut, the official unofficial magazine of the Crochet Liberation Front. It’s available both online and in a downloadable PDF. There’s only been one issue so far.

And don’t forget that Spindlicity is back. And the British online mag, The Inside Loop is up to issue 3 now. These ought to keep you reading and knitting and crocheting for awhile!

I did have some other stuff to talk about but this post kind of got away on me. Just for a photo, here’s the progress on the Seaweed Shawl so far.

Seaweed Shawl progress

It’s my blog and I can post what I want to, post what I want to, post what I want to. You should post too then you can blog you! (Apologies to Lesley Gore.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All The News That’s Fit To Print

Or not. Really it’s probably pretty boring. Have I not actually posted since last Thursday? Friday was so long ago now that I can’t even remember what I did. Where does the time go? And why did my mind follow it? Oh wait! I remember – we were going to go to the Circle Craft Christmas Market but instead we stayed home and raked leaves. Sounds really deadly boring but it was a whole lot of fun. Sometimes it’s your attitude that makes life worth living.

Ahem. Saturday we voted in the civic election. Last election until a provincial one next spring. Thank goodness! I’m so tired of people calling me to ask me how or if I’m going to vote. Enough’s enough already. Then we went to a party. It was a reunion for some of the folks T-Man worked with in a previous job and including a bunch that had also moved on to his current employer. It was so much fun that we didn’t get home until 2am. That’s the latest we’ve been able to remain awake in several years so we must have been having a good time! Judging by the slight hangover and the baggy eyes I had the next day after only 5 hours sleep, it was a definite success.

Sunday I went to our local Ravelry meetup at a local coffee shop. It was a big group this time and we ended up moving some furniture around to get enough seats together. I find it hard to get a chance to talk to everyone in that situation so I ended up chatting mostly with those sitting closest to me. It was an enjoyable bunch and it’s amazing how many different subjects we can discuss in a couple of hours time! After that it was off to visit our usual LYS for an extra whiff of yarn fumes. I bought a copy of Ann Budd’s “The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns” which I’ve been pondering for awhile. I’ve used her first book in the series many times for gloves and berets so I thought I would use this one for basic sweaters that can then be modified to suit. I probably could get it cheaper online but it’s nice to support a small local shop. I buys ’em where I finds ’em. Maybe I’ll give it a review when I get a chance to peruse it more carefully.

Yesterday T-Man had a day off so we went for a long walk to Granville Island and back. We window-shopped and stopped in at the Weaving Studio and both of Maiwa’s shops. We also had lunch with a seagull, a pigeon and a starling overlooking the water. They didn’t get to share our yummy chicken taco salads though. We shopped in the Market for fresh fruit and veggies and tandoori chicken to take home to bake for dinner. Then we carried on up to Broadway to the magazine shop and along to Steeps, our favourite tea shop for Market Spice tea and then finally on home after buying a few more groceries at Capers. We were both tired when we got home so we sat out on our deck with hand-brewed pear cider (me) and beer (him) until the sun started to set. It was a lovely day out and warm for this time of year.

This morning I finished the Purple Ruffles Socks for my granddaughter, Princess Pink. They’re nearly dry from their bath now after sitting out in today’s sunshine for awhile. I’ll be able to give them to her on Saturday when we’re supposed to be babysitting her and her little brother while their parents go to a party. Hope she likes her new socks. I almost ran out of the yarn but squeaked through to the end. I’ll do a proper post on them when I can get a photo.

I decided to end my suffering and bow out of the “weaving with beads” swap and accompanying article I was supposed to do for the beginning of next month. I just couldn’t drum up any excitement for the project and had no brilliant ideas to work with even though I’ve been pondering the question for several months now. I just have other things on my mind these days and weaving with beads isn’t a priority. If I’m going to weave, it’s going to be something I can use because so many of my household items are wearing out. My big loom still has the end of the tea towel warp still threaded so I can tie on a new warp. In beads, I’d kind of like a lariat necklace, either crocheted or kumihimo (faster). I love the one by Virginia Blakelock in the most recent issue of Bead & Button magazine. But it’s pretty far down on the list.

The only knitting on my needles now is the Seaweed Shawl in natural-dyed alpaca which I’m quite enjoying as a challenge to knit. I’m up to the second repeat of the blossom pattern and although the 3-into-9 stitch is somewhat tricky to maneuver, it’s coming along really well. The blossom is the second of the Estonian stitch patterns in the Laminaria shawl pattern (Knitty) and these are fairly challenging to knit. I would consider it at least an intermediate level lace. Not for beginners anyway. Now that I have so many FOs, I need to cast on for the next pair of socks (not too complex) and the beret I want to make. I figure 3 projects on the needles isn’t too many.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Whine. Whinge.

I’m feeling kind of grumpy today even though it’s lovely and sunny outside. My mouth still hurts more than I thought it would though I think some of the swelling has gone down. Maybe I’m just feeling smacked upside the head when I didn’t deserve it. Not that my dental hygienist injured me on purpose or anything. But getting my teeth cleaned is uncomfortable enough without extra pain being inflicted. Her training says not to make any big deal out of it but I feel like more of an apology might have helped my bad feelings. OK, I’ll quit feeling sorry for myself now. Moving right along.

I was playing with some more of the paper yarn that I started swatching a few weeks ago. I knit a separate leaf on a stem that coordinates with the last leaf edging swatch. Then I washed it and painted it with dilute fabric paints just to see what happens. As usual the colour migrated to the top surface so the back is still very pale but it was a fun experiment. Next I need to try dyeing with Procion MX dyes to see what happens and how hard it is to rinse the paper yarn clear. My two full cones of this yarn are ordered and will be here eventually. I’m going to share half a cone with a friend because I don’t really need that much. I just took my chance when it came by! I used my Working Journal and stuck in my swatches and pattern notes. I’m trying to be good and use the book the way it’s supposed to be used. Even if I haven’t really done much with the exercises we’ve been given in the class. I skipped ahead to find a place where there was black paper, white paper and a spacer so I could make the quirks of my handmade book work for me. What do you think?


In other news, finished my guild’s membership booklet finally. It wasn’t all that much work really but a lot of copy/paste/delete stuff. Tired mouse hand! Now I have to take it to the printer and get 160 copies made. Fun stuff. I’m looking forward to crossing this one off my list.

I also turned both heels on the Purple Ruffles Socks and they should go faster now that only half of each round is in the pattern stitch. I also got a few rows done on the Seaweed Shawl. It’s still a pretty teensy piece o' knitting but I’m hoping to get past the central star stitch area very soon and on to the next chart. I’ve also tied about half of the shibori ties on the Shibori Scarf. Getting there slowly. Don’t want to hurt my hands.

And now that the table loom is nekkid, absolutely nothing has happened with the beaded weaving project that I’m supposed to do and then write up for the Complex Weavers Journal. The article is due by December 15. And I have no idea what I’m going to do yet. Urp.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've Been Stabbed!

Luckily it’s not fatal. (I hope. LOL!!) I went to the dentist today for my semiannual cleaning. It wasn’t raining and it was quite warm (15 C. - nearly a record high for today) so I walked the half-hour or so in the fresh air. My dental hygienist, the lovely Russian Victoria, who is usually so thorough but gentle, managed to slip and stabbed me with a scraper right in the valley between my lip and my gum on the left side. Ouchie! It’s a bit puffy and sore at the moment but hopefully will heal quickly. She also found another white patch on my tongue which might mean I have thrush again. Sigh. Why won’t it stay gone? I don’t want to be a Fungus-Face!

Meanwhile, this morning I finished the linen scarf! Finally. I was beginning to think it was endless.

Bronze Ribbon Scarf

Begun: July 30, 2008
Completed: November 12, 2008

Yarn: Louet Euroflax linen sportweight, 270 yds = 100g, colour Gypsy Bronze, 1.3 skeins (about 350 yds).
Needles: Addi Lace 24” circular, 3.25mm

Pattern: Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery, Knitty Spring 2008

Comments: This really was a slow project for me. Modifications were I reduced the width to 3 ribbons by casting on 35 sts and I knit a couple of ribs of garter stitch before beginning the pattern on one of the “interim” rows and then ended with the garter stitch as well. I only used about 1/3 of the second skein but it’s quite long enough at around 2 m. No idea how many repeats – I just knitted until I thought it was long enough. After stitching in the ends I washed it and dried it in the dryer with a large towel to help absorb and cushion. I gave it a final hot steamy press. Now it’s soft and drapey and yummy and I’m very happy I finally finished it.

So now I’m being spoiled and T-Man is making dinner…er, ordering pizza. I’ll have to chew on the non-ouchie side. But it’ll be yummy anyway. Any food I don’t have to cook myself is a treat.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Little Progress

Two steps forward and one back, aka The Damselfly Shuffle. I’m about 1/2 finished my guild roster booklet but I seem to be slipping off to other things much too often. Like washing dishes, making soup out of a ham bone and sweeping the leaves off the deck. Again. This morning it looked like this:

Even though I swept it all off yesterday. Leaf Season is nearly over here (sniff!) and the rain and wind we’ve been having on and off are hurrying things along. Today was lovely and sunny but I was stuck working on the computer most of the day. But then I couldn’t help myself – I had to go outside. So sweeping the deck was my excuse for a bit of sunshine. Imagine about twice that many walnut leaves before I got out there.

I did manage to see the lovely video from Knitting Daily TV with Eunny Jang and Nancy Bush knitting Estonian lace nupps. Here’s a link if you’re not on Knitting Daily’s email list. (If not, why not? It’s full of great info.) Apparently they’re called “noo-ps” not “nuh-ps”! Who knew? Unless you can speak Estonian, that is. Unfortunately most of us have already figured out the knit-loose trick to getting nice nupps while working on the Swallowtail Shawl. Or one of the several other methods invented by frustrated knitters. Helpful for those who haven’t indulged yet however.

Nice to watch Nancy knit too. I’d forgotten how awkward English style can seem especially when there are so many yo’s involved. However, Nancy can knit lovely stuff and lots of it so I guess the method is not as important as the results. Of course, my excuse is that I’m even more awkward with English knitting because I never could throw the yarn over the needle without letting go of the needle first. I’m still slow with Continental which I’ve been using for about 30 years but it uses much less hand and arm movements which allows me to knit longer. I always have to remember how to do English when knitting colourwork where I knit with one colour in my right hand and the other in my left. Perhaps that’s why I turn to mosaic (slip stitch) patterning first before considering fair isle. Although the look of each is somewhat different and it depends on what you’re after. The advantages of mosaic are you’re only working with one yarn at a time and there’s no long floats on the back. The disadvantages are that it takes some knowledge to follow the charts and it’s more difficult to design your own patterns because of distinct parameters that must be followed for it to work. Ya wins some; ya loses some. But over the years I’ve knit a lot more mosaic than fair isle. And very very little intarsia since the very elaborate Chicken Sweater I made for The Ninja when he was small – just before we found out he’s allergic to wool. Wish I still had that sweater. It was all handspun and hand-dyed back when I first learned how. I thought it was pretty amazing. But perhaps it’s better that it lives on only in my memory.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


We managed to get out while it wasn’t raining today for our usual walk to the magazine shop plus other shopping followed by a late lunch at our favourite sushi joint. I had to buy a new umbrella because I managed to kill mine. You can’t function in this town without one unless you are very fond of getting wet or you drive everywhere. I got a muted red one this time because I’m totally bored of black umbrellas. This city is swarming with them. I wanted some colour. Like my smoke bush.

I was also glad that I managed to get back the booklet of transit faresavers that I’d missed last week after paying for them. I thought the chance of retrieving the thing was pretty much nil because I wasn’t sure exactly what happened to it. The young man in the magazine shop remembered that I hadn’t picked them up because he waited for me to come back after he found it hiding under the credit card machine. But I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have the booklet until I got home and then I couldn’t get back there all week. Turns out he only works weekends anyway. We were both very happy to get that cleared up! His boss-lady was very helpful also. T-Man and I go there nearly every week and spend money so they know us as regulars and not as someone trying to scam anyone. $19 is a goodly chunk of change to lose. Whew.

In crafty news, I started drawing up the ties on my woven shibori scarf. This is going to take a couple of sessions because it’s very hard on the hands to tie it tight enough. After it’s tied I’m going to dye it. Natural creamy white is just not my colour and it will show off the shibori patterning better with dye. The overtwisted weft yarn should also give it some texture. Ten minutes in the boiling bath sets the pleats permanently. I hope. At this point it’s all just a big sample experiment! Exciting and just a bit scary.

This week is a busy one. I have to get my guild roster booklet off to the printer, go to the dentist for a cleaning and maybe go to a fibre arts guild meeting Thursday night. I also want to go to the big Circle Craft Christmas Craft sale for the first time in a number of years. Just want to see what’s out there and who’s doing what these days. We’ll probably go after T gets off work on Friday. Then I’ll see how many vendors I know personally. I’m sure there’s a few.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lazy Dazy

Because T-Man is on-call this weekend we couldn’t really go very far today. And, apart from the lovely apricot clouds I saw this morning, it rained all day anyway. So we lazed around in bed most of the day in our jammies. Well, he actually got up long enough to make breakfast and lunch for us and I finished weaving off the warp on the small loom and put dinner in the oven. But besides that and potty breaks we pretty much spent the day under the covers. It feels so wonderfully decadent! I have to keep resisting breaking out into a rousing chorus of “Give Peace A Chance”. (Hint: bed-in, 1969. I was 18 at the time. Unfortunately I wasn’t in Montreal.)

Yes, I finished weaving the shibori warp. And I found out why it took so long! The finished piece was just over 3 yards in length. So the original warp must have been 4 yards instead of 3 because I used some at the workshop. No wonder I was surprised that I didn’t finish weaving it sooner. Oh well. It will shrink some – though mostly width-wise and it’s already only 7” wide. It will make a long narrow scarf which I prefer anyway. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. I’m not going to give it away because the wool I used is not particularly soft which doesn’t usually bother me but others might have a more sensitive neck. I need to take a photo before I tie the shibori ties and it’s dark right now.

So I played with this:

you are aquamarine

Your dominant hues are cyan and green. Although you definitely strive to be logical you care about people and know there's a time and place for thinking emotionally. Your head rules most things but your heart rules others, and getting them to meet in the middle takes a lot of your energy some days.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the html color quiz

Not my favourite colour actually but the description is pretty much me, surprisingly.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Leaf In The Wind

That’s what I feel like these days: one of the gajillions of leaves that are blowing around all over the place. I feel scattered and frustrated that I can’t seem to finish anything. I keep working but nothing feels any closer to completion. Maybe it’s just the weather. Or the fact that I have too many things on the go right now. Unfortunately, because I’m itching to start one more thing: this free beret pattern from Kelbourne Woolens. And I have just the yarn for it:

That would be my birthday present – sock yarn in the “Earth” colourway from Rabbit Ridge Designs of Anchorage, AK, brought home just for me by my mother-in-law from her Alaskan holiday this summer. I think it will make a very cheerful lacey beret and I might even have enough left over for fingerless mitts to match. But I can’t start anything new yet. I still have 2 big commitments that need to be completed first, not to mention 3 knitting projects already on the go. Notice how I’m trying to convince myself to resist starting this? Maybe if I don’t succumb to the temptation to just wind it into a ball. If it’s still in the skein then I can’t just accidentally cast on.

Yesterday was our monthly Spectrum meeting. The group headed over the Lion’s Gate Bridge in the rain to West Van and played with image transfers onto fabric. As I didn’t have a fresh photocopied image to try the acetone transfer or the acrylic medium transfer, I used some of my nearly-vintage t-shirt transfer paper and just a plain inkjet print on fabric that was mounted on butcher paper to go through the printer.

We did a test and found that BubbleJet Set 2000 really does work to keep the image from washing away. But that was with fresh prints after only half an hour. The initial print was brighter without the BJS but it washed nearly all the way out. Better luck was had with no BJS with a much longer (days to weeks) rest plus ironing to set the ink. Since I have a bottle of the BJS, I think I should use it anyway.

The t-shirt transfer paper leaves quite a stiff result but with excellent resolution. You print onto the paper using Best quality and the appropriate paper choice in the printer menu. Then you iron the image on the cloth and peel while it’s still hot. I haven’t tried washing it after but apparently you can even dry it in the dryer. It might make it a bit softer but I’d have to experiment I think. Meanwhile I’m only going to use my images for a wall piece that will never be washed so I don’t care about stiffness or whatever. I have a cunning plan for this design. Can’t start it yet either.

I’m procrastinating on what I’m supposed to be doing today. It’s still raining and my head hurts (again – what is it with Fridays?) and I just don’t feel like working on my guild’s roster booklet right now. However it does need to get to the printer sometime in the next week so I can’t stall for too long. Maybe after lunch.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Yes, it’s about time that I got around to posting again, huh? Weekends are a tough one because often we’re busy doing stuff and this weekend was no exception. Saturday we went shopping. No, really. Actually shopping, as opposed to walking to the magazine shop and then picking up a few groceries on the way home. We took the car even. And drove almost completely across town from one end to the other. Our house is pretty much in the geographic centre too.

For once I had fun buying some new clothes because most of the things I tried on actually fit me. Mark’s Work Wearhouse doesn’t sound like a stylin’ shop but I don’t care. I like simple casual things that last through many washings and wearings. And yes, at least half of the store’s items are meant for the female of the species. I’m somewhat sad to say that most of the garments are made overseas but we don’t have much of a garment industry in Canada so unless I make it myself, it’ll likely have been made elsewhere. But politics aside, the quality is good and the prices are very reasonable especially when most of the things I wanted were on sale. I got two zip-front cotton rib sweaters (black and red), a lovely black “touch of cashmere” hoodie, a waffle-knit Henley-style t-shirt in a natural oatmeal colour, black microfibre long-johns, 2 pairs of black heavy cotton & stretch yoga pants (with a cute little zip pocket in the left pant leg) and a pair of black sweatpants. T-Man even got into the act and got a few t-shirts, a cotton casual long-sleeved shirt for work and a pair of plaid pajama bottoms for lounging. We are doing our little bit to keep the economy moving. OK, I just like buying my own birthday presents!

Yes, yesterday was my birthday and I got a bunch of lovely birthday wishes from family and friends. We were invited out to Milady Daughter and her Lord’s for dinner but first we had to meet them at a weaver’s house to pick up a free loom. The weaver had bought herself a new Louet Spring loom and wanted to find a home for this honking older Swedish-made Glimakra. Really it’s not that big since it’s the same size as my loom, being the model that John Low used for the original Woolhouse countermarch. However, this one came with all the trimmings – if we can only find out how to put them together and make them work. Apparently included in the large pile of lumber and string there is not only an 8-shaft 10-treadle countermarch but the counterbalance conversion, a second warp beam and, most amazingly of all, a drawloom attachment! No idea what kind or whether all the parts are there though. That will take some future research. (Hint: it might possibly fit my loom.) Meanwhile we got the big beast about 2/3 assembled in regular countermarch mode before dinner. Our immediate goal is for her to be able to weave some cloth on it and leave the complications for later. If that’s as far as we get it was still free! The previous owner was not happy with her ability to get a good shed but I’m hoping that my experience with my own loom will be helpful in solving whatever problems she might have had. The Weaver’s loss is Milady’s gain.

Today I babysat the Cutie-Pie Monsters while their parents went to see “Paschendale” at the movie theatre. They are more fun the older they become! This time there was a distinctly better level of cooperation and barely any fighting over the toys. Just about the time I was wearing out, their grandpa got home from work and took over from me for a rousing game of hide-and-seek. I so appreciate the fact that the kids live close enough for us to be a real presence in the grandkids’ lives. But I’m also grateful that I don’t get them more often than once every week or two. Whew!

Before I end, I want to correct my error about the paper yarn. The one I was using to knit the sample swatch is actually a strip about 15mm wide that’s folded in 3 to create a thicker and stronger 4-5mm tape. I didn’t even realize that while I was working with it. Here’s the swatch after washing and blocking:

I think it has some interesting possibilities.