Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This's & That's

We only survived the Moppets yesterday by feeding them pepperoni pizza and watching Wallace & Gromit. Four of my new Play-Doh colours are now homogenized into one interesting kinda-purple colour. And one of my dry-erase pens got determinedly squished in a fit of pique. It was fun actually! They grow so fast that every time I see them, they’ve learned new things. Stargazer just turned 2 and has new words daily. (“Here ya go!” is the current favourite.) Princess Pink actually does play with him sometimes now rather than just taking all the toys away. And she counted up to 24 and only missed 13. Must be an unlucky number, eh? I love being a Granny. At least a couple of times a month.

While they were visiting, The Ninja, who owns a comic shop, pointed me to a video showing them knitting teeny-tiny and rather elaborate little sweaters for Neil Gaiman’s upcoming “Coraline” 3-D animated movie. I haven’t read the book but it’s just the kind of thing I love to watch (rather than read) – eerie fairy-tale/nightmare. And it’s directed by Henry Selick, director of “Nightmare Before Christmas”, one of my all-time favourite movies. (Yes, I do know that I’m rather odd. Your point?) I’m looking forward to it. If I can see the 3-D properly. It’s the stereoscopic kind not the one with funny red and green glasses so it should be ok. More info on the movie here. Warning: you’ll need a fast connection though. Lots of animation and sound. And there are more videos on creating the animation characters and things on YouTube.

So it’s the last day of 2008, huh? That was fast! It seemed like it just zipped by on wings. I guess that means that I wasn’t bored at all. I’ll be working on my word for 2009, “Harmonize”. But I won’t make any resolutions since they are always the same ones that never get completely resolved: get organized, lose weight, get into the studio daily, work in a series, weave and spin more, etc. etc. I’ll just take it as it comes and look forward and just carry on doing stuff and see where that takes me. You never know. Life isn’t a race you can win anyway so you might as well enjoy the run.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Estonian Lace Redux

If you’ve got Nancy Bush’s book, don’t forget to check this page to see if you need the corrections. I did. I even Wrote In My Book! In Ink! Yipes. Shows you need to check every pattern you plan to knit on Ravelry first because that’s where any errors or corrections will definitely be mentioned.

With all my careful research, I realized that I’ve been doing my 3-into-9 star stitches on my Seaweed Shawl without twisting – i.e. knitting into the 3 stitches together normally in the fronts - instead of knitting them through the back loop. In checking the Laminaria pattern, I see that designer Elizabeth Freeman wasn’t consistent in her stitch descriptions and only the 1-into-3 and 2-into-9 star stitches actually specified TBL. Was this a deliberate choice on her part or not? Anyway I was obviously being literal and following directions exactly. In the end it doesn’t really matter except for the direction the lower stitches of the star are leaning. You’d have to look awfully closely to notice.

Speaking of noticing, did you see that Merike, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s post, has left me a comment? It always amazes me when someone pays attention like that. Supernatural radar maybe? I’m flattered anyway and always happy to have clarifications especially from the original source.

Super-brief one today. Expecting the Moppets shortly. We have fresh new Play-Doh! Whoo-hoo!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Estonian Lace Fascination

I think that certain knitting authors don’t realize that their book is truly special, whether it covers a particular subject that has rarely been written about or shows it in a particularly exceptional way. They don’t understand that when their book goes out of print, we who are fascinated are left bereft, frustrated, scouring eBay, borrowing and photocopying illegally, or patting ourselves on the back for getting a copy way back when the getting was good. (Perhaps those who are selling the book for a hugely inflated price are happy though.) Some of the difficulty in reprinting depends on who actually owns the copyright. And publishers aren’t always interested in reprinting something that doesn’t command a huge market. Again the author may have moved on to other things – or moved on to the next life. But I bet sometimes they just don’t get that We Want Their Book. I think this is the case with Leili Reimann, author of the Estonian lace pattern book, Pitsilised Koekirjad. She originally wrote it in the 1970’s and it’s been reprinted twice. Copies are getting really scarce now that reserves of the last (1995) printing are sold out. I got mine last year from Martina in Germany but I doubt she has any left now.

It seems that Ms. Reimann isn’t much interested in reprinting again. Merike Saarniit, an Estonian-American knitter (Ravelry link), attempted to get permission from Ms. Reimann to translate the text of her book into English but it fizzled. Merike has done us a big service though and made a translation of the stitch chart. However I for one would love to know what the rest of the book says! I personally don’t know anyone who speaks and reads Estonian. Lots of other languages, but not that one.

OK so what makes Estonian lace knitting so terribly interesting? They do things that make you think “I didn’t know knitting could do that”! Like the Japanese knitters, the Estonians have some very innovative stitches that go beyond knit, purl, yarn-overs and standard decreases. Most notable of course are the nupps, little buds that add bead-like texture. But there are also what I call star stitches where you start out kinda like a nupp, only the (k1, yo, k1 etc.) can be into 2 sts or 3 or more together, usually through the back loops. The numbers can be equal (for instance, making 3 sts out of 3 sts) or unequal (such as the 3 into 9 of the blossoms in the Laminaria Shawl). After an unequal star, the rest of the extra stitches are decreased back to the normal number in a later row or rows. Often Estonian patterns have an organic quality, including flowers, branches, leaves and combinations thereof. The most popular and the one that most people think of when discussing Estonian lace, are the many lily-of-the-valley variations. Another characteristic is the doubled (or even tripled) yarn for cast-on or bind-off edges. This gives the outline weight and prevents some of the curl you might otherwise get.

So now that I have Nancy Bush’s lovely “Knitted Lace of Estonia” book some things that I was wondering about have become clear. She shows a number of the patterns and several ways that the lace is combined to create scarves and shawls. Her book still feels like only the tip of the lacy iceberg to me though. I know there is a lot more that I would like to understand about these particular stitches and I’ll probably need to swatch and play with them some to get it. I’m a lot farther along the trail now though than I was when I first got the Pitsilised book. At least more of it makes sense to me in spite of the teensy charts using weird symbols with lousy pixilated and tightly cropped swatch photos!

For more Estonian lace, check out the video on this page. Gorgeous - even if you don’t understand a word. And here’s a translation by several of the Estonian speakers on Ravelry of an interview with Leili Reimann circa 1996, shortly after the last reprint of her book came out.

Oy! I know everyone is probably sick to death of my weather reports but really – this is nuts. We’ve been having a bit of a thaw. It was a mostly-sunny day yesterday and a bit above freezing. We got out for a short hoof to the nearest grocery store and it was not easy walking, let me tell you. Only about half the people had shoveled the public sidewalk in front of their house and if you slipped off the foot-high trail of packed snow you went in up to your knees. T-Man and I both had a lot of tired leg muscles when we got home. For amusement he went back out and shoveled some more snow from around the van after making sure the city drains near our property were clear.

Today it’s alternating rain and snow with some really strong gusts of wind thrown in for good measure. T managed to get out to work this morning with the van so I guess it was worth all the digging yesterday. I’m amazed because vehicles are still getting stuck at our intersection. The main roads are clear though, assuming you can get out there. And back again. I used to love it when it snowed but I want my usual winter’s green back now, please! Meanwhile I’m staying home again. And knitting. It took me most of yesterday to knit just one 8-row repeat of the blossom pattern on my Seaweed Shawl. Oy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Look at Frosty go! But since the snow was more than two feet deep it’s going to take awhile to disappear. And before that happens we may be in for some more snow. Rain/snow/rain/snow seems to be the forecast for the next while. Bleh. Cars are still constantly getting stuck on our street. You know it’s messy when even a tow truck is spinning around. I can almost see the asphalt in the ruts now though. First time in about 2 weeks. And my killer icicles are almost gone too. Good because we’re going to need to go on a grocery run soon and I wouldn’t want to be impaled just walking out my door.

So meanwhile, I’ve been knitting on The Ninja’s birthday socks. Beeeeeggg socks. I swear I could knit a whole sweater in a larger gauge using less stitches than these babies have in them. I obviously love the big lug. Plus I enjoy knitting plain socks. I’m flying down the feet now. Photo to come soon. As soon as I can find some light.

So meanwhile, while we’re snowed in, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading online:

Have you seen the December 2008 issue of The Crochet Insider? Don’t miss the fascinating interview with Nancy Nehring, particularly if you’re a textile history buff. Also some great thoughts on where crochet is going in future. Some great eye-candy on the Gallery page too.

Here’s a series of 3 articles on Workhorse Journals from a book artist’s point of view. (Links to succeeding parts on the top of the first page.)

A nice side effect of knitting and reading on my little laptop computer is that she keeps me warm and toasty! I’ve been foregoing her battery (took it out completely) and am running on the power cord. This cord stretching across the room to the nearest 3-prong outlet was a problem until T-Man got me a new power bar/surge protector to plug in behind the bed. Even my old Palm T/X has its recharger there. Now I’ve got everything plugged in neatly and all the cords bundled up and hung out of the way. Small things like this make me very happy. And once a week or so, I plug Bluet’s battery pack back in and run it down and recharge it again just to keep it happy too.

We’re all happy here. At least until the cabin fever sets in. Or we run out of food.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The More It Snows

So this is what the rest of Canada gets for winter, huh? They can have it back now. Please. It’s snowing. Again. Supposed to turn to rain later though. Ewwww…messy. We ain’t goin’ noplace nohow. Call it cocooning.

First though, we survived Christmas! We made it out to The Ninja’s house with Nana and found a dug-out spot on the street to park in. The main roads were clear and wet even though the side streets like ours haven’t ever seen a plough and are horrible. If you can stay on the main drags you’re fine. Otherwise bring a shovel. Everyone who was available made it safely too - one bunch carpooled in the most sensible vehicle among them. We had a lovely time and the food, drink and companionship flowed happily despite the weather. I am now crowned Queen of the Gravy-Makers after my second success in a week. I won’t let the delight go to my head.

Other people might feel let down after the Big Day but I feel relieved. We have a few more invitations to social engagements in the next week but two of them are neighbours (we can just skip over) and we just won’t bother with the distant one today. T-Man is sick of shoveling snow and getting the van stuck trying to get in or out. Enough’s enough. The cupboards are well-laden and we don’t need to go out unless we want to. If it’s still crappy out there by Monday when he has to work, he can do it from here.

Hope you all had a wonderful peaceful Happy Holiday - whichever one(s) you celebrate!

Back to knitting socks and reading blogs while snuggled under a blanket…

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Really! Awful. We were only supposed to have a little more snow and maybe some rain but so far there’s a total of about 18” with drifts up to several feet high. And it’s still snowing hard. The chances are good that we won’t be going anywhere tomorrow for Christmas. Boo-hoo! We certainly aren’t going anywhere today! The VW van is buried up over its bumpers and the MINI Cooper is stuck in the garage with a ton of snow against the door. Poor T-Man is getting very tired of shoveling. The piles of snow from the deck are now higher than the deck is and the heaps at the sides of the front walk are up to my thighs. And it needs shoveling again. This is more like the kind of weather they usually get in the colder parts of Canada – not here in the Banana Belt. Sheesh! Enough already.

Meanwhile I’ve been amusing myself by alternately lazing around under the covers and cleaning the house. Knitting and reading vs. washing and vacuuming. Works for me. T’s been shoveling, reading or flying his virtual airplanes. Yesterday we braved the outdoors and walked, slipping and sliding all the way, to the magazine shop. Unfortunately the pickings were a little thin since the delivery trucks have been having the same trouble getting around as everyone else. So we drowned our sorrows in sushi and miso soup at our favourite sushi joint on the way home. We were both pretty pooped by the time we stomped home. Why are Vancouverites so lazy they only shovel up to the public sidewalk and then stop? Guess they’re waiting for it to melt almost immediately only this time they were fooled and all we got was more snow.

Another casualty of the dump of snow is that my new drum carder is still stuck on Vancouver Island. The person who was going to bring it over isn’t attempting the trip right now so I’ll have to wait until someone can deliver it over to the mainland. Sigh. Oh well. I have lots of other things to do. Indoors only. I can’t even wade out to the trash bin without turning into the Abominable Snowman. My house has some serious icicles:

And even the little birdhouse by the back door has some icicles of its own:

Going out the back door is an exercise in ducking the drips, stepping carefully on the ice and watching for falling icicles. And it’s STILL snowing. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything else.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dreaming Of A White Christmas

OK! I get it already, as Princess Pink would say. It’s TOO white out there now. It can stop! We’ve got a good foot or more on top of the ice from last week. The city has nearly ground to a complete halt and neighbours are helping neighbours get their cars unstuck. Quite the scene! It snowed all day yesterday and we, crazy folks that we are, took the old VW van and picked up Nana and drove all the way out to Surrey in the mess. The things we will go through for a turkey dinner with the immediate family. Really. We got a bit stuck once or twice and slippity-slid some here and there but T-Man was very careful and we made it both ways. The Ninja and his family had it a bit easier since they live closer and had less snow at their house.

Milady Daughter outdid herself with the cooking and Milord Son-In-Law with the appies. (He might not be able to cook but he can shop at Costco!) We brought T’s wine and all was merry and bright. After dinner, everyone who wanted to got a chance to play with the Wii and the big screen TV. Even Nana loved the bowling! T got skunked boxing with Milord SIL though. (You can tell who’s had the practice!) And I can’t get the “Bella Dancerella” song out of my head from Princess Pink’s DVD (royal scepter with light-up tip included):

While Stargazer terrorized everyone with his toy shark:

It was so much fun! The Solstice was well and truly celebrated and the sun welcomed back.

A small group is so much easier to fully enjoy. The Big One comes next at The Ninja and The White Lady’s on Christmas Day. It’s gonna be wonderful chaos! We’re supposed to even have a bit more snow by then. Urgh! BTW White Christmases are very rare around here. I can only remember maybe a handful or so in my life and most of those were only a dusting. A full dump doesn’t happen often and then usually in January or February. I really do like snow, but this is just a bit much. At least T is off work this week so he can do the shoveling. Heh.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I had a whole bunch of stuff I was going to do today but none of it is happening. T-Man is off work from now until Dec 29 so we will have a very relaxing holiday – starting today. It’s somewhere around -6 C. and slippery outside so there’s no walkies today. We’re hanging out under the covers in bed! We even had both breakfast and lunch in here. Talk about your lazy bones, eh?

So it’s not all just sittin’. There’s been some knittin’ going on as well. Here’s the pair of socks I finished and will give to Nana (T’s mom) tomorrow at our Solstice party at Milady Daughter’s. Yeah, I know I don’t give Christmas presents. It’s a Yule gift, ok? Her feet are probably cold. Mine are even with 2 pairs of socks plus felted slippers on.

Kaffe’s Pool Socks

Kaffe's Pool Socks

For: Nana
Begun: December 13, 2008
December 18, 2008

Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, 50 g/210 m, 1.2 skeins = 276.0 yards (252.4m), 4453 Exotic Pool, from Nestucca Bay Yarns in Lincoln City, OR.
Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo dpns, 2mm

Pattern: Damselfly’s Plain Socks on 64 sts, 6” to heel flap, 6.25” to toe dec, dec to 24 sts, dog-ear reduction.

Comments: Pretty yarn colours designed by Kaffe Fassett. I like the way some colours dash into the next one. Has a very long repeat though – only about 3 times per sock. I have some left and will find out if she wants matching fingerless mitts.

We haven’t just been snuggled in bed. We actually went out last evening to a movie which is a rare event for us, though this time the theatre was only a few blocks away from home. We saw “Australia”, which is an excellent movie. Entertaining in all ways even if the characters and storyline were somewhat stereotypical. Like an old western only in WWII-era northern Australia. The cinematography was fabulous and the little boy perfectly cast and the most natural actor in the whole movie. We nearly froze in the theatre though. There were only a few people there so no extra body heat to share. Luckily we were dressed for the weather and just kept our coats on. I took off my hat but put my gloves back on halfway through. It’s a very long movie. At least watching hunky Hugh Jackman for 3 hours plus was worth freezing my feet for.

Friday, December 19, 2008

You Can Tell

When I’m squinting in dismay at the lovely sun on the snow shining in my windows, you know I’ve got another migraine. Why is anyone’s guess. If I could figure out what causes them, I would to my best to avoid whatever-it-is. Unfortunately, my migraines are not that predictable. Phooey.

Meanwhile, the housework is not getting done. (Let’s hear a collective groan in sympathy!) And I’ve turned up the heat in the house to a whopping 18 C. Usually it’s a degree lower but the drafts around here are making it feel much colder, even with my long-johns on. The weather continues cold and although we only have a few inches of snow, it’s much more icy than we’re used to around here. There was a flock of happy robins enjoying my pyracantha berries. This one is taking a break on the wicker arbour:

I’m thinking bird silhouettes might be an interesting shape to play with. As a break from the leaves and trees. Speaking of birds, the seed and suet feeders have been well patronized by our little feathered buddies trying to keep up their strength. I saw a frozen dead crow in the snow yesterday, poor thing. I wish I could keep a water source available for them too but it freezes up too fast. Apparently this frigid weather is continuing for the next while and we could be in for more snow on Sunday when we’ll be heading off to Surrey for our Solstice family dinner. A little more adventurous than needs be.

Speaking of adventures, those of us who managed to make it to the Guild meeting last night had a fun time. There were less than 20 people when we usually get more like 50 or more. The gift exchange was rather more sedate than last year. The gifts were numbered randomly and we each chose a number from a basket and then went up in order to get and unwrap our treasure. I was near the end of the line and got the number for my own gift so the next in line, my friend and current guild prez Sandra, quickly exchanged with me. She really wanted my fingerless mitts and had seen me knitting the second one at our Spectrum meeting. She even tried the completed one on then thinking I would make them too small for “ordinary” sized hands. Heh! She left the meeting later waving her mittened hands around happily. Nice to see them go to someone who appreciates them!

In return I got a teeny little sweater made by Janice on her knitting machine:

That’s a Canadian quarter for size. It’s complete with tiny little buttons and a hanger! Cute. Her sister Ruth said that things were complicated some by the fact that Janice had forgotten to sew the buttons on before she finished sewing up the seams which made them a little tricky to apply after the fact. (Nothing like your sister telling tales on you, eh?) I’m glad she persevered because itty-bitty buttons bring me right back to my childhood and making clothes for my dolls.

Other notable gifts at the party were a “ferny” knitted scarf, a mouse doll with knitted outfit right down to the fingerless mitts and leg warmers, several items of felted jewelry, a couple of woven purses, felted slippers, beaded and stitched decorations and more that I can’t recall right now. The eats were yummy too. Totally worth braving the slippery streets for. Too bad for those who missed it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The D-Word

Since I posted the info on my mitts yesterday, I thought I would talk about documenting your work. Do you bother? If you’re on Ravelry (if not, why not?), do you use your Project pages to keep your basic notes and to show others what you’ve done? Do you blog about your projects? Do you keep a hard copy printout of your notes? Include actual samples and swatches? Organize them all so you can find the information later?

I tend to do all of the above. Even though it can be somewhat time-consuming to keep up, I’ve found that documentation can save me a lot of trouble down the road. Say I want to make another similar item. I can go back and see what I did before, including what might have gone wrong or what I would change or improve. What yarn and equipment I used. Was it size 2.25 or 2.5 mm needles? Was that 2/8 cotton sett at 20 or 24 ends per inch? Which pattern and how did I modify it to fit? More information is always better than less.

Usually my notes start on a Ravelry project page. I enter the date I began the pattern and the yarn and needles so I have them when I write the project up for printout later. Each year I begin a new 3-ring binder to hold all the printouts. The advantage of having the info on Ravelry is that it is up there for others to see and gain inspiration. That inspiration has definitely worked for me in reverse! We see what folks have made and want to make one too. With all the information you input, others can make yarn substitutions and modifications much easier.

My Yearly Binder for 2008 is very fat! If I didn’t think I accomplished much, all I have to do is look at the number of pages I stuffed in it. I included the printouts of the patterns I used, plastic pocket pages with puffs of wool before and after dyeing, knitted swatches, samples of the yarn, yarn labels pasted in, charts and photos of FOs. Every project notes page includes the dates that I begun and finished, very similar to the way I post them on the blog and using information that I began on my Ravelry page. The blog post can have more information usually than what is on Ravelry. And it might reach a different audience. I can tag my blog post with a project in Ravelry so they are linked together. You can see that my three methods of documentation feed off each other and each one has a distinct purpose.

So have I always kept good notes? Nope. Way back in the day, I used to keep handwritten notes with swatches. Then I got a computer (and dot-matrix printer!) and kept better notes. But then I fell off the wagon and started just paperclipping a few things together and chucking them in a binder. No details. Soon I wasn’t even going that far. I missed having more information, particularly when I wanted to date an item (how old are my handwoven kitchen curtains anyway?) or find out what pattern I used. The big crisis came when I really felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything much because I couldn’t see everything I’d made all in one place. That was when I started again keeping better notes.

In the olden days, I would keep each craft’s notes separately: weaving, knitting, crochet, sewing etc. all had their own binders. With everything scattered around, it was harder to locate a project or to see progress. So when I started my project binders near the end of 2004, I included everything in one place in chronological order by completion date. This works much better for me. My notes are actually improving and including even more information. I don’t even have to hunt for the book or magazine or PDF or wherever the pattern came from because I include the “working” pattern with the notes.

The working pattern is a printout or scan of the original pattern. I might even chart it out if charts aren’t included or if they aren’t in a format that makes it easy for me to follow. (I use Knit Visualizer ver.2.1 for that. Some examples are in my last post.) I never work from the original book or magazine because I’d hate to damage or lose it. A printout in a page protector is much easier to use and carry around, plus you can make extra copies and write notes on it if necessary or highlight your size so you don’t get confused. I’m totally averse to marking up my books!

Unfortunately, though I’m pretty good at keeping notes after the fact, I still haven’t gotten into the daily working journal habit that I was trying to effect with that online class that I took in October and November with Sharon Boggon. Of course I didn’t really attempt to do the exercises yet! My Spectrum study group is going to start on it next month so hopefully that will spark something. It’s oriented more toward “art inspiration” though, which may or may not be useful to me and the way I work. We shall see.

I finished the Kaffe’s Pool socks for Nana and am winding balls for The Ninja’s birthday socks. I might have enough of the leftover Pool yarn to make a pair for Princess Pink too. Off to brave the snow and ice to get a few groceries. T-Man managed to drive to work today. Hopefully a few will make it to our Guild’s Christmas Party tonight. I’m making my potluck contribution and wrapping my gift and hoping that my ride will get here safely. She’s starting early and driving carefully. It’s not supposed to snow any more but it’s cold (for us anyway) at -6 C./21 F. and sunny. My winter pansies froze solid in their pots on my front door! I’m not going to look at what’s going on in the greenhouse. Whatever. It’s out of anyone’s control.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My New Mitts

Good thing I finished these little warmers because, baby, it’s cold outside! For once we are having real winter with several inches more snow falling today. I like it – but then I’m not really planning to go anywhere. Even T-Man worked from home today. Vancouverites have no idea how to drive in the snow!

Earthly Fingerless Mitts

Earthly Mitts

For: Me
Begun: December 8, 2008
Finished: December 12, 2008

Yarn: Rabbit Ridge Designs Sock Yarn, 425 yds = 100g, .5 skein “Earth”. Bought on her Alaska tour especially for me by Nana.
Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo dpns, 2 mm

CO 58. Distribute stitches 15/14/15/14 on dpns. K k1/p1 rib for 2”.

For the full mitt chart, it’s on my Ravelry project page here. Follow chart for pattern for right mitt. Red outline indicates thumb gore.

Begin Thumb Gore:
K to 1 st before centre. Increase by knitting in front and back loop of 2 marked centre stitches, complete round following chart.
*K2 rounds without inc.
K to SM, Inc in next stitch, K to within one stitch of next SM, inc in next stitch, k to end of round.*
Repeat from * to * until you have 20 stitches between SMs.
K 1 row.
K to thumb gore. Move stitches between SM to waste thread. CO 2 stitches to fill in gap and complete round.
Knit to end of chart and rib 8 rounds. BO in rib.

Move all thumb gore stitches to dpns.
K around and PU 2 stitches from edge of glove to close hole. K k1/p1 rib for 8 rounds. BO in rib.

Flip palm and back patterns for left mitt.

Comments: I have new respect for pattern designers, particularly those who work with lace patterns! In the process of converting it, I’ve even discovered that there are 2 different versions of Kate Gagnon’s Springtime in Philadelphia pattern, the one I used called Canopy SIP and the regular one (PDF). The Canopy version has the smaller lacey triangles and is less floppy than the Rosies version. I don’t think I would have been interested in knitting the pattern if I’d seen the floppier version first. I need a smaller hat if I’m not going to look drowned in it.

In reversing the direction of the lacey triangles and leaves of the beret pattern for my fingerless mitts, I ran into more than one issue that I hadn’t considered. Look at a close-up of the beret:

Earthly Hat detail

And now compare that with a close-up of the mitts:

Earthly Mitt detail

Can you see where the raised outline is on the bottom of the leaf on the hat and on the lacey triangle on the mitt? I had to move it because of the direction of knitting. Also the leaves have small eyelet holes on the mid-vein and solid edges on the hat and a raised mid-vein and eyelets on the edges on the mitt. The leaves grow from stem to point on the hat: increasing in the mid-vein and decreasing toward the point. On the mitt it’s the reverse: increasing as the tip widens and decreasing on the mid-vein. I could have worked the leaf edges more solid instead with a lifted increase instead of a yarn over, but I like the lighter lacier look on the mitt and it blocks out flatter. I think I achieved a similar look even though the two patterns are not identical. Clear as mud, right?

Here is a portion of each of the two charts so you can compare with the actual knitting:

Partial Hat Chart (original pattern)

Partial Mitt Chart (my interpretation)

Note that the hat’s chart seems upside-down because that’s the way it is worked!

I’m not totally happy with these mitts but it’s ok since they are quite functional anyhow. I made a couple of glitches in the knitting too so I was definitely in a hurry to get it done. There’s still a bit of yarn left but not enough for another pair. It may become an edging or something on another project.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Does The Eye See?

I’ve been trying to write up the Earthly Fingerless Mitts to post it as an FO, but it seems like I want to put so much info in it that it’s taking awhile. Not done yet. So meanwhile I was pondering the subject of photography. For me, a digital camera has changed the way I take pictures bigtime. And having a blog and needing to illustrate it has also caused me to learn more about how to use my camera better. I like to explore nature, colour, texture, line and composition. For some reason I’ve never been much for photos of people. Though I like “art” dolls, I’m not big on the human face or form in other types of art work. I’m even lousy at photographing family gatherings or the like. Weird, I know.

Now that I don’t have to pay to have photos developed by someone else, I feel much more free to take experimental pictures and play with the focus and settings. Then afterwards, I like to use Paint Shop Pro to play with the pictures even more. Only pixels are involved and I can save the original and anything that I change it into that pleases me, all as separate files. I rarely print anything out except my Finished Objects for my Notebook. Most images are viewed on the computer. And yes, they are backed up. Several times. Thanks for asking.

Of course some photos (OK, a lot of photos) are not great, but it’s all part of learning to see and also learning to use the technology, both the camera itself and PSP (or your image editor of choice). My little camera is several years old now and is not one of the new-fangled digital SLRs. I just want to use it right away – not spend half an hour setting it up to shoot! It has some excellent features though, including anti-shake and a really good zoom. Unfortunately I would have liked to be able to see the screen better in bright light. Sometimes I’m just shooting from the hip and hoping for the best!

We used to have a lovely old SLR camera (it got stolen, but that’s another story) and it took great pictures but was tedious to adjust correctly. Nothing was automatic on it! I remember having difficulty even seeing through the viewfinder with my glasses on. The biggest problem with old film cameras is the fact that you can’t see what you’ve taken until you are long-gone from that time and place. No chance to retake if something goes wrong. I'm spoiled for instant playback.

I’ve found I take my camera with me on many occasions even if it’s just for a walk. You never know what you will see that you might want to photograph spontaneously. Or what your photo might inspire in the studio! Has anyone else noticed a recurring theme in your current photos? In mine, I’m seeing a lot of leaves (with fall just past, that’s kinda normal!), textures (rocks, grasses, bark, sand etc.) and, now that winter is here, silhouettes of branches and tree trunks. Wonder what I’m going to do with them?

As an example of my Fun With Photography, here’s two of my flowering kale that are currently sheltering in the greenhouse:

They don't mind the cold so much but the snow presses them down and makes them rot as it melts. We are in an uncharacteristic deep freeze right now that has probably killed off many of my still-surviving plants. I managed to pick some of the greens from the greenhouse yesterday but I don’t know if the plants will make it through the next few days of even lower temps. The geraniums, coreopsis and fuchsias were still flowering somewhat but I bet they’re gonzo now. Even the rhododendrons and aucuba are hanging their leaves down, a sure sign that it’s colder than usual here. And we're expecting a bit more snow later this evening or tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Arctic Air

We currently have a light dusting of snow (somewhat more than the photo shows) and below freezing temps even in the sunshine. It’s feeling very winter wonderland-ish! And very bright. Yes, I know this is normal for most of the rest of the country, but not here in Lotus Land where it’s usually dark and wet. My furnace is going full blast to keep the house at 17 C. and I’m wearing my long underwear, several layers of fleece and fuzzy slippers. I’m still wondering what all the talk of global warming is all about. Couldn’t prove it by me.

We had a fantastic weekend just past. On Saturday we went to watch our granddaughter The Princess Pink in her Christmas skating exhibition. This is the beginning of our being there for the accomplishments of the next generation of the family! However, she was being her stubborn 4-year-old self and not cooperating. The big girls had to carry her out and she wouldn’t hold anyone’s hand. She is the littlest one in her group and is still very new to skates so they all skated around her. Waving at her adoring fans as she left the ice came easily anyway! It was so funny. Meanwhile both me and their other grandmother took turns with Stargazer on our laps. He was lovely and warm and clapped for everyone. So cute.

On our way home we saw a huge herd of Santas:

There must have been well over a hundred all walking down Main Street, over a block and a half long parade! I was trying to photograph them through the car window while laughing so hard the tears came. Now that’s my kind of celebrating the season! The costumes were very individual and fun. And that’s not all. After lunch we went out for our usual weekend walk and saw a cyclist with reindeer antlers, an elderly woman in a Santa hat impromptu dancing to carols played by a brass band, and an art car covered in plastic toys:

Quite the day to inspire joy. As long as we overlooked the crazy drivers!

Yesterday we had a party at the home of one of our local Ravelry knitters. Even with the snow and ice we were 7, happily knitting and munching on goodies and drinking yummy hot Glühwein. Not sure the wine was conducive to mistake-free knitting but it was really yummy. I have another party with my weavers guild coming up on Thursday evening too. Lots of celebrating going on.

While we were out, I found the Winter issue of Spin-Off magazine. I have to say this one is really a keeper! Lots of interesting stuff including articles on multi-blended batts and indi-dyers’ rovings, vicuña and guanaco fibres, Clemes & Clemes company (makers of my favourite hand cards) and lots of scarves woven with handspun yarns on rigid heddle looms. I was interested to read Peter Teal’s article on the Tex system for describing yarns. I always feel he can make a simple thing more complicated than necessary, but it is another way to document your yarns that might be useful for some. I tend to not care so much as long as I know the component fibres and approximately how much finished yarn I have and keep a sample of it for my records. But then I learned to spin by the seat of my pants in the “do-your-own-thing” ‘70’s. Long before counting twists and angles and getting balanced plies and all that stuff became so important to handspinners. Some of them anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frankensocks Junior


For: Stargazer (6” foot - to fit a 2-3 year-old)
Begun: November 26, 2008
Completed: December 9, 2008

Yarn: SR Kertzer On Your Toes, 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, with aloe vera, colourway ON223815, dyelot 117, camo greens, brown and a lot of black.
Needles: Clover Takumi 5” bamboo dpns, size 2mm

Comments: This ball of yarn was total garbage. Knots and bad splices all through. I was going to make socks for The Ninja but decided that the little ones for Stargazer would have less joins and nobody would care if they didn’t match. There was enough for 2 pairs so his mom will be able to mix and match. I ended up only having to join once on two of the socks. There are some small balls and bits remaining.

Damselfly's Sock Pattern Shorthand:
Socks on 52 sts, 4.25” of 2/2 rib to heel flap, plain foot 4.75" before toe dec, dec to 20 sts, dog-ear reduction.

I had a lovely walk in the sunshine yesterday to my LYS, 3 Bags Full. Sivia was working in the shop and she had the incredible moebius/collar that she recently came up with available for a try-on. Have I mentioned what a sweetie she is? A talented addition to the knitting world, she has such a way with lace and beads! I also got the Winter issue of Knitter’s which for once is actually half-decent. I obviously haven’t given up hope on it because I still buy it. And I got another goodie about which I shall not blog. Yet. Plus a second one at my other LYS, Birkeland Bros. Wool. I’m so lucky to have two shops within easy walking distance.

This morning we had some snow which actually stuck. For awhile. And then as usual it turned back to rain, darn it. It was very festive while it lasted! I’m not planning to go anywhere today though I would have loved a walk to the magazine shop. I don’t want to get soaked, not even to see if the Winter Spin-Off is in yet. I’m not that desperate for my magazines. Heh.

Speaking of publications, I have to tell a funny story. I’ve had Nancy Bush’s new “Knitted Lace of Estonia” book on pre-order at Chapter’s/Indigo since the end of October. Yesterday I got annoyed when the original date of December 1st was changed to “temporarily unavailable to order new” so I went to The Needle Arts Book Shop where Marsha had it for less than my member’s discount at Chapter’s. Silly me - I should have gone there first. After ordering from her and getting confirmation, I cancelled the original order. Then of course you know what happened next! It was in at my LYS when I stopped in. Sigh. I could have had instant gratification if I’d only waited a couple more hours. Oh well, I also ordered another of the fascinating Japanese stitch dictionaries at the same time so it will be worth waiting until next week! I like to spread my crafty money around so many vendors can benefit. You know how it is.

And speaking of money, my cheque is off to Kathy in Duncan for the soon-to-be-mine drum carder. She has a friend who is travelling over from Vancouver Island who will bring it for me thus saving postage. I should have it in my hot little hands before Christmas! Whoo-hoo!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Am Not A Grinch

In fact, I’ve been very good this year and have been resisting my usual Holiday urge to rant about the stupidity of the whole Silly Season thing. Well, not too much anyhow. I actually have a wreath (with a bunny) on my back door and T-Man put the lights up on both back and front of the house. I loves me the lights! That and the visiting and the food are my favourite parts of this time of year. I also put up my wonderfully tacky tree that my birth mom made from broken wine bottles and old costume jewelry, all glued to a red velvet background in a speckle-painted frame with lights poking through the backing. She made one awhile back for each of us kids. (Sorry, Mother! But it is totally tacky and I love it.) I even put up the tree-shaped advent calendar that I made when my kids were tiny. The hand-stitched felt decorations button on with mother-of-pearl buttons that came from T-Man’s granny’s collection. Yes, it’s also tacky – but a family tradition more than 30 years old now. Along with Black Jack Bear in his Santa beard and hat in the basket on the front door with the felt pears, I think that’s it for decorating this year. Since we still haven’t cleaned out the last attic space, I can’t get in easily to wrestle out anything else. I would have liked my solstice sun, moon and stars decorations but they’re too far buried. Good enough is good enough. Martha I ain’t.

Instead I spent half the day yesterday attempting to reverse-engineer the Springtime in Philadelphia pattern (that I renamed my Earthly Beret) to fit the fingerless mitts. I’ve frogged back to the ribbing twice because it just doesn’t look right. I’m working in the opposite direction to the way the beret was knit and the angles of the decreases and yo’s are wrong no matter what way I knit them. Just shows you that you can’t simply turn the chart upside down and get the same pattern exactly. I did some research using my precious copy of Knitting Lace by Susanna E. Lewis (Taunton, 1992) to see if I could figure out what went wrong. Besides all the charted patterns from a vintage lace sampler, this book has a whole section on designing and charting lace. It’s fabulously helpful and I wonder why it hasn’t been reprinted yet. Original copies are currently listed for as much as $250! Yipes! The story as I know it is that Taunton didn’t want to reprint (apparently this type of important documentation is not a priority), the copyright reverted to the Brooklyn Museum (who owns the original sampler) and at least 2 years ago, Meg Swansen was in negotiations to get the thing reprinted through her Schoolhouse Press. Obviously didn’t happen - yet. Unfortunate. Meanwhile I guard my copy with trained attack dust bunnies. So no attempts at pinching it. Besides you’d never find it in the forest of books in my studio without a map.

But I digress. The problem I seem to be having is with the heavy line of decreases here:

See how they’re on the “leaf” side of the lacey triangle? When I knit the pattern in reverse it makes them disappear, blending into the yo line instead of defining it. As far as I can make out you can’t change that fact because a strong diagonal line of decreases can only appear beneath the yo’s in the direction you are knitting. I can emphasize the line on the upper edge of the lacey triangle instead by moving the decreases to that side of the yo’s. So it still won’t look the same but it might be better. The only way to do make it truly identical would be to knit the mitt from the top to the wrist. That would make the thumb gusset a bit tricky to cast on and decrease (would be like adding sleeves to a bottom-up circular sweater) and I would have to rip out most of the ribbing I’ve already knit and start again. Sigh.

I thought this would be easier than it’s turning out to be! Silly me. So not wanting to begin again at the top, I opted for “similar” as opposed to “matching”. We’ll see what it looks like when I knit it up again. The frog pond awaits if I’m still not happy. That’s the nice thing with knitting – you can undo it faster than you did it in the first place. Not too many things in life allow for such an easy do-over. Unfortunately that makes it all too easy to be picky. At least until my patience runs out. I'll let you know how it goes.

Still haven’t got a photo of the Frankensocks. It took a whole 24 hours-plus for them to dry even on the warm bathroom counter. There’s a hot air vent under there in just the perfect spot to warm the towels. However that assumes that one hasn’t set the house temp down so low the furnace rarely kicks in! It’s not currently raining so I hope things will brighten up by this afternoon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tech Talk

Those who are allergic to such things can skip down to the knitting content. Meanwhile I want to say a few words about the Battle of the Operating Systems. In my close group of friends we have a number of opinions on the best OS. One Mac-Head insists hers is best and congratulated another who recently switched from PC to Mac. Another uses Mac because it’s reputedly simpler for the beginner and the rest of us are PC with me being the longest-time user of same. I’ve had a computer since 1982 (Commodore 64!) and got my first PC a couple of years later complete with a runtime version of Windows. I’ve been a PC Gal ever since though I have used a Mac on occasions. The differences to me as a user are slight. But then I have my in-house IT guy, T-Man, who pretty much has been able to resolve any issues that come up. And speaking of T, recently he has gone from Mac to PC. Hmmm…

So which is best? Dunno. I go with PC for two main reasons: they’re cheaper (more bang for the buck) and I have software that I use on a regular basis that has no Mac equivalent. Even if it did, who wants to replace a bunch of programs that you’ve already paid for? The legacy software and hardware issues would be my biggest reason to stay with PC. However if all you need are the programs that came with your OS or free stuff you can pick up online, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much. Guess it depends on how you use a computer. Email and web-surfing? Word processing and spreadsheets? Photo storage and editing? Art and design? For me it’s all of the above. On the other hand, I rarely if ever play games and am totally uninterested in the popular ones. (Some form of Solitaire is enough to keep me amused.) But T likes to fly virtual airplanes and we watch TV and DVDs on his computer. YMMV as they say.

Now that I’ve had her for a few months I’m totally surprised at how much I’ve been using my little laptop, Bluet. It’s her portability that I love. Sitting in bed under the warm covers reading email has become my morning ritual. My poor big computer, Damselfly, is lonely upstairs. However when I do get around to using the big one, I remember why I have a 17” screen. Ah, lovely virtual real estate to wander around on! Not nearly so much scrolling going on. But I digress.

The upshot is you go with whatever works for you and you learn how to deal with it. (Or not, as the case may be!) My best advice is to learn as much as you can about how to use your computer efficiently. Take a course or two if necessary. And make sure you know someone with the skills to help you if you get stuck. That actually might be the key to your Mac vs. PC choice. What OS does the family (or neighbourhood) geek use? Don’t forget to ask their advice and ply them with cookies or knit them hats or whatever it takes to get in their good graces! If you don’t have one of these then be prepared to pay for help, possibly through the company that you purchased your computer from.

I know I’m probably nuts, but I can’t imagine getting along without my computer and the internet. I can do the most antique crafts with extremely low-tech equipment. (Spin yarn with a bent wire? Check. Weave bands with a deck of cards and a couple of clamps? Check. Grow my own veggies from seeds? Check.) But I do 99% of my designing and notes and a lot of research on the computer. I communicate mostly by email and rarely make phone calls. I don’t even want to calculate how many hours I spend staring at pixels. Not that I can’t function without it. It’s just the way I prefer to work and over the years it has changed how I work and even what I work on.

OK. Enough already. Some knitting and gardening content now! I finished the second pair of Stargazer’s Frankensocks and I’ll post the details when I can get a photo. They are currently drying (or attempting to dry) on the bathroom counter. It’s pouring rain out and dark like it can only get in December so nothing dries very fast around here. They say we are going to get some cold weather by the weekend which should be interesting. I picked some baby salad greens from the greenhouse and the last of my broccoli yesterday. Not bad for this time of year. I found the trick to getting greens like arugula, mizuna, winter-hardy lettuce and the like to survive is to plant them early enough to grow to a reasonable size before it gets too cold and dark. Then keep picking the outer leaves regularly, water lightly (not too damp or mould happens) and give very occasional feedings of fish fertilizer (not too much or the new growth is too tender). With luck most of the plants should last until spring. Unless we have lots of really cold weather. If we do, I might be tempted to run a bit of heat in the greenhouse, such as my seedling mat which is like a waterproof heating pad, just to take the edge off. It would have to get down to -10C and stay there for several days first before I would be concerned though. So far we’ve barely had light frost. But that could change any time. Especially now that I just planted the last of my fall rye seeds where the broccoli used to be. Tempting fate probably.

Now to finish the charting for my fingerless mitts to match the Earthly Beret. And I’m not using a pencil and graph paper to do it either! Of course you knew that.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I Like To Rise When The Sun She's Rising

I just love tree branches against a pretty sky. That’s my walnut tree with some of the chestnut tree behind on the right, both all bare now.

We went to a housewarming at my nephew’s on Saturday and I managed to leave one of my favourite sock needles there. It accidently dropped on the floor and was found after everyone left. Now I have to wait until Christmas to get it back! At least I can use the spare from the matching set to work on either sock. I’m nearly up to the toes on the second pair of Frankensocks for Stargazer. Should be done by tomorrow or so.

My nephew and his lovely wife have a really nice new 2-bedroom condo with lots of room, lovely dark wood floors and a ground-floor patio that segues into common yard so there’s a view of greenery. Even with a migraine (boo!) I enjoyed the party with family and friends. I even had a lovely baby fix when I got to hold both a 15-month-old cutie (who didn’t last long in my arms but wanted to crawl around under the table instead) and a 9-week-old little guy with the loveliest smile. Yes, I adore babies. Doesn’t everyone? I love them best when I can give them back when I (or they) get tired! Babies are such wonderful little bundles of human potential. They grow up all too soon.

Then yesterday, after a quick 10-minute rainstorm, we went over to the craft fair that I helped jury just to check it out. It was very nice with a good mix of items and a lot of purchasing action going on. I chatted with one of the other jurors who had a booth for her silver jewelry and she said that everyone was happy with the fair and most were doing very well. T-Man had a good chat with a woodturner who uses local city tree woods. (Laurel is beautiful wood! Who knew?) And he also got to see the work of a glass beadmaker who’s work I absolutely loved when we were jurying. She strings her flattened oval or rectangular beads with Swarovski crystals and good-quality silver bead caps and findings. I don’t usually like too much of the sparklies but with her more subdued and often matte beads and the silver, they looked perfect. Now I’m wishing I’d gotten her card though if I really need her contact info I can ask the show’s organizer who is an old friend and neighbour. She’s got all the scoop.

Rant alert. Is it just me, or do others have a problem with someone selling a product that is a dead copy of someone else’s work that has already appeared in a how-to book? I can understand being influenced by the author’s work or using some of their ideas and techniques in your own work. We all do that in some way or other because nothing is really totally new and different. I just can’t understand copying stitch for stitch so that it’s so much the author’s style that you can’t tell the difference. Maybe for yourself or a gift but doing it over and over again to sell? Wouldn’t you want to develop your own voice and your own style? Or is it just all about making money by selling to folks who may not have seen the originals? Yes, there was one craftsperson at the fair whom I totally disagreed with because of the knock-off quality of her work. However, I was outvoted by the other two jurors who didn’t think that was a problem. Though they did reject yet another person who also used the same patterns but her workmanship was not as quality. I understand that the originator published his patterns for folks to use. But I don’t think he meant “please copy me exactly and make lots of money using my designs” even if that wasn’t specifically stated. I don’t have the book at hand to check. Regardless of copyright laws or whatever, I think it’s a moral and artistic integrity thing. Or am I just being oversensitive because I really loved the original idea? OK. Rant over.

We took a good look at everything there – but of course we didn’t buy anything! It was good to see handcrafts selling well right now though. Must be a trend to buy local and handmade instead of offshore and cheap – good news in this tough financial climate. Maybe the downturn has some good in it if it makes folks become more aware of where their purchases originated and where their money is going. Not to mention how much stuff one really needs to be happy. Refashioning or repurposing (why does that word crack me up?) is a hot trend as well. However I do think you need to consider if the item you are creating is going to be useful and pleasing over the long term or if you’re just making junk into more junk. Just saying.

Speaking of stuff, I was disappointed to have lost contact with the person who was going to sell me her drum carder. I don’t know what’s up but several emails and a plea to the Canspin Yahoogroup where I first saw the sale message haven’t born fruit. It’s been a week since her last message where she sent me the photo of the carder. Maybe her email went down before she received my reply with my snail address and phone number? I’m holding out hope. I can wait. It’s not like I need the drum carder Right Now. I would love to know what happened anyhow. I’m an understanding sort. It would be better than dead silence and my wondering imagination.

Friday, December 05, 2008


So our Parliament has been suspended, or more properly “prorogued”. Doncha love that word? It’s like the PM didn’t want to play with the other boys in the sandbox so he called Mama in to send everyone home until the end of January. Meanwhile, he gets to hide behind her skirt and stick his tongue out at the bullies and then try to come up some new scheme to keep them from taking his toys. I just hope tempers will have a chance to cool and sense to prevail before they get back in the sandbox again. Meanwhile, who knows what will happen and what state our country’s financial situation will be in by then? Who elected these people anyway? Oh wait – that would be the 59% of us who actually voted in October. Hope those who didn’t are kicking themselves now ‘cause if you don’t vote, you shouldn’t complain. Oh well, we may have another chance to exercise our democratic right sooner than we anticipated. Hah! Our government – more fun than a barrel of electric eels.

So Spectrum was great fun yesterday as always. We were working on a number of different projects including beading, felting, knitting, and stitching. Our hostess found herself with nothing to do because she had already finished her gift for our guild’s Christmas party exchange. (Should have had a backup project, hey?) We had a yummy potluck lunch and solved all the world’s problems…er, had a lovely chat. I made the second one of these fingerless mitts and finished them at home last evening:

Quick Fingerless Mitts
For Guild Holiday Gift Exchange

Quick Fingerless Mitts

December 3, 2008

December 4, 2008

to fit a medium-sized hand but stretchy (tested on T-Man!)

Approx 35 g, handspun 2-ply light worsted weight wool, one ply black and one ply variegated reds/browns.

Crystal Palace bamboo 7.5” dpns, size 4 (3.5mm)

5.5 sts and 7.5 rows per inch in st st. Slightly looser gauge than normal with this yarn so fabric is not dense but stretchy and still has some drape.

improvised from rib patt from Ann Budd’s “Getting Started Knitting Socks” and basic mitt patt from her “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns”.

CO 36 as for socks. K rib patt for 7 repeats.
Change to st st and k 1 round. Inc (M1L) after last st.
K to 2 sts from end of round, place marker, M1R, k1, M1L, pm, k1. (3 sts bet markers)

K 1 round plain. Inc in next round after 1st marker and before 2nd marker, as established. (5 sts bet markers)

*K 2 rounds plain. Inc in next round.* Rep bet * 2 more times. (11 sts bet m)

K 3 rnds plain. Inc bet m. (13 sts bet m)

K around to 1st marker. Sl sts bet m to spare length of yarn.
CO 1 st (backwards loop) over gap and k last st. K 8 more rounds. Dec 1 st at end of last rnd.
Switch to rib patt and k 3 rep of patt.

BO loosely in patt.

PU sts from holding yarn. Join yarn and beg rib patt. (p last extra st)

PU and k 3 sts in gap. (16 sts)

Next rnd: cont in rib patt to last 4 sts, p2tog twice. (14 sts)
Rep last rnd. (12 sts rem)
Cont rib patt until 3 rep total.
BO loosely in patt. Sew in ends.

Block by handwashing, roll in towel to squeeze out excess, pat to shape and let dry.

Comments: Yes, it only took 2 days of knitting, one each. In this yarn I could have just knitted a plain rib because the patterned one is kind of lost in the busy-ness going on. Might have made it easier to knit too! However, it will be a nice surprise for someone who looks closely. ;)
Note that I had to do a fast decrease on the thumb to get the right number of sts to work the rib patt. If you have a larger thumb or prefer a looser fit, you might like to skip the last dec rnd and work the rib on the 14 sts instead. You would have to do a k1/p1 rib instead though. The reason I picked up 3 sts instead of only 1 in the gap is because it looked much to “holey” otherwise. It’s easier to pick up more sts and dec than to try to pull all the holes together by sewing later. Looks nicer too, methinks. Now I get to give them away!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Poor Mme. Jean

Canada has a much more exciting government than one would think, given our world reputation as “nice”. Yarn Harlot has the best explanation ever of what’s going on here. I’m sure you’ve probably read it already. And thought “Whoa! Dudes! Totally crazy!” You would be right. But it’s our system and for the most part, it works just fine. However I’m dying to find out what Her Excellency The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, our lovely Governor General, is going to do now. She’s certainly having to work for her nice house, servants and perks like hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, isn’t she? Though it’s not a bad gig for a black woman born in Haiti and married to a Frenchman (both now Canadian citizens, of course) to be the Crown’s representative and guarantor of responsible government in Canada. Good luck, I say. Whatever she does (and the GG rarely goes against the Prime Minister’s wishes) it’s going to make somebody unhappy. Probably everybody at once.

Meanwhile this is a short post. I’m heading out today to my Spectrum Group meeting. I’m working on a) finishing tying up the shibori ties on the woven scarf (it’s been languishing) and b) knit a second fingerless mitt. I’ll talk about the latter later. Off to make my potluck dish for lunch and have a shower.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Harmonize or Organize

Interesting that while I was thinking about my word for 2009, I thought about “organize” but rejected it as too literal. Too obvious. And I’ve already been trying to get really organized for what seems like forever and never quite succeeding. My organized state fluctuates a lot.

I’m one of those people who likes some organization in my workspace but I’m not overly organized or anally neat. If it’s too perfect I’m afraid to touch anything and somehow I just can’t get to that pristine state anyway no matter how hard I might try. However I don’t really like to work in a huge mess either, particularly with too many different things going on at once. I begin to lose stuff in the chaos, including my focus. I know a number of people on both ends of the messy-to-neat scale and neither extreme seems to guarantee happiness. I’m much more content (heh!) to be somewhere in the middle of the continuum. Though fabulous and very creative work can come out of the most tidy studio or one that looks like a hurricane hit it. In the end it has to do with individual personality.

I think it’s interesting how some people can live so differently from me. The recent trend to minimalist decorating with many hard edges and neutral colours would drive me batty. (OK, battier than usual.) A lot of metal and glass with no textiles or plants to soften and warm is way too industrial for my taste. Easy to maintain and keep clean perhaps, which likely suits those who spend most of their time at work or in a coffee shop. On the other hand, surrounding oneself with heaps of dusty junk until the living space is reduced to a pathway through the stacks doesn’t work for me either. But we seem to be heading in that direction in spite of ourselves. Right now I’m having issues with some of the knickknacks…er, treasures around my house. I like them for sentimental reasons but I hate dusting them. I want to be able to clean surfaces easier but at the same time I don’t want to throw anything away. At the moment we’re at an impasse. The dust bunnies that lurk in the corners of my house are happy to have friends though.

Here’s one slightly dusty corner of my living room that’s looking pretty festive at the moment:

The Christmas cactuses are in full bloom now that the Thanksgiving cactuses have passed their best. This is the big mama one. Quite a display and a couple of weeks earlier than usual! It’s a little crowded on the old sewing machine cabinet with my big disocactus, 2 spider plants, and a small orange-tinted Thanksgiving cactus. They all have to hang out together until I can put the cactuses outside again in the spring. I found that was the secret to having lots of blooms on all of them: 6 months on the deck with plenty of water and a modicum of fish fertilizer. These guys will probably bloom again at Easter. Last year they had a bloom or two here and there continuously until nearly the time I put them back outside.

Speaking of last year vs. this year, my jewel orchids are the opposite of the cactus plants. I’ve only found one flower spike coming up so far. Boo-hoo. Last year there was a dozen or more. They usually bloom from Christmas through to spring since the flowers hold for a very long time. Unlike the cactus flowers that are gone in a day or two.

For some (long-awaited, I’m sure) knitting content, here’s the first of the two pairs of Stargazer’s Frankensocks from the bad ball of yarn:


I’m already partway through the second pair.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Contentment: A Feeling of Calm Satisfaction

I’m beginning a dialog with myself about my inspirational word for last year “contentment” and whether or not I’ve realized it. I think I have, but it’s been an interesting year. A little too interesting on occasions!

I got quite a few things accomplished including knitting 17 pairs of socks (so far anyway – and there’s still another pair nearly done) and 3 pairs of gloves, my attics cleaned out (except one last one that needs some remedial work), lots of dyeing with my home-grown dyestuff, the Circus blanket woven, got our staircase re-carpeted, the house re-roofed, new stone pathways in the veggie garden, and the deck and railings refinished. It feels good having some stuff that has been waiting a long time finally completed.

On the negative side we lost both our elderly cats within a few weeks of each other. I miss them a lot but now I have several less chores to do – except the dustbunnies are still alive and growing well even without the extra cat hair. Go figure. And my health didn’t do very well this year although it’s nothing truly serious. If it was more serious I would probably work a lot harder to find a solution, assuming there is one. I keep waiting for it all to go away by itself. I’ve had a fairly good energy level though especially through the later spring and summer. I got lots of exercise in the garden and walking everywhere. We’ve nearly stopped buying groceries using the car entirely except for the big heavy stuff.

Things are not quite as organized around here as I was hoping they would be by now. I have up-to-date inventories of my publications (books, magazines, notebooks etc.) and my fibre and fabric stashes but I haven’t finished the equipment and tools inventory and barely started on the yarns. Part of me wants to get rid of superfluous stuff and the other part wants to hold onto everything just in case. So far neither side has won because I haven’t done anything with it all except ignore it, dust it, or move the piles around.

Emotionally I’m in a very good place. My relationships are solid and positive and I get a lot of pleasure from my family time. I have lots of things to occupy my interest and never feel boredom. More time for everything would be good though! The days go by too fast sometimes. (Yeah, I know. So what else is new?) We had a lovely long holiday in September that left us both relaxed and with great memories. So have I got to the contentment I was looking for? I think so. However, it could all be set topsy-turvy if T-Man gets “retired” before he’s ready for it. Or as he puts it, we’ll be finding the “new normal”. I bet a lot of people are in that boat.

Speaking of which, I was considering what larger purchases I would like to have quick before we find ourselves living on a fixed income. This weekend I managed to luck out and find someone who was selling a lightly-used Patrick Green Deb’s Delicate Deluxe drum carder with both fur and production drums. Just what I wanted but was reluctant to put out the cash for a new one. My original drum carder is from the 1970’s and has coarse carding cloth that works fine for the Romney wool that was a staple of my early spinning days, but I would love to be able to blend finer fibres without creating neppy messes. Or without using hand-cards, which I have in several finer sizes up to cotton cards. Hand-carding is ok for smaller amounts but not for any volume. It’s too hard on my neck and arms. This is what the soon-to-be-my Deb looks like:

I think $650 is a reasonable price to pay for it. Now I have to find out how much it’s going to cost to mail it to me from Vancouver Island. At least she still has the original boxes.

So I’ve already found a word to aspire to for next year. Yeah, I know there’s still a whole month yet. But it’s a busy one and I wanted to be all ready to go when 2009 begins!

Harmonize: to combine pleasingly, or make things combine pleasingly

It has some potential as a theme to concentrate on for a year, doncha think? I also played with Scribbler some more:

Yes, leaves are an important image for me. I like to play with them often. Maybe a secondary theme?