Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon & Happy New Year!


Hope you get to see the blue moon tonight! I doubt the sky will be clear here so I’m going to have to just imagine it. I did get to see the first one on December 2 though and it was glorious. Of course, the moon isn’t really blue – or made of cheese either (as Wallace & Gromit discovered!) That’s just the common term for the second full moon in a month. It only happens every couple of years and to have one on New Year’s Eve is really rare. Last one was in 1990. So enjoy.

Despite some old 16th Century Catholic pope who had a (very awkward) calendar named after him, I won’t be staying up until midnight tonight to welcome in the new year. We were woken up at 4am this morning by T-Man’s cell phone which he hadn’t turned off. And then I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was cold. I snuggled up to T, who was restless and noisy. (But warm!) Then at 6am he turned on the computer in our room to work from home. By that time I was definitely awake. Unfortunately he couldn’t log in to work so he ended up going in anyway. Phooey. I’m going to drop like a leaf at 7pm. Just watch me.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep through the kafuffle at Midnight. It’s usually the freighters in the harbour that wake me. Unless there’s a neighbourhood party and somebody gets inspired to use up the last of the Halloween fireworks – most folks are pretty subdued around here. Our New Year’s Day is just another excuse for my family to get together and eat, drink and be merry! Hope you have a very Happy New Year and I’ll be back in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Between Time

Like a lot of people, I feel that the space between Christmas and New Year’s is kind of a Dead Zone. Holding Pattern. Deep Breath. T-Man often takes this week off but this year he took last week off instead. Since he got back to work on Monday though, his job has been busy. Lots of printing businesses using the Between Time to upgrade, install, reboot, find all the problems – and then call T’s office when things go horribly awry. As anything to do with computer systems always does. Mr. Fixit-T to the rescue! What can I say? He has a gift.

So meanwhile, after Monday’s onslaught of the grand-beasties, it’s been quiet around here. I finished this:

Blodgie’s Sweater

For: Blodgie, my hot water bottle

clip_image002Begun: December 27, 2009

Completed: December 28, 2009

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Solid, 100% wool (not superwash), 158 yds = 3 oz. (85g). Used the whole ball.

Needles: Aero aluminum dpns, 5mm; Aero aluminum 16” circular, 5mm.

Pattern: USBN Hot Water Bottle Cozy by Yarnagogo, substituting the cable pattern from the Trebuchet Hot Water Bottle Cozy.

Mods & Comments: I made the cosy slightly smaller to fit my small-sized hottie. It’s green and with its orange sweater, it looks very pumpkin-like. But you can’t see the green part at all from this angle unfortunately.

Cast on 44 sts on dpns. Made one extra round of inc to 64 sts. Changed to 16” circular. Cable panel of 14 sts has 9 plain sts each side, leaving 32 sts plain for back. Knit 7 repeats of the cable patt. 4 rows before end of last repeat, changed back to dpns and begin decs. Worked 5 rounds of dec (last rnd maintaining purls in cable patt) to get back to 44 sts at the “shoulder”. Switched to 2/2 rib until I had just enough yarn left to bind off. The “Turtleneck” is about 7.5” long. Stitched up the opening on the bottom.

I would have begun with a toe-up sock beginning (Judy’s Magic Cast-On perhaps), but I was too lazy to look up the instructions. I ended up with less than a metre of yarn (donated by my friend laurendw) left when I was done. I had to fold Blodgie in half to get it in its new sweater but it fits perfectly!

Warm. I will be warm. However, the temp outside has risen and it’s raining. Bleh.

Currently I’m knitting socks for The Ninja but I only have ribbing to show so far. Makes for a rather boring photo so I’ll spare you. Plus I’m thinking I need to break down and do the (dare I say it?) Math – so I can finish up the long-languishing Green Star Cardi. I started the darn thing back in July! It’s about halfway finished but the neck and armhole shaping needs some major re-jigging if it’s going to fit me the way I want it to. Which of course is why it’s been sitting around being Studiously Ignored. I’m allergic to Math. I can do it, but only with a calculator. And I don’t enjoy it. I’d rather clean the fridge and iron seven shirts and wash the kitchen floor and, oh, say, prepare a one-hour lecture.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Year’s Projects

I was counting the things I’ve made this year. I like having a notebook that contains all the notes and patterns. Besides having all the info in one place for reference, it gives me an overview of how much I’ve actually accomplished when it feels like I never finish anything. Because I work on more than one thing at a time it seems to take much longer than it really does to complete each one. Here’s the final totals for 2009:

  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of legwarmers
  • 8 scarves (5 of them crocheted and 3 knit)
  • 3 lace shawls
  • 4 hats (one crochet and 3 knit)
  • 3 sweaters (one adult size, one kid size and one baby size)
  • 2 dresses (one knit and one sewn)
  • 3 pairs of gloves/mitts (2 with full fingers)
  • 1 toy
  • 1 hot water bottle cosy

I also dyed several pounds of wool roving and skeins of yarn, mostly using natural dyes. Notably I didn’t do very much spinning except for some of the scarves. Must remedy that before I forget how to do it! And I still have a few items that are not yet finished. The crocheted afghan from sock yarn remnants is definitely going to be an ongoing project for some time to come. I hope to finish the rest sooner rather than later. Each item completed gives me the incentive to start something new!

I notice that I made less than half the usual number of socks. Slipping there! Maybe I’m just tired of knitting socks or that nearly everyone now has lots of pairs so I’m not feeling the same urgency? However, I know T-Man needs a new pair because he actually Wore Out one and at least another pair or two are getting dangerously thin. And Stargazer has grown out of all of his Granny Socks. (Today is his Third Birthday! Yikes!) I obviously need to get on the job again, huh?

However the most urgent project right now is preparing for a lecture I have to give to my weavers & spinners guild in February. The subject is Natural Fibres. I need to learn how to use Power Point, find all the images, spin some samples and write up my notes. I haven’t even started yet. Wish me luck!

Since I haven’t photographed Blodgie’s Sweater yet (aka my hot water bottle cosy) I’ll leave you with another shot from Saturday. That big ball is Science World, a legacy from Expo ‘86. (In the dark it looks like a dandelion puff with lights at each intersection of the dome!) I love how still the water is in False Creek. Made for great reflections.


Monday, December 28, 2009

I’ve Been Remiss

T-Man went back to work today after a week off. I miss him although it is giving me a chance to catch up on a few things that have gotten lost in the shuffle. Anyhow, here I thought I’d blogged all my Finished Objects but today I discovered that I’ve totally missed two whole items!

The first is the sweater that I remade out of T’s old sweater that he refused to throw out. I was waiting for a photo of me wearing it, but we never got around to it. Here’s what I have anyway:

Green Peace Cardi

clip_image001Begun: December 2, 2009

Completed: December 16, 2009

Yarn: my vintage (30 years old!) handspun Romney wool, 2-ply, approx. 90 yds = 100 g, blended green (blue, greens, gold), recycled from an old turtleneck pullover sweater, 625 g (225 g remaining).

Notions:  two large abalone shell buttons (nearly as vintage as the yarn)

Needles: Denise interchangeable circulars, 6.5 mm tips, going down to 5.5 mm tips for the garter hem.

Pattern: Shalom Cardigan by Meghan MacFarlane.
or the direct pattern
pdf link. I used many of the modifications used by Susan for her Shalom on Ravelry.

Mods: Used cable cast-on, 77 sts. First row = wrong side (even rows are right side rows). Reduced twisted rib sections by 2 rows each. After increases: 123, 151, 195 sts. Made 2 buttonholes using "reinforced buttonhole" from M. Stanley, first as patt, second just before second inc. Divided body: 35/34/57/34/35, leaving armhole sts on holder. Cast-on 10 sts at underarms. Added 4 short-rows at back section to lengthen. Side shaping: 4" straight then dec 2 sts each side every 6th row twice, straight to 8" from underarm, inc 2 sts each side every 6th row 3 times, straight to 16" from underarm, change to smaller needles, k 4 garter ridges, bind off from public side in purl (matches neck edge). Pick up 16 sts (10 underarm sts, plus 3 corner sts) and k around armhole, bind off in purl.

Final size: bust 40” plus overlap (2” positive ease), hip 44” (edge-to-edge, no overlap, 0 ease), neckline 23”, yoke 7” deep, length 17” from underarm and 25” from shoulder point, armhole 16” diameter.

Comments: The yarn is very old and lumpy-bumpy. Actually looks like handspun! Unlike anything I can produce these days, that’s for sure. And it’s somewhat felted after all the years and washings.

There were fitting problems post-blocking. Needed to frog 6” (back to 3 inc rows instead of 6) and re-knit to the hem. If at first you don’t succeed, try again! Because, darn it, I did want to wear this thing.

Now fits me absolutely perfectly, just skimming the (lumpy) body and not stretching or gapping. I’m so pleased! I can see more similar sweaters in my future. Different yarn though. Not sure what I’ll do with the leftovers either. Maybe another Hill Country Hat? Or maybe it’s too scratchy.

Next missed completed item was the gift I made for my guild’s Christmas Party. I discussed the party but didn’t give the details of my contribution so here they are:

Blue Star Garland Scarflet

For:  GVWSG Christmas Swap


Begun: November 3, 2009

Completed: November 22, 2009

Yarn: handspun 2-ply merino, light fingering/lace weight, colour Baltic (blue) from Ashland Bay fibres purchased at Birkeland Bros, spun on Louet Victoria with regular head.

Beads: 6/0 root beer trans AB

Pattern: Starfish motif from “Freeform Style” by Jonelle Raffino and Prudence Mapstone

Hook: Clover Soft Touch 3.75mm

clip_image003Comments: I charted the pattern using standard crochet symbols. Each round is a different colour just to distinguish them from each other. The little green marks on two legs show where I joined each motif to the previous motif as I went. Take the hook out of the chain, put it through the tip of the attachment point, pull loop through and carry on with the pattern. I also used the beginning tail to attach the centre bead before burying the end.


The final size blocked to 2.5 yards long which will make a nice little scarf or could be used as holiday decoration. I’m sure the legs will curl up again but I don’t think that’s a problem. They’re like little starry hugs!

A lovely and talented new guild member won this which makes me very happy. She wants to learn how to crochet these motifs now.

Whew! I feel better getting those off my chest. Currently I’ve started a new pair of plain socks for The Ninja’s birthday next month. And I’m nearly finished a quick sweater for Blodgie, my hot water bottle (aka The Rubber Heat Water Bag). It’s a woolly orange turtleneck with a charming cable pattern on the front. Should go well with his green rubber skin, don’t you think? Very pumpkin-like. This time I’ll remember to post the FO in a more timely fashion.

BTW Sherlock Holmes was a wonderful movie! In some ways, much more true to the characters in Doyle’s books. There will be a sequel, I guarantee it – especially since they’ve set us up for it already! This afternoon I get to babysit the grand-beasties while their parents go see it themselves. Glad we got our dibs in first or I’m sure there would be some spoilers in the conversation afterwards!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Something To Crow About

Crow I finally finished one of the projects that I’ve had kicking around since the summer:

Bubbly Beret

clip_image002For: me

Begun: August 26, 2009

Completed: December 27, 2009 (finally!)

Yarn: Blue Moon Socks That Rock lightweight, colour Ravenscroft (black with hints of blue, green, purple) 360 yds = 127g, used 73 g.

Hook: 4mm (worked at an easy tension)

Needles: 3.75mm dpns

Pattern: Crochet Bobble Beret by Robyn Chachula, Knitscene Fall 2009

Modifications: The band looked too loose and thready. Could have maybe gone down another needle size? Instead of binding off, I did a round of purl, then continued to knit the rib pattern 5 more rounds. Folded the band in half and sewed the live stitches to the last round of crochet. It’s still a wee bit loose but if necessary, I can add elastic through the tunnel.

clip_image006Comments: This took a very long time to complete! Started it before I went away in September and then didn’t pick it up again until a few weeks ago. I ended up beginning over again after my tension relaxed. I needed bright light and lots of concentration to keep track of the pattern increases and decreases. The buttons are some old metal ones from my stash. They look like they have 4 screws in them! I think they give a nice modern look to it. I wet-blocked the finished hat on a 10” plate suspended over a water glass to give the proper shape. I wanted it more beret-shaped than the photo accompanying the pattern.

Pardon the somewhat goofy photos. My T-Man is not a great fashion photographer and I’m not a great model! I like my new hat though. I have hopefully enough of this yarn left over to make a pair of gloves. With fingers this time.

We’re heading out shortly to walk downtown. We’re going to go see the Holmes movie! I’m such a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan. We walked in the same direction yesterday, down to the water between Science World and the foot of the Cambie Bridge. We wanted to see how they were coming along with the Olympic Village. Pretty much ready for the athletes as far as we could tell! The weather was sunny but misty especially over the water:

FalseCreekI got some great photos of the False Creek harbour. It’s not perfect by any means, but I really love my city.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nightmare After Christmas

Of course Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” is my favourite holiday movie, along with the original Grinch and the Alastair Sim version of Scrooge. We got a new copy of Nightmare too, in DVD since our last version was VHS (and who knows how long the player will last?). The disc was a used bargain at $5. I’m a very happy damselfly.

On Christmas Eve we went for a walk in the sunshine around the neighbourhood while carefully avoiding the shops. Then I made butter tarts and shortbread while singing snippets from the movie:

Kidnap the Sandy Claws, see what we will see
Lock him in a cage and then, throw away the key!

Much more fun than the “real” carols, IMHO. Yes, I’m perverse like that. Don’t judge me.

We lazed around in bed on Christmas morning, not having any little ones around to get us moving. I was served breakfast in bed (again! I’m so spoiled) and finally dragged my sorry behind up while his was still firmly planted in the bed. Eventually we headed for our son and DIL’s (The Ninja & The White Lady) for the Big Turkey dinner.

Unfortunately they were not feeling well at all, just coming down with a bug. Especially poor WL, who was really toast. Just what you need when you’ve invited 20 or so of your rellies to dinner, huh? And you can’t cancel because there’s a honking huge turkey and fixin’s that need to be cooked and eaten. So the guests pitched in – particularly my little French-Canadian sis-in-law who is a gem and a jewel – plus The Ninja managed to marshal his resources and a good time was had by all. Or most – The White Lady was definitely looking a bit peaky by the time we left. In spite of everything the food was fabulously yummy! The stuffing had sausage in it and was really good. Plus salads, smashed spuds, roasted root veggies, peas and lots more. I even ate the Brussels sprouts, smothered in cheesy goodness. Of course I made the gravy, that being my “speciality” (as Wallace would say).

The little cousins (5 in total) all got well-spoiled with gifts. I’m surprised that anyone knew which toy went with whom after the blizzard of ripped paper was over! Luckily though the kids had it all figured out which loot was theirs. And I got my fill of baby-jiggling while we were playing musical chairs with the littlest cousin. Hopefully he will get some play time out of the present that I made for him:

Dodecahedron Toy

For: Baby Great-Nephew (4-months-old)

DodieToy Begun: December 21, 2009

Completed: December 23, 2009

Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, 75% superwash wool/25% polyamide, colour 4255, 210 m = 50g. Took less than one ball (leftovers from Milady’s Gloves).

Hook: Clover SoftTouch 3.5mm (E)

Pattern: Celestine Crochet, free pattern from Berroco

Modifications: I worked the rounds without a ch-1 step-up, just going in a spiral.

Comments: The shape is a little wonky due to the fact that my tension got tighter after the first point and also that I can’t count! I think maybe only one point has no errors in it. I got very good at fudging the numbers so they came out right at the end anyway. The very last point was difficult to crochet, especially in the beginning few rounds. If I was to do it again, I wouldn’t stuff until about round 3 just to give myself something to work with.

I stuffed it with fiberfill and included a film canister with a few little rocks in it for sound, wrapping the canister well with fiberfill and yarn to cushion it before placing it inside. It rattles quite loudly! Hope it doesn’t drive his parents nuts.

So what was the Nightmare After Christmas? Trying to get home! A journey that took us less than a half-hour on the way out took over 2 hours to get back again. We didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight. There was an accident on the freeway that slowed traffic to a crawl. Once we got past the next exit, the one where the radio news had been telling everyone to take and was now seriously blocked up by folks trying to avoid the first problem, we sailed the rest of the way. Our exit was before the reported accident which was probably cleared by then anyway. Sheesh! At least there was some nice 17th century Baroque Christmas music to listen to on CBC radio so I didn’t fall asleep in the car. T-Man’s clutch-foot got tired though – the disadvantage of the standard transmission in our MINI-Cooper. It was nice that it has heated seats. It was frosty out there.

Hope everyone had a Very-Merry and a Happy-Happy! Wishing you all Peace On Earth. It can’t hurt, eh?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Between Times

We had a loverly Winter Solstice party at Milady Daughter’s on Monday. Just the immediate fambly plus Nana and T-Man’s lonely bro, whose wife and kids are currently in Quebec. Milord & Milady are going to Victoria for Christmas to be with his mom & step-dad so this was our only chance to get together until New Year’s Day. The gang is getting so numerous that splitting up for the holidays is inevitable. Since I don’t really care much about following traditions, I’m not bothered in the least. As long as nobody feels lonely or left out, it’s all good.

Princess Pink liked her legwarmers and they fit well so I may be working on another pair soon. Milady liked her rather belated Birthday Socks and Nana loved her Ishbel shawl. It was nice to finally give these away after sitting on them for so long! There was quite the coincidence too with Milady Daughter giving her sis-in-law, The White Lady, another Ishbel from the same merino/tencel sock yarn but in a different colourway. We even used the same modification: doing an extra repeat of the lace to make it bigger! All this same-same without actually conspiring together on purpose. Of course, Milady’s is much more evenly knit, even though she knit hers on public transit and I knit mine in the van on our vacation, so we were both working in moving vehicles. She just couldn’t control herself and had to put them together to see how similar they were!

Milady also knit her Nana a gorgeous shawl with her handspun lace yarn, using a pattern of her own devising from the ones in Evelyn Clark’s Knitting Lace Triangles booklet. See?

C_NanaTriangle2Isn’t it purty? That’s Milady herself modeling it about 10 minutes after the shawl came off the blocking board. Nana was thrilled to have two shawls: one warmer and one dressier from the both of us crazy-mom-and-daughter lace-knitting-maniacs.

T-Man is off work this week so things are a little more off-kilter than usual in Damselfly’s Pond. Sleeping late, getting breakfast in bed, reading and knitting/crocheting as much as I want…life is tough, eh? Makes me look forward to his retirement all the more. Then we’ll have lots of time – but no money. Ya wins some; ya loses some, doncha?

Meanwhile, I finished these little darlings:

Sleekit Mitts

SleekitMitts Begun: December 8, 2009

Completed: December 21, 2009

Yarn: Newton’s Yarn Country Happy Feet sock yarn, 3-ply superwash wool/nylon, commercially painted (reds/blues), took 40 g/ 155 yds (still more left!)

Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo dpns, 2mm

Pattern: Sleekit Mitts by Star Rabinowitz (free pattern on Ravelry)

Mods: used smaller needles to make a tighter mitt for my small hands

Comments: Very nice pattern, long wrists and long thumb for extra warmth. The edging was originally published in 1840 and translated by Franklin Habit. I wanted to use it in something but Star beat me to it! I also learned how to do an invisible/sewn bind-off though it came out a wee bit tighter than I would have preferred. I need to learn to do it more loosely. Still it was pretty easy after all the Kitchener-stitch sock toes I’ve done.

Yes, I now have quite enough fingerless mitts/gloves. Need another pair with fingers however. One to wash and one to wear.

Now I have kneesocks and fingerless mitts and I still have some of that yarn left from the humungous skein I bought in June at the ANWG conference in Spokane. What can I do next with the remaining 150 g? Maybe a Baktus scarf? One combining the Lacey version and the Ruffled version maybe? That would be cute!

I’m also trying to finish a last-minute gift. I mean, isn’t everyone? I’d hate to be left out of the insanity. Nearly done. Will blog after the giftee gets it. Off to buy raisins for the Christmas Butter Tarts!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Exam Time

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” 
Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)

For the last couple of years, I’ve been going into the New Year with a word to inspire me. In 2008 it was “contentment”. This year it was “harmonize” and I think I’ve done an ok job of working on that theme. Apart from losing my birth mom, things have been going fairly smoothly. I feel stronger and healthier than I’ve been in a number of years (not counting whatever allergies are affecting my feet and hands – and it’s improving finally). I got a lot of work done in the garden and in the house. Stuff sorted and reorganised. More to do still, naturally, but things are on track. Going with the flow. Not even annoyed by the tidal wave of Christmas. I’m harmonizing! Heh. I’ll spare you the singing part. Be grateful.

So now that I’m all “harmonized”, I’ve been trying to find a new word for 2010. I’m leaning toward “conserve”. In preparation I looked it up and it has some expressive synonyms:

  • save
  • keep
  • husband
  • support
  • hoard
  • sock away
  • squirrel
  • spare
  • safeguard
  • protect
  • store
  • manage wisely

I like “sock away” especially (I have a lot of socks!) but we can skip the “squirrel”. You know how I feel about those rodents!

We’re already doing a lot of that conserving stuff around here anyway. T-Man isn’t retired yet but we are beginning to plan for the inevitable. Two more years of work is the goal but the choice may be out of his control before then. Meanwhile, we stockpile tools, equipment, materials and future projects while investing in home repairs and replacements while we still have enough money to do it properly. Our house is small enough so that we don’t rattle around in it. There’s no point in contemplating downsizing yet. Besides, we need space for all the tools and craft supplies! And we have no desire to leave our neighbourhood which is relatively quiet and yet very central. Nearly everything in walking distance and lots of easy transit for any farther trips. What’s not to love? Apart from the upkeep on an old house and oversized yard.

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”  William James (1842 - 1910)

It’s true. But enough of this navel gazing. Back to crafty stuff here! Well, I was waiting for some combination of light and T’s attention to get a photo of me in my Green Peace Sweater so I can post it as an FO. Unfortunately that convergence of events hasn’t happened yet. But here’s how far I’ve gotten on the Sleekit Mitts, which I like very much:

SleekitMitts_prog I’m knitting them on smaller needles than called for so they will fit my impossibly tiny hands. They match my kneesocks! I’m nearly done now. I’ve also resurrected the Bubbly Beret from Crochet-Limbo and am nearly done the top section. To recap, this is the pattern “Crochet Bobble Beret” by Robyn Chachula from Knitscene, Fall 2009, and I’m making it in STR Lightweight, colour Ravenscroft. I had to frog back to the beginning and start again because my tension loosened up and I made a mistake somewhere that I couldn’t track down. The pattern doesn’t mention that the “bobbles” appear on the back of the work so you’re actually working from the wrong side. Also there is knitting for the brim which doesn’t bother me any, but I can see some who are exclusively Of The Hook complaining mightily. I say, learn a new skill. It won’t kill ya; it’ll make you stronger! Yes, I’m always and ever the enabler.

Oh and I went to my guild meeting yesterday. I wore my green sweater (warm!) and my Winter Bling Scarflettes. We had a yummy potluck and played a silly Christmas Bingo game. My Blue Star Garland found a new home with a new (and talented) member, originally from Iran. Lovely lady was very happy with her gift! And I won a little basket (thanks, Irene!), supposed to be for garlic I think:

Basket1 But I found a better use:

Basket2Don’t you agree it works great as a yarn ball holder? Now all it needs is a handle to put over my arm for portability. Knitted, braided or crocheted?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My New BFF

I was in the dollar store the other day hunting for a new shower curtain liner – preferably in a colour other than beige, white or clear. Found a nice soft green one that works nicely in my bathroom for a whole $1.99. I also found a hot water bottle. Now, I know there are loads of people who swear by their “hottie” but I haven’t had one of these blobbing rubber beasts since I was a little girl in the 1950’s. Since then I’ve used an electric heating pad that requires an available electrical plug close by or a “magic bag” that needs frequent microwaving and is either too hot or too cold. Awhile back when I was going frequently to my physiotherapist, she would apply a huge and very heavy hot water bottle on my neck and back (along with the electrical stimulus electrodes) to warm and loosen my muscles before massaging. But it never occurred to me that a small one might be a nice thing to have in my chilly house. I’ve been seeing a lot of knitted hot water bottle cosies lately so I made a snap decision to try it. It was only $3.99 so no biggie if it didn’t work for me.

My house is pretty old and drafty and we keep the daytime temp at 17° C. (62.7° F.). I wear lots of warm clothes in layers but sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra heat on the feet or back if I’m sitting around for any length of time. This sucker fills with hot tap water, which in our house is only about 50° C. (120° F.), and stays gently warm for several hours. Nice. I have warm feet! Bottle now; cosy to come later. Specific pattern TBA. (Likely not the cute penguin in the new issue of Knitty though.)

But wait! The best part of my new hot water bottle, which was made in China and imported to St. Laurent, Quebec, is the plastic bag it came in. It says (all spelling, punctuation and grammar intact):



1 Heat water bag is used in medical treatment health and common live to get warm.

2 The water temperature that the heat water bag used should be around 90°C. The water should be not over 2/3 than the capacity of the heat water bag.

3 After filling water, must let the air in the heat water bag out and let the screw tight. Check if there is leak water phenomenon.

4 When baby use the heat water bag, should let the heat water bag a little far from baby.

5 When the heat water bag is used or storage must avert it to be weight on or stabed, not touch sour, alkali, oil and sunlight shoot.

6 Storage heat water bag should fill a little air inside. Put it in shady environment.

7 The dire on the heat water bag can be washed by soap water than use water wash it clean.

8 The heat water bag should not be put in the display window so long time, especially the display window in the sunlight shoot.

OK. I solemnly promise not to stabe it or keep it in the sunlight shoot. I’ll definitely watch for any leak water phenomenon. And heaven forefend it should touch sour! Yikes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Don’t Aim For Perfection

Because I would definitely miss and hit something else instead! Remember the Green Peace Cardi? Wondering why you haven’t seen the finished photo? Disappointingly I had to frog about 6” because it looked like a skirt on the bottom. Not a flattering shape. I was a bit worried before I blocked it that the hem was flaring. Heh. Should have listened to my worry-voice because it looked even worse afterward. It was telling me that the darn thing really needed me to take out 3 of the 6 increase rounds which meant ripping out rather precipitously. The only good thing about this is that because it was knit top-down, it’s easy to take out the bind-off and frog upward. I’m now re-knitting back down. Heavy sigh. At least I’m fairly sure that it will be correct this time. Fairly. Sure.

So where have I been for the last few days? Definitely not enjoying a 3-day migraine Thursday to Saturday which finally petered out leaving me feeling kind of hung-over and tired. We were also up really late Friday night (well, it was late for us!) babysitting Stargazer while his parents went out for dinner with friends. His sister was at Other Grandma’s for a sleepover so we had him all to ourselves. Magically he is now pretty much toilet-trained since we last saw him a couple of weeks ago. Little people sure grow up fast, huh? It’ll be his 3rd birthday already at the end of the month. We went over to their house on Saturday evening to deliver The Big Secret, a combined Christmas and birthday gift that Grandpa T-Man made him: a special table for his “choo-choos” – by request from his mommy who will paint scenery on it and set up the tracks for playing. Stargazer is so fond of his wooden trains that he even takes them to bed with him! A bit lumpy when rolled over in the night, one would think. (His daddy settled for stuffies when he was small. They were much softer to lie on.) Oh, and I was given a fabu picture of Ariel the Littlest Mermaid drawn by 5-year-old Princess Pink. Check it out:

Ariel See the waves at the top so you know she’s under water? And her shell bra and teeny little green tail? Much more fun than the Disn*y character, IMO. She even did the title printing except for the L which needed some daddy-assistance. It’s signed by the artist of course, on the back. Five-year-olds see the world so refreshingly simply. I may have to frame it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Was Warned

But of course that didn’t stop me! I got my flu shots yesterday, both of them (H1N1 and seasonal) one in each arm, and today I feel crappy. My left arm (the oinker one) is puffy and both of them are sore. I have a headache and I slept badly, waking up every time I turned over – which was often. So all the ouchies had better be worth it! I’d just better not get any flu this winter. Just sayin’. T-Man, who already had his shots and knew what I was feeling, handed me an Advil and my tea in bed this morning. Awww…what a sweetie.

Besides my flu shots, I went to see my doc yesterday for the 4th (5th?) time about the eczema on my hands and especially my feet. This has been ongoing since May and neither slathering with 3 different prescription creams plus shea butter and handmade cream with tea tree oil nor figuring out that it’s being aggravated by allergy/sensitivity to black pepper and pork (go figure) and probably something else as well has helped it go away. I’ve never had eczema before that I know of. Darling Doc is admitting defeat and sending me to a dermatologist. It would be nice to get rid of the itchies that keep me awake at night and make it uncomfortable to walk as much as I like to do. Hope this Dr. Gray (no, not the TV one!) can help. I’m about ready to try anything.

Aside from feeling sorry for myself, I’m celebrating finishing my Green Peace Sweater (slight but obvious title change) and it fits! Yay! Only took 8 days to knit so now I understand why so many knitters like bulky yarn and fat needles. Much more immediate gratification! Right now it’s still drying on the sweater rack after I washed it yesterday. I didn’t think just steaming was adequate to block this vintage handspun yarn which is now somewhat felted. Plus it was still a little dusty even after I washed the sweater before I frogged it and the yarn again afterward. I used about 560 yards and had 225 g of yarn (about 185 yards) left so there was plenty. Enough left to make another Hill Country Hat maybe? (Not right now though.) Photos of the sweater are coming, maybe tomorrow when I have T available to take pics of me wearing it. I want to show how flattering this shape is on my lumpy self.

Since that sweater was such a success, I’m hoping to go back to the Green Star sweater I started last summer. It’s been languishing because it needed more modification to fit me which takes…gasp! Math! I can do it. I just don’t enjoy it. Which makes me tend to avoid it. Probably the reason I don’t knit as many sweaters as I’d like. I’m trying to get over that.

It’s supposed to snow here over the next few days. That oughta make it a bit more festive, if somewhat more difficult to get around in. I’m recalling last winter’s record snowfalls:

P1020960After that fiasco the city finally made it mandatory to shovel all public sidewalks near your home or business. They even suggested helping out your neighbours if they aren’t able to do it. (Too bad folks need public reminders to be kind, huh?) Hope they follow through. Otherwise I’m just staying home until it melts.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Scattered Like The Leaves

And if this cold weather keeps up it’ll be snowflakes that are scattering instead! At least I thought that I was feeling scattered but pondering on it more I realise that I’ve actually been focusing quite hard. Harder than usual even. I’ve been hunkered down most of the last couple of days knitting madly on my Peace Cardi and reading at the same time. I’m currently zooming down the body and heading towards the hem. Plus I finished the crocheted scarfies:

Holiday Bling Scarflettes

ScarflettesBegun: December 4, 2009

Completed: December 9, 2009

Yarns: Flat scarf: Classic Elite Yarns Imagine, worsted weight, cotton/rayon, colour 9212 (variegated gold, green and red), 93yds = 50 g, 1 skein. Twirly scarf: Berroco Seduce, DK weight, rayon/linen/silk/nylon, colour 4435 gold (really more of a bronze), 100 yds = 50g, 1.4 skeins.

Hooks: Imagine yarn: 5mm aluminum Aero. Seduce yarn: 4.5mm Clover SoftTouch.

Pattern: Cool Warmth by Amy O’Neill Houck (from CrochetMe), flat scarf only.

Scarflettes detMy Twirly Pattern:

Chain to desired scarf length (mine is just over 2m). Turn.
Row 1: Sc in each ch across. Turn.
Row 2: Ch 5, sc in next st, (ch 4, sc in next st) across. Turn.
Row 3: Ch 3, (sc, ch 3) twice in ch-4 loop, *sc, ch 3) twice in next ch-4 loop, rep from * across, end ch 3, sc in last st.

Comments: This is actually a set of two scarflettes: one wider and slightly shorter and one longer and twirly. They aren’t that soft or warm so more for indoor wearing, one at a time or both at once. I went down a hook size for the flat wider one because the cord type yarn “Imagine” looked too loose. Then I went down another hook size for the twirly one in “Seduce” because it’s even thinner and more cord-like. I also modified the twirly pattern to my own design.

It took more than one ball of yarn to complete the gold scarflette. Luckily I had more! Instead of running the ends in (hard to do with this cord), I knotted them together tightly, coated the knot in FrayChek and clipped the ends closely. I crocheted the one in Imagine right to the end of the ball so no leftovers of that yarn. I like the way the colours pooled, though they shifted over the length of the scarf because I wasn’t trying to keep them lining up.

I couldn’t block the twirly one but I steamed the flat one and left it to dry overnight. No pins.

Of course the minute I finished this project I cast-on for another one! This is yet another pair of fingerless mitts called Sleekit (Rav link) by Star Rabinowitz. I don’t care if I have many pairs. I love them! And these will match my red knee socks.

I needed a small portable project for the doctor’s waiting room tomorrow anyway and didn’t want to start the leggings I want to make yet. That pattern is sized on the smallish side with 1” negative ease. My calves are quite small but I size up from there! So I need to do some (yikes!) math to adjust the leg increases to go from a medium at the bottom to an extra-large at the thigh and above. I want them to fit me properly – unlike the manufactured tights and leggings. At least I can try them on as I go.

Onward! And stay warm!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I Love Denise

No, not what you might think! That’s the Denise interchangeable circular needle sets and now including the crochet hook version too. It doesn’t cover everything (nothing smaller than 3.75mm/US5 or functional cable-with-points shorter than 17”) but it comes in very handy in ways that regular cable needles do not. I’m reminded of the advantages as I use them to knit my version of the Shalom sweater that I’m calling Peace. Besides the obvious knitting the yoke and body back and forth, I’ve used the cables and stoppers to hold the sleeve stitches. Picking up again just meant popping off the stoppers and popping on the tips. I also popped on my new crochet hook to help pick up the stitches from the underarm and popped it off again and replaced it with the needle tip to carry on. Yup, a lot of popping! When I want to try on the top-down sweater, I add a longer section or two to the cable with the little join pieces, change the needle tips to the stoppers so stitches don’t escape, and thereby avoid having to put the whole thing on a string.

Say what you like about plastic needles, the tips on these are nice and pointy, just the way I like them. And if they don’t slip as fast as the blunter Addi Clicks, they are adequate for the admittedly slow speed at which I normally knit. And perhaps the KnitPicks Options needles have a more secure join and more pretty tips (colourful wood, shiny metal and clear Lucite) to choose from, but I haven’t had to fish for a key or a paper clip to tighten or loosen Denise. Just a little quarter-turn click and we’re away to the races. If it pops off on its own it’s usually because I haven’t clicked the join in properly or I’ve twisted as I’ve pushed up tight stitches. It hasn’t happened often and it’s not exactly fatal.

The wonderful and innovative Cat Bordhi has embraced Denise needles too. I hope she has given them some cachet! Her expanded list of tricks are here if I haven’t blathered on enough for you. And of course I’ve knit one of her felted bags, the one with two zip pockets (pdf here). It holds both knit and crochet cases plus extras (longer cords, extra stoppers and joiners, larger tips, other knitting supplies) in the pockets.

So I know I’ve said all this stuff before, but every time I’m in the middle of a project using my Denise needles, it makes me happy. And when damselfly is happy, she bubbles over. In case you haven’t noticed.

Speaking of happiness, I’m pretty happy with the Peace sweater so far. The elderly yarn is holding up well and the pattern (with mods) seems to fit fine. Here’s the photo from a couple of days ago:

VGsweater_progSee all the Denise parts doing their jobs? Now I’m down nearly to the waist and because the body is mostly plain stockinette with garter front bands and a wee bit of shaping, it’s easy to do while reading. I’ve also finished the armholes to make it easier to try on. Instead of the 3 I wanted, I only put in two buttonholes which I hope will be adequate. I found 2 gorgeous big abalone buttons in my stash that are just perfect but there’s no chance of finding a 3rd matching one anyplace. These buttons are nearly as vintage as the yarn! I could sew them on now too, couldn’t I? Will do. Ah, the advantages of top-down in one piece. The disadvantage is a honking 2 pounds of wool to manoeuvre in one’s lap while knitting. I want this done asap! It’s cold around here. Minus 6 Celsius when I woke up this morning and no frost because it’s so dry. Brrrr…

Monday, December 07, 2009

Festivus Aftermath

I could get used to the amount of sun we’ve been having, even if it is really cold at the same time. I’ve been working on the kitchen table which is bright and not so cold now that I put up the shrink plastic over the crappy louvered window (that was supposed to be replaced by now but I’m still waiting). Actually I’ve also been working upstairs at my desk as well, but since it’s covered in bead and wire stuff for the oodles of stitch markers I’ve been making, I had to come down to the kitchen to find some free space to crochet on my Winter Bling Scarflettes that I want to wear to a couple of Christmas parties. More on them when they’re done.

Meanwhile, my Ravelry knitter’s group the Terminal City Yarn Wranglers (no, I had no input into the name but it does crack me up!) had a wonderful Festivus Miracle Swap o’rama on Saturday evening at Steamworks downtown. It was fun, though a bit noisy and crowded and hard to visit with everyone because we were all strung out on a very long table. I was stuck in the banquette but eventually was able to escape and schmooze down the other end for awhile. While I wouldn’t say I was happy with my food and drink – expensive fish and chips that gave me an upset tummy all night plus flat pear cider – the service was very accurate and attentive. The desserts were humungous and I was glad I didn’t succumb or I would have had even more tummy trouble than I did! However the company was fun and I think most everyone really enjoyed their gifts.

I personally lucked out and my swap partner, the darling beentsy, gave me this wonderful Treasure Chest:

TreasureClockwise from the top that would be fabulously well-fitting fingerless mitts in a gorgeous terracotta Malabrigo Sock yarn, Ferrero chocolates, the rest of the Malabrigo yarn, stitch markers, tiny tins of Burt’s Bees hand and cuticle creams, and Handmaiden sea silk for spinning all in a fabulous red-flocked box with a gold embossed lid. Whoo! I don’t normally get gifts that I like (one of the reasons I don’t give many either) but this is all so perfect right down to the package it came in. Thanks, Tammy! You da bestest!

Wanna see those mitts again?

OrangeFMsPlease admire the cunning little leaves on each side of the thumb with cabled stems down to the wrist. I’ve already worn them in public to much acclaim. BTW, the sneaky woman was knitting these right in front of me at knitting meetup! I was so admiring them too and wondering which pattern she used. Now they are mine! All mine. Why is it that the colour orange makes me incredibly happy? I may have to see if I can get a cowl out of the rest of the yarn to coordinate with my mitts, huh?

So of course now I can blog about the gift that I made for my friend Lauren (laurendw on Ravelry):

Fishtail Scarf

FishtailScarfBegun: sometime at the end of September or beginning of October, 2009 (I forgot to note the date!)

Completed: November 7, 2009

Yarn: handspun 2-ply fingering weight, spun from Ashland Bay merino top purchased at Birkeland Bros, colour “Baltic” blues with a hint of maroon and green.

Beads: 6° copper-lined grey AB.

Needle: Aero 30” circular, 3.25mm

Hook: .5mm (for applying the beads)

Pattern:Teardrop Scarves” by Celeste Culpepper, from Knitscene Fall ’07. Errata noted.

Mods: made the longer size on 326 sts but only 2 repeats of the pattern.

Comments: Quickly ran out of yarn (leftovers from another project) and had to spin more. First try turned out too fine so back to the spinning wheel. Used the Victoria with regular flyer on second-lowest ratio (1:8.5). I was trying for soft yet properly plied. Even with a “feelie” sample it was hard for me to keep the thicker size and the results were still a little finer than the original yarn I was trying to match. Worked out ok anyway.

I added the beads with a crochet hook instead of a dental floss threader as the pattern suggests. I also knit the bead stitch after adding the bead instead of just placing it on the right needle unworked.

The pattern was considerably fuzzy on a few points even with the errata. I fudged a bit where I was unclear and it came out reasonably symmetrical. Noticed a loose stitch (slipped out of a k2tog) after it was totally finished so stitched it up with a separate piece of yarn. Unfortunately it looks a little rough but it’s in the section that goes around your neck. (Nobody will see it. Heh!) I blocked the finished scarf to 5.5” wide by 75” long using pins and blocking wires. It looked a bit scalloped on the edge afterward so I steamed the edges. I could visibly see the knitting oozing back in! It ended up about 5” wide by 73” long. Not as small as I feared it might be when I started this project. Feels soft. I think Lauren likes it. Yay!

I also included a selection of teas, a couple of organic free-trade chocolate bars, a whole flock of handmade stitch markers (which I totally forgot to photograph) and a Sivia Harding pattern for a Faroese-shaped shawl with Shetland lace that should be somewhat of a challenge to knit. It was fun to put this all together. I can handle making up a present for one person at a time. I think. Especially one who appreciates handwork.

One more party with my weavers’ guild to go. Then on to the family stuff. Whew. Remind me to stick with my local fish’n’chips shop where the food is so much better and less than half the price. No tummy ache.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I’ve Got The Blues Again

Blue sky, that is. Nice to see in winter, I’ll tell you! One does get a little tired of the perennial grey around here. Of course, along with the blue sky comes frost. I think my mizuna is done for and I didn’t pick a bunch of it the other day when I had the chance. Le sigh. Oh well, I still have a bit of lettuce in the fridge and hopefully the tah tsai is going to survive for a few days longer. It’s pretty cold-hardy. Whatever happens, I consider 2009 to be a very successful garden year. Must have been because I managed to keep on top of things – well, most of the time anyhow.

Our monthly Spectrum Study Group met yesterday and had a lovely time as usual. Even though I didn’t really do anything but knit, chat, drink tea and eat. They’ve collectively decided (when I wasn’t able to attend) to carry on a colour study, each choosing a colour and playing with it in their journals and then hopefully into something more tangible. I haven’t started playing yet, but I think I’ll choose blue since that seems to be the colour I’ve been messing about with lately. Woad dyeing and all. Interestingly, although blue is the most popular colour in western society, it’s not really my favourite colour. My one and only pair of jeans is dark grey (black and white really but it blends optically), not blue. I do have a few blue items, most notably my indigo-dyed (by me) hemp jacket that I made a number of years ago and still wear quite often. But I can’t say I would choose blue first out of a pack of colours. I normally gravitate towards the orange/red section of the spectrum, preferably deep and muted or toned or muddied up some. I do loves me my tertiaries!

So that leaves me with a challenge that it seems I’ve already started to meet in spite of my best efforts to avoid playing along. My last 3 knit/crochet projects were blue and even the legwarmers contain blue as one of the colours in the yarn. I also have a selection of fabrics and fibres and even more yarn that have all recently come in contact with my woad experiments. More blues. My buddies in Spectrum commented yesterday that they never normally see me in blue and there I was wearing one of my cotton scarves that I dyed in the Maiwa woad workshop.

Several other Members had chosen red, one chose teal green and one chose yellow. Sandra said that she needed a bright sunny colour to chase away the winter blahs! We all know what she means for sure. Now she is seeing how many yellows there are in our environment. Focusing on one thing makes you see it everywhere! It’s an interesting exercise, don’t you think? Guess I’ll have to get out the old art journal and the paints and glue stick and such and have at it.

ColoursFromNature Speaking of colours, last time I was at Maiwa Supply I picked up a copy of Jenny Dean’s most recent little book called “Colours From Nature: A Dyer’s Handbook”. Jenny intends this to be a replacement for her 1996 out of print book “Natural Dyeing Without Chemicals” which I’ve never been able to find. Unlike her two other books which I do own, this one has no gorgeous photos of dyed fibres and dye plants. However it’s chock full of procedures, recipes and other helpful information in an easy-to-use format and includes information not in her other books. This is THE modern natural dye book to have! It was rather pricey at C$29.95 but it’s going to become my dyer’s bible, I can tell. Perhaps I should scan the pages, print them out and put them in page protectors to keep a copy in the dye studio. Yeah, I know that’s probably a big copyright no-no, but I’m betting if I asked her, Jenny would approve. I’m sure she means this book to be used – not sitting on a shelf. But I’d sure hate to spill something on it rendering this expensive book unreadable! Plus her books tend to go out of print, rendering them rather irreplaceable. I do like the way this woman works. Her considerations and procedures very much follow my own, though she is much more experienced than I am with natural dyes. I spent a very long time with synthetic dyes instead and am only recently leaning over to the more sustainable side.

Besides Jenny’s, a couple of other of my other favourite natural dye blogs also include a whole lot of really useful information. First is Leena Riihelä from Finland. Her blog is written in both English and Finnish. She grows her own Finn sheep and has a small business, Riihivilla, producing natural and botanically dyed yarns and knitting kits. Her specialty is mushroom dyeing and she gets wonderful colours from them. Then there’s Helen and her friend Enys of Growing Colour who garden with dye plants and use them to dye fibres in Wales, UK. Helen teaches workshops in felting and uses her dyes to make thickened and stabilised inks for her paintings. Then there’s the blog from Renaissance Dyeing situated in France which also has a lot of great information for natural dyers. And there’s Teresinha Roberts’ Wild Colours website. She doesn’t have a blog but she has put up what amounts to an entire natural dye handbook! One more really great dye resource comes from Bjo Trimble of Griffin Dyeworks: her comprehensive Understanding Mordants and Modifiers. This will help you translate all those weird chemical names, whether scientific, colloquial or historical.

Such fun taking roots and leaves and bark and bugs and using them to colour things! It’s very exciting and you never quite know what results you’re going to get. More like alchemy and less like science.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It’s Alright Now

Okay, it’s officially December. I can tolerate all the Holiday Hype much better after December 1st. So now you can go for it! And I will behave myself with decorum.

Hey, I even put up a seasonal bouquet in my front door basket! I was hoping to get some winter pansies for it but never saw any good ones. So after I finished tidying up my veggie garden yesterday afternoon, I used some of the old oregano stems with lovely purplish seed heads plus some of my neighbour’s fir twigs that had blown over to my side in the wind to make a nice bunch. Because it’s only in a plant pot with no water or anything it probably won’t last too long but that’s fine. Looks nice for now. Though I had to weight it down with rocks to make the thing stay put!

This morning it finally feels like winter. There’s quite a frost for the first time and it’s clear and cold. Nice change after all the rain we had in November. Glad I finished up the garden though I’m not sure that the fall rye seeds I planted so late will do much. That stuff is pretty tough though so I’m holding out hope that it will still germinate before the birds eat it or it freezes to death. So now the back yard is all done! A little bit of cleanup remains on the east side of the house and some in the front garden, but another afternoon’s work should see that finished too. Who needs a gym for a workout? I have my exercise – and a blister on my thumb from the clippers. Ouch. Yes, and I was wearing my super-good gardening gloves too.

Sadly I regret not using the last of my woad. Things just didn’t align. I think it might be too late now that they’ve had some frost. Plus I don’t really have anything that I want dyed at the moment. Not to worry. It can go in the compost and I’ll begin again next spring. I have some of Bleu de Lectoure’s woad if I need blue in the meanwhile.

So what have I been up to besides gardening? The Woad Hat is washed and blocked and hasn’t dried enough yet for a photo. I knitted a swatch for the Shalom sweater. I’ve washed and blocked it too so I need to wait until it dries to assess where I will change the pattern to fit me. Funny thing – I’m not quite as tall and skinny as the designer! And it only comes in one size so mods are necessary for a lot of people. I love when they kindly document their changes on Ravelry. What a great resource! I have a lot of ideas there to contemplate.

I finally had a chance to photograph the completed legwarmers:

Candy Legwarmers

CandyLegwarmersFor: Princess Pink

Begun: November 22, 2009

Completed: November 29, 2009

Yarn: Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Socka mit Rosskastanien (horse chestnut!), 420m = 100g, unknown colourway since the label is stuck! Long repeat in this printed yarn, nearly 2/3 of the length. Used about 60g (275 yds).

Pattern: “Pickles – Little Girl Legwarmers” by Beth LaPensee (, free pattern

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns, set of 5, 3mm

Mods & Comments: Used 52 sts and sock yarn alone. Mohair not a good choice for a child whose daddy is allergic to animal hair! Superwash wool is tolerated.

Knit leg 1/2" longer and top ribbing 1.5" longer for a finished measurement of 15" long (2" longer than pattern states). Hopefully these will fit for awhile. If they're a hit, I can make more pairs.

The yarn softened up a lot in the finishing but some pink colour came out in the wash water staining the adjacent white area slightly pinkish. Rinsed further in Synthrapol and water was clear. I’m hoping that they won’t bleed any further now.

This kid loves her skirts but plays outside at kindergarten in the dead of winter. This granny was thinking that warm over-the-knee wool would supplement her nylon tights to keep her from getting cold.

I also got a copy of Barbara Walker’s “Knitting from the Top” from my guild’s library. The library card attested to the fact that I took this out before in 1994! However, this time it finally makes sense to me. Perhaps I must be a more experienced knitter now? Anyhow this is quite an amazing book when you consider that Barbara practically invented the top-down approach to garment construction. Don’t be put off that it only has a couple of black and white photos, a few line drawings and a whole lot of text. It is incredibly complete in covering design considerations for sweaters, capes, skirts, pants and caps. Unfortunately I haven’t yet been able to find a copy to purchase unless I order directly from Schoolhouse Press which has reprinted the original or Amazon in the US. Canada doesn’t seem to have any copies available at the moment for some reason.

Now that I have a couple of top-down items off the needles and one more that will soon be going onto them, I’m becoming quite fond of this one-piece method of construction. Not that I actually mind sewing pieces together (unlike a lot of knitters!) but why make flat pieces like dressmaking when you can use the 3D sculptural qualities of knitting to advantage. The one thing that really stopped me in the past was the fact that most raglan and circular yoke garments don’t look good on my sloping shoulders. Who knew you could do set-in sleeves in one piece? Yes, Wendy Bernard covers this in her book “Custom Knits” but I also need a shoulder slope and I was disappointed that she doesn’t include this modification in her designs. She has square shoulders! At least compared to me. This book has the clues I need to make a sweater from the top that will fit and flatter me properly. I see an experimental garment in my future.

Might be the distant future though at the rate I’m going. I’ve got nothing portable to work on currently and the ones I want to make or have already started and stalled need some calculations and design decisions made. I’ve been avoiding them. Have I mentioned I’m calculexic? I need to draw pictures because I can’t imagine shapes well in 3D and write down numbers because they don’t stick in my head. I need quiet and concentration – and my pet calculator.