Friday, 31 August 2007

The end of Summer

If you live farther south, this might not be true for you, but here, the September long weekend marks the end of summer. It cools significantly at night. The sun just doesn't have the power to heat things up from its lowered arc in the sky, the days are already much shorter. If you didn't like fall it would be difficult to live in this country.

Thankfully I love fall. I love the smell in the air, the feel of the cool quiet as you walk your favourite paths. Its a time of settling, of taking stock, of quiet contemplation after spring and summers riotous growth.

We are off to Rock Lake. Hopefully it will be cold, rainy and generally yucky, because that means only the hardiest of souls will be in the campground, and they will be there as we are, waiting for the animals. I have many layers of clothing, and plenty of warm socks, so I will stay cozy. I have lots of warm projects to work on by the fire.

I am going to give the sweater a really big push. I hope to get both sleeves done, and I hope to get the last front done. Once those are done it takes no time at all to finish. There are still some challenges ahead. I've never finished a sweater with a zipper closure before, and I still have to decide what I want to do on the collar - small cabling in blue, or plain stitches in blue? I've taken along moms socks, and I have the bright yellow yarn in my bag to work on some simple socks for me, I have taken the lace.

This most of all I want to do. I really want to get my little lace project to the wrist. Once I do that, I want to start on the other one and get it to the same point. I have a fear that if I don't work it this way, I'm going to lose track of how I am doing decreases, and I'll end up with two very different end results. Its a good thing that the very fine needles came in a set of 5. I can begin with an end of yarn, on the other two needles, and off I go.

Anyway, I'll be busy, with that, with walks round the lake, needlework, and as always, an assortment of books.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Swell yarn

When I was a kid, my mom and dad used to colour with us in our colouring books. Mom always did beautifully shaded and outlined work, and dad made all the girls dresses red. He used to say red dresses were swell.

This yarn might not be red but it sure is swell.

Blue Moon Socks That Rock, Alina (now discontinued - I'm wondering if there will be enough), medium weight. The true effect is so muted by the screen, the green tones are upped, and the blue softened, but well you know what I mean. Scrumptious. I had to fool for quite a while to get gauge, so this is the sum total of my evenings work, but I am absolutely thrilled so far. The pattern is forming these lovely ridges, with a chain looking stitch lying across the crest, made by crocheting in the back loop on one row. Its not really a difficult stitch pattern, but it is innovative in the way its put together. Or rather the way it isn't put together. Its all crocheted in one piece, side to side. I am going to enjoy this one, I can tell. Excuse me while I go sigh over the yarn now.

I love working with Blue Moon yarns. It too, is swell. It is simply the finest yarn anywhere. That does not even take into account the wondrous colours.

I worked on my warm sweater this morning, and completed the right front (or is it left?). The second front won't take long, and then sleeves. Maybe all the various parts will be close to completion after this weekend. I hope so. I really enjoy all the little things that lead to the point you can wear it. Even working in threads ranks high in my books as fun on occasion.

That might be taking it too far. The weekend is coming, I'll do a sanity check then.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Last night I felted the swatch of Loft and Patons Classic Merino.

Oh right, I forgot to mention Patons Classic Merino. I went shopping. I swear it was a safe yarn source. I knew Micheals had the classic, and the rest of the bins are usually picked over fairly good. I figured it would be a piece of cake, that there would be no surfeit of yarn purchases, no budget blowing, no yarn fumes.

I must have caught a full shipment. There was Patons, in every mix, in every colour, in every line, there was eighteen thousand colours of SWS Soy. There was sock yarn, darn it.

Before I knew it, I had my one planned skein of Aran coloured Classic Merino, 2 skeins of Kroy, and I was searching through bins of some of the new variegated colours of SWS Soy counting how many skeins I needed to do a vest or sweater.

And then I saw that Lion Brand had some really nice pure wools in store too. I was in heaven, and then I realized it was really that sneaky devil, making me think it was heaven. The budget was already blown, September was still a week away, and Micheals had yarn. This was the worst of all possible scenarios.

I put down all but the approved skein, backed slowly away, and went too look at needles. I picked up the 4 mm ones I needed, and I left, averting my eyes as I walked back past the yarn section. All I can say is its a good thing yarn is not like candy in the aisles of grocery stores. I be sunk if they did that.

But its going to take me weeks to get over it.

So anyway, I picked up the merino and did up a swatch, with some loft attached. Then I faced my greatest fear of how to felt. I have felted before inadvertently, but never on purpose. I did have a problem. My washer is a front loader, and is too gentle for felting. I thought for a bit, and realized my mixer would work. I thought of it because somewhere in my mind, the little washer that Jo at Celtic Memory has reminds of this big underused equipment in my kitchen. Its a one of these. I boiled some water, put on the paddle, and mixed it slowly for 15 minutes. It was a thing of beauty. It was beyond beauty, how nicely it felted in there. The picture is at home. In the other work bag. I meant to bring it, but I got distracted by yarn fumes, and I knew the only way to deal with it would be to do something else I crave.

I brought this to the office to swatch. I'm looking forward to it. It might compensate for all the SWS but I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Of Fairy Doors and Special Things

Some days you find joys in unusual places, and things with so much meaning that its hard to speak. Today is such a day.

I have a friend

who I don't know

His house is in my village though.

MinxterBlooms knows all about fairy doors and how tiny doors open pathways to Forever Land. Some ripples begun with one small word in friendship and laughter echo in hearts forever.

Last evening was quiet work-wise. I spoke with the Girl about a scarf and there is no need, but I can see the yarn working well for mitts, but secretly I'm thinking a bag. I've worked up a small sample to felt and am going to see how the 2 yarns work together. Do they felt at the same rate? If not, I'm still going to give it a go, but construction will happen post felting.

Then again, coordinating scarves and neck warmers, might magically appear. A lot of things are magical. Maybe this will be one too.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Calorimetry and more

The weekend played out as I thought it might. I wasn't able to keep my hands off that scrumptious Loft yarn at all.

I worked like the dickens on my sweater and got the back done and am very close to completing the first front side.As you can see I opted for a cable along the zipper edge. If the world works as it usually does, I've also guaranteed that I will now have at least on skein of Ragg yarn left over. I'm pleased with the way its going. I'd have the second front under way if it weren't for cable errors and figuring what cable would look best.

While watching Harry Potter last night (CBC - month long Harry Potter event), I started Calorimetry and had it completed but for the last 4 rows or so. It seemed huge. Dinosaurean. Herculanean. I was going to run out of yarn. I checked my gauge, I checked my needle size, I checked the dimension of the piece. I checked the pattern...

Oh, right. Work to the last 2 stitches, turn, slip one, work 2 in pattern mark. I did that pretty much all along. Except for the work to the last 2 stitches part. No where but the first row did I do that. So back to the drawing board, lesson learned. READ the pattern.

I woke fairly early again, and while watching early news, redid the whole darn thing, 10 percent shorter - it needed that anyway - and did the right number of stitches on each end, and finished up just after 6, when its time to get ready for work. I'm pretty pleased, and I hope The Girl is too. This project, is one I'd do again. Nice quick, utterly rewarding and gives me the chance to use yarn I would not otherwise use. The other skein of lovely yarn will be done up into a scarf, ribbed, to coordinate,I think, and alternating in stripes with some good quality Aran yarn.

I'll need to go yarn shopping. Isn't that a nice way to start a week.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Oh what a tangled web

Thankfully the web is not the yarn. I could not wait, I admit, I broke out the big needles last night and I've swatched a few times with Loft. Sheer. Utter. Pleasure. And the colours. Calorimetry awaits and I'm having a very very hard time resisting.

This kind of yarn is why people knit. Crocheters take heed. Don't let the knitters be the only ones playing with this luscious stuff. I think it would work up equally well crocheted. I have a feeling it would make a wonderful felted bag. That would be because it is a felting yarn, but I digress.

Crocheters need to be bolder, need to take our craft to a new level. Its really nice to see some movement over the last 10 years where top designers are paying attention to the very diverse world of crochet. Now its up to us crocheters to move out, to scale up the daring we show in our work. Go out. Get some really great yarn. Make something, small, but wonderful, just because you can.

Its very easy for me to say that while I'm working on a crocheted sweater with very basic shaping, and acrylic yarn. (I did more of that this morning. 2 rows left on the back) Its nice yarn, and I need a workhorse sweater in my wardrobe. I'm thinking about being daring. I'm wondering if cables in a solid blue going up the centre of the arm would look good, and then repeating up the center edges of the fronts. And maybe the collar should be cabled? See this is how I get into trouble. Start plain, simple, get mildly bored by the size of the thing, and start tweaking.

It has nothing to do with the simple fact that I'm sure as shooting going to be one measly ball of yarn short.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Frantic Searches for Seriously Good Yarn.

Yesterday at lunch I decided I had to escape the office. I have gone to the river valley for several months to work on projects, but its been a little cool for that. Possibly my thinking its too cool to work, is that I'm chicken but there is also a pretty good chance that I just needed to get it out of my system. Yarn buying that is.

The urge built for days, and I tried so hard to be good. But since I came across Calorimetry, its been non stop semi-lust at my house since. I couldn't stand it any more, and just had to go and look. According to my blog its only been 3 days, but I'm pretty sure that its been weeks, since I lusted after lovely yarn in worsted weight. Maybe my blog lies. I am weak.

There were so many good choices. Some wondrous yarns from Finland, some alpaca, some of my most favoured Blue Moon yarn were all looked at and chosen. And then I spotted this.

Zitron 'Loft' yarn. Its a felting yarn, but I think it will be OK. Heck The Girl and I might decide to felt the project anyway. A headband like that, felted? Yeah, it would work in a big way. I fell in love with the colour - the picture doesn't do it justice at all - and the feel of it. Oh my. I'm almost sure I'll have to work on this tonite. I just don't know if I'm strong enough to resist.

I did resist this morning. It was easy, there was a distinct chill in the study. I worked on the sweater, and have about 6 rows, maybe 8, to finish off the back. I might make a small change in the pattern yet. It has a straight across the back of the neck collar area, and in Lily Chin's Couture Crochet, she talks a little about better fitting back neck areas. If I drop some stitches on the last row at the neck, the fit of the finished project might be better. Then on to the fronts, which I've already planned to change. A full zipper to turn it into a jacket instead of the polo type neck the pattern shows.

So many projects, so little time. Why do I work when there are better things... oh right. Work deals with that little yarn buying problem I seem to be developing.

Oh, and that little hank of white stuff? Unspun yarn. For the soles of slippers. Yeah some of those are in the works too.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Preparing for Fall

August is preparing for fall in a big way here. Nights have been very cool, and temperatures are not much above the 20C range. There is a desperation to August that isn't there in most months. Do all the summer things now, live summer big, cause winter is here soon enough. August is a month of preparing for winter, for routine, for normal.
I must be very much like a squirrel this August, putting away all his winter supplies, getting things done before snow, because last evening, I did a huge amount of work on the sweater. Its warmth beckons me and its the thing I seem to reach for. Its not particularly inspiring. The yarn is nice. The pattern is nice. The stitch is nice. Yet in combination, all these things are beyond nice.

This project is simple, warm, cozy. This project is like reading a book in front of the fire, this project is comfort food, this project is like a hug from my mom. It has no great style, it has no grandeur but its graces are greater for all that.

Sometimes projects beckon because we desire the finished article, sometimes they beckon for what they teach, sometimes for their challenges. Sometimes projects beckon because when you are done you will be nice and warm.

Its wonderful when simple is enough.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


After the last while with very few pictures, we have pictures!

Yep, completed black socks. I'm sure that everyone who ever knit black socks will understand when I say that black is troublesome and not very inspiring to work on. There still are tails to work in but that won't take too long. Meantime,

isn't that nice? Meilenweit, you lovely stuff you. I love the soft colour variations. I hope her feet say ahhhh. And if not, one of my very lucky sisters' feet will!

Instead of two socks on the go, I've a request for one of these. I came across that the other day via a link at Sally Comes Unravelled to Shut Up I'm Counting (both good blogs). The pattern says you should use a yarn with good spring in it. So hmm, what's going to be worsted weight with good spring. I sense some learning here, and then maybe some small purchasing. Surely a couple bucks for a single skein of yarn is OK, even outside of the budget. Heck that's even cheaper than sock yarn, right. Not a problem at all.

There, that was easy. Pure rationalisation followed by a frantic search for a seriously great skein of yarn.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Goals well met.

I finished the socks! I finished the socks! I am so thrilled at the completion of these darn socks, that I feel like a kid at a candy store.

I don't know what the heck happened to JaWoll, maybe its just a really bad batch, but it was coarse and hard on my hands. Not at all like the yarn I had come to love for its softness and its fineness. The heels need to be completed but that is just a short hour or so of work, and work in any loose ends, and I can send out the demo socks.

The plan is for dad to fit them, and show me exactly where they need to be smaller, bigger, whatever, so they can fit just perfectly.

I also got a fair bit done on mom's lace socks and on the sweater. This evening I'm going to work on the sweater once the socks are finished. There is such a need. Its chilly here in the office in the morning. And once that sweater is done, the vest with the lovely yarn. Can't wait.

Pictures at 11, so to speak. Black sock pictures aren't all that inspiring, but when they are blocked, they will be up.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Its Friday and I'm on the road

or rather, I will be. Off to Lethbridge tonight for a wedding tomorrow. Thankfully with the van, there is not a whole lot to pack other than clothes for the wedding, and we'll need to make a stop at the grocery store for fresh veggies and bagels. Otherwise its all there. If I never said it before, thanks to dad for getting Mr Needles acquainted with the idea of a vans as the RV of choice.

I did take a look at the work bag though. A 5 hour drive is a needlework free for all, and I in tend to get a lot done. Not on the lace. Its at a tricky point and its not something I can take apart easily. I have dad's 2 black socks to finish, and they will be ready for grafting, and indeed might be done by Sunday. And mom's sock is working just fine now, half way down the foot. I hope to get that one far up the calf before the weekend is over. I started a new skein on the sweater I am crocheting on last evening, and that's not going to take too long to work through. As I contemplated these on the go things, I also considered that hey my hands might be sore after all that, so I'd better have something to do just in case.

Off to the sock yarn stash bag. I took that nice bright yellow yarn, 2 different skeins, that I picked up a while ago, and some blue purchased just the other day (sock yarn isn't really yarn, its accessories, right?). If I need something to do, I can divide this yarn into balls for socks. And I still do have the lovely Red Bird Knits Romney yarn that I think will be a lacy scarf (in case mom can't wear the socks).

What balls for socks you ask? I've really enjoyed working with yarns where 1 skein is one sock. There's no stress, no worry about running out of yarn for sock 2. I've been dividing skeins where there is enough for a pair into two equal balls, so I can work in the same worry free way. Start with a toe, and up I go. All I really need to learn now is a short row heel, and I won't even need to worry about keeping enough for peasant heels.

This knitting adventure has been fun. There is a lot of learning happening as I make my way through socks, and all the many ways to do them. I haven't even used a pattern yet for any of the socks I made, just Yarn Harlot's recipe from Knitting Rules. I might one day decide to make some of the swanky patterns that are available, or buy a sock knitting book, but for now, that pleasure can wait. And then to think, there is a whole lot more crocheted sock ideas I have in my head.

I have in mind some socks with knitted soles, heels, and toes, but crochet on the calves. It could work right?

Thursday, 16 August 2007

What to do, what to do

Its been many months since I began carrying my work bag , first shown here, to the office. In all its glory, that 'puppy' has accompanied me these many miles, and been a short term home to many projects. It has occasionally functioned as my purse. Looking cool while carrying a Canadian beer cooler bag is hard but fulfilling work.

There have been only two occasions where the bag or one of the others, did not accompany me and both times, it was a grave mistake.

I had company coming for dinner, so I wanted to leave early, and didn't bother grabbing the bag. My work yesterday required the participation of someone else's server. That equipment was not cooperating. About lunch time I pretty much gave up on the process, and reached for my bag, to do a little something to take the edge off, as Yarn Harlot would say... only the bag wasn't there.

I had an hour free, with no plans, and no where to go (I'm still on the yarn embargo even if I did just pick up a little sock yarn to tide me over while searching for some needles), no one to have lunch with. I was so miffed at myself, that I could not even settle down to read my ultra emergency backup novel, currently John LeCarre's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

I'm wondering if I should make an emergency emergency needlework pack to keep at the office. Some small simple, no pattern required, one skein type project that I could have on hand for days when I am stupid enough to leave my bag at home. Like socks. Or a little embroidery. A little kit would work well. Maybe a little doily, or dresser scarf with a simple pattern repeat, filet crochet perhaps.

The idea has some merit. Cause this whole sitting around for an hour with nothing in my hands pretty much made me nuts. Thank heavens for the Internet.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Results of Man Tools

A couple weeks ago, I posted about adventures with man toys.

If you looked at the original blog item, you know the state of the first support post. It got worse from there. A lot worse. Only the last post had actual wood post still touching the pile. The two central posts only contained archaeological evidence of what may have been wood at some time past.

The concrete slab under the deck was doweled to the house. The deep freezing of winter, tended to push the slab up in winter and down in summer (or is it the other way around) resulting in bad things for the front entrance area, and even worse things for the upper deck.

So along with rebuilding the posts, Mr. Needles has now removed all of the concrete, and prepared for a new floor.

This is the lovely result.

It's positively porch-like.

Next summer, we will finish the decking all the way along the house.We'll do a decking walkway to the garage too (right now it's concrete pads - serviceable but really ugly), which means we will have to rework the stairs beside the house. Which means the flower beds there will need redoing. Which means its going to need some lawn repair. Which means that while we are repairing the lawn anyway, we might as well just redo the whole lawn to the west because it's just one big weed fest really.

Which is OK because what I haven't shown you, or talked about is what we are doing to the big lawn on the east side. It would break a man's heart.

I believe there are good things you can do with broken up concrete and I have all winter to convince Mr. Needles.

**No needlework was slowed by the above processes. I'm not allowed near power tools or machinery, with good reason. My job is to stay as far away as possible**

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Embroidery Found

This weekend as I was resting my hands, I thought about all the projects I have done over theses many years. I happened to be in my main bathroom gathering laundry and saw the bunch of orange poppies in the corner in a tall vase. They reminded me of a poppy picture I've been working on for that room. I haven't thought of that work in several years.

This is the most beautiful needlework book I own. The Secret Garden in Cross Stitch by Thea Gouveneur. It rates a Double Treble, maybe even a triple double treble. It is a what the heck are you reading this post for, you should be buying this luscious book sort of good. It is one of those books that even if you never did anything from it, would be a pleasure just to look at once in a while, to contemplate the loveliness of her designs.

The author's website shows many of her lovely designs, and lists 3 resellers in North America. There is a delicacy to her design that just takes your breath away.

Why has something so nice been left at the way side? Well it has problems. For anyone who has done any sort of counted thread work, the only real skill you need is the ability to count, which is, of course, the problem. There are several portions of the work, where it seems I forgot to count at all, much less count 1 or even 2. Its not like knitting where it all pulls apart in nice even rows. No. Unpicking an embroidered piece is nitpicking work. It takes a great deal of determination not to just toss the the thing and start all over.

This work I haven't even found the error. It is buried so deep and might go back to the very origins of the first stitch placed on the fabric. One day I will tackle it and decide one way or the other to toss it and start over, or to embrace it's flaws and work on. Just not today.

Today is for socks that are finally working out. I knit a lot last night, taking sock one for dad, past its peasant heel line to the blessedly unthinking stockinette stitch foot, and taking the ribbing (there's nothing wrong with that part so no ripping the ribbing) from the first sock, started the knit 3, purl 2 repeat, and worked in pattern for a couple of inches.

In a way, my day job is very good for my hands. Restful even!

Monday, 13 August 2007

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet

and take the things that have been impeding progress apart.

So I did, and then I reworked Dad's socks to this point. Actually quite a bit farther. It takes out the stiff heel problem and deals with the baggy ankle.

In my head as I was working on them, I have begun to call them my standard men's sock.

It felt freeing, to get that decision out of the way. I pulled out the blanket, and made really good progress on the squares, and I worked a bunch on mom's sock. I restarted back to the beginning of the decorative stitches. Sigh, not everything went well, so back to the drawing board. I'm not touching that lacy bit again until I have a clear enough brain to be move forward.

And I started this.

It doesn't look like much now, but it's a healthy start on a sweater. The weather this past week told me pretty darn clearly, sweater first, vest second. I fully intend to work this this sweater like wildfire - I need it badly for the soon to come chilly mornings. Its a nice little crossed single crochet in both directions, and a simple shape that will work up quickly. Its from the Plus Sized Sweaters to Crochet book from Leisure Arts, in fact its the yellow one shown in the link. The pattern is for a pullover but I'm making it a zip front jacket. That will work better when those late afternoon hot flashes show up.

I ended up crocheting and knitting so much that I think I'm getting a callus on my left hand just where the knitting needles brush my skin as I pick up the yarn, and my thumb on my right hand simply refused to do any more of anything.

So I also read a lot and spent some time online. I was looking at yarn again. I realized how very much I need more yarn. I have to get some kind of yarn for Mr Needles folk's socks, and I will need some for Son 3 and his lovely bride's socks, and by then Mr. Needles will need another pair, and then well, I've had a few requests for second pairs. And I could use a good scarf myself, and a hat for walking, and maybe some mitts...

All these things are on top of the embroidery (more on that later this week), and getting the hardanger pillow top done, and getting some Christmas ornaments crocheted, and then there is a plan to do a few more tatted covers for cheapie satin balls...

So many wonderful things to do, and not a moment to waste.

Friday, 10 August 2007


I like making a general plan for a weekend. It gives me the chance to go back on Monday and see how well I have done. Its sort of like a keeping score. This weekend:

I will work on the lace. I'm to the point where I had to think about how I was going to connect it at the wrist, and about decreases. I sort of have that process in my head now, and I figured out the decreases. I'm really hoping that I don't have to frog. I'd really hate to have to frog lace.

I have to go back and pick up a dropped stitch about 10 rows ago on moms socks. I'll be ripping that back tonight.

Dad's black socks? You'll notice how I have not spoken of those in a while. Well, I had son 1 try them on, and they fit fine, so they ought to do right on dad's slightly smaller feet, however...I just don't like that thread reinforced eye of partridge heel. The fabric is awfully stiff, and thick. I don't think dad will enjoy wearing them, because all he will feel is the heel. I've been contemplating ripping back all week to the heel, but when they were tried on, and the ankles were a little baggy (Dad's ankles are possibly slighter than even son1's) as well as the heel, well darn it, I've a mind to rip back the whole sock, and go back to the infinitely comfortable toe up peasant heel. Then again, I could leave them as is, finish the second one, and give them to son1, and just do dad's in that really nice Lornas Laces yarn burning a hole in the big box o' yarn. Its pewter coloured, which will be a whole lot more fun than black.

If I didn't have the crochet afghan to work on, and have the hardanger pillow top in the wings, all' I'd be doing is ripping or praying that I won't have to rip.

Some weeks, sometimes even months are like that when you do needlework. You work and work, and then realize that it was not even up to your most feeble standards. You are faced with the choice of putting it aside, and letting it think about it faults for a while, or you can boldy take out the flaw this very second.

In the real world you seldom get a do over, mistakes even when corrected can haunt you for years, can still influence final outcomes. Words and actions, even the lack of words and action, can't be taken back.

Needlework gives you the chance, in one tiny corner of your life, to correct, to go back, to where it's once again perfect, virginal, as if nothing ever was wrong with any stitch you ever placed. You are renewed, refreshed and clean.

Needlework is like boldly going where no man has gone before, but you look like the crew member who usually dies in the first minutes of an episode, only you don't die, you really are Captain Kirk, (or maybe Mr. Spock), some alien took over your body, made all those mistakes, but you vanquished him, and are back in charge.

Bet you never dreamed this would end with a Star Trek analogy.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

A cool and chilly day

here on the prairies. For proof, socks. I have a heavy Cotton sweater on, and I am still chilly.

These socks are the reason I simply love Meilenweit Cotton Fun(colourways 502). The toes, heels and ribbing at the top are done with Sisu. (Note to self: always make sure you have enough yarn - this pair, I'd have run out just before the final toe, so I filled in with Sisu) They are warm, they are snugly and they are crocheted. A yarn store once told me they always thought crocheted socks would hurt your feet with all the lumps. Silly yarn store. FYI, this is not the store I refer to as my LYS. I haven't been to that yarn store in a great while. Funny, that. If you doubt the concept of crocheted socks, these socks comfortably, warmly wrapped around my feet are a work of wearable art.

It was grocery night last night, so all I did was a couple of row on socks for my mom. They are testers. She has been having trouble finding comfortable socks, that don't hurt her feet. I'm going to try a pair for her knitted in the Cotton Fun because to date, they are my most cushy to wear. Its going to have a simple lace pattern, or maybe cables up the side, I've not decided. Anyway, my favourite toe up, peasant heel returns.

I have been looking for more crochet books, lately, ones with wearables. I found that the ones that stay in the shops are the ones I have. This morning, I bring to you yet another book review.

Crocheted Sweaters by Susan Huxley

This book has a great section how to section. She clearly discusses one of the biggest crochet conundrums of all time, the turning chain. (In my opinion, turning chains are going to be project specific issues. The turning chain has to be an integral part of the pattern on circular pieces such as doilies.) Good diagrams and instructions how to deal with it. In the same area she has good resources on needles sizes, patterns sizing used in the book, and she has a picture of yarn weights of all yarns used for projects in the book. A nice all around information and how to section.

There are some truly lovely designs in this book by a group of highly respected designers. I have made 3 designs from it, one of them twice. There are several more projects that I fully intend to make, I just need to find a yarn to inspire me. There is a design that uses beads. There are designs for some of the fun yarns that have been popular over the last few years. There are all kinds of things in here that can inspire you to expand your crochet horizons.

And yet, for all the great good in this book, it is has problems. The designs are uneven in quality. There are a couple of real stinkers and enough so-so designs that had I had a chance to view the book first, I probably wouldn't have bought it. The projects are photographed as is, no models, and this book makes me wonder if models wearing the sweaters wouldn't have displayed the designs to better advantage.

If this is your first pattern book purchase, give this one a pass. Its good, but not great. If you are looking to expand and inspire your crochet experience, give this one a pass. If you are looking for some good basic designs for all seasons, without a lot of fussy stitches, there is lots here to keep you working a good long while.

This books is rated a Half-double crochet on my bookshelves.

**Since I seem to be doing a lot of book reviews, I've come up with a little crochet inspired rating system. Details at the bottom of the blog.**

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Lace in the Park

I've been very careful to work on the lace project where I was certain I wasn't going to lose needles, or lose concentration. I'd pretty much only worked on it in the study very early on Saturday mornings for an hour or so. After that I started making too many mistakes. The project wasn't progressing.

The lace has its own work bag,and its usually buried under other yarns. The new shelves mean there is more organization to the stash. So it was right handy when I was looking for something to take to work with me.

It was lovely weather here, so I went down to the park to work on it, and I found lace is the perfect park project. Can't lose needles, the grass isn't long. There are very few people around so concentration is not a problem, and since I can only work on the lace for a short time before I start making serious errors, it was the perfect timekeeper project. I had a little problem working on simple socks in the park. I had a tendency to stay out for longer than an hour.

I wish I could get good pictures of this work, but it's not possible without pins.

Park tables are pin resistant. My lovely lace is just a pile of fuzz. It actually struck me, that its exactly the right length for a Barbie skirt and it has just the right sort of drape. It would be a criminal wast though to use it just for a toy.

I will console myself by showing you my little trick. I've used the doubled over elastic to make an end on these small dpns since I started the project, and all along I have worried about stitches slipping off. It finally occurred to me yesterday that all I had to do was go back through the elastic.

Some days I'm just a little slower than others. Its amazing I can make it through the day.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

I had a long weekend and what did I do?

A whole lot of nothing. Well sort of.

I picked up some shelves from Ikea for my study Saturday morning, and took my tall son2 to lunch. Hot dogs, a drink and chips at Ikea are only 2 bucks! Cheap date. I then built the shelves, and moved them into the study. As anyone knows building the shelving is the easy part. Populating the shelving is the hard part.

One of my goals was to have a safe place for the cheapie blue and white china collection. My cheapie blue and white china collection was begun by my mother giving me the tea set on the top shelves.

Over the years I sort of refined my criteria to only blue and white, and nothing that cost more than $20. This meant I had to wait 3 years for one tea set, the Chinese style one beside the boxes
but the average cost has been about $4. See? Cheap blue and white collection.

The other part of my concern is shown in the picture above. To the left of the knitting needles is a shelf with my knitting, crocheting and about half of my embroidery books. It was convenient to put things of top them. Acting as a shelf is not good for books, and I wanted to get them to a safer place.

Then there was the ever increasing problem of just too many books. The books you see here are just a small part of it. We have books on bookcases under the stairs, books on piles in my bedroom, books in drawers of coffee tables, books in the kitchen, books on and off the living room bookcases, books in bathrooms. Books were beginning to take over the decor and my husband who is not into books was starting to become aware of them. This would be a crime of the same magnitude as when he realized the extent of the linen stash (and no he has not seen the yarn stash yet). Clearly the books needed a home.

I spent the rest of Saturday just putting stuff on shelves, moving stuff around and deciding how I could get all of this stuff into this very tiny room. I am very pleased. This is the finished product. I just noticed something distressing. The shelf is pretty much full. There won't be room for the rest of my Tom Clancy collection, there is distressingly little room for more needlework books (the bottom 2 shelves), and the brown shelf? That was full before, and it is full again. I do have more space for blue and white china though.

My knitting and crocheting has been sort of slow. I did finish sock one of dad's black socks, and I finished my sister's. I wound several skeins into two balls for socks, I wound some lovely Red Bird Knits Romney Sock yarn , colourways cornflower, into a ball. I did everything to avoid starting another new project. I think I am going to have to give in. After all I would not want to end up with moths attacking that lovely Blue Moon yarn. Much better to keep the yarn moving, right?

There still was significant knitting learning happening. I tried my hand at some old lace patterns from The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery, and made a discovery. Knitted lace is not hard at all. Just like crochet, it's all repeats, and all you have to do is learn the rows, and away you go. I thought that when I was working on big yellow acrylic yarn. I tried some on the Romney Sock yarn, and it was a whole other disaster. I had to go back and practise combined knitting decreases in both directions. Annie Modesitt, I sure hope you do make it to Edmonton soon.

My biggest accomplishment this weekend was that I told the guy who has been my swift that I needed a real swift. He thought it was a good idea. My dear Mr. Needles was looking crooked at me as I wound the ball I had just wound to one ball into two (for socks) so I told him that I really could use a ball winder for Christmas.

So though my weekend was entirely devoted to needlework, I feel sort of smutty, as if I had turned my back on my work. The only way to rid myself of this feeling, is to knit more, crochet more.

Does anyone know a good laundry service?

Friday, 3 August 2007

Friday on a long weekend and

I feeling a little restless. I wish that project Mr Needles is doing on the house would be done, but there is no equipment free. Its all out on jobs. without the rest of the concrete, we can't do the wall - we were going to recycle the broken concrete into a rubble wall- and without the wall being done, I can begin to work on getting the flower beds redone. So, all my best laid long weekend plans are out.

I finished up sock one for dad, though I think the foot might be a little short so I'm going back to it tonite, and am going to work another half inch or so before I do the toe. I worked on my sister's socks, and made very very good progress. I'm onto the calf on those and I really hope to make it to the ribbing before the end of the day.

I dug through the stash and don't know what to start next. In that whole pile of pleasing yarn, I could find nothing pleasing at all. I pulled out some of the Meillenweit , and some yellow yarn for socks, but I'm not sure I really want to start on those.

To be 100% truthful, what I really want to do is start on the vest project. I really want to see these marvelous colours grow into something. My hands reach for it just to touch it, my eyes go to it each time I enter the study.

This is not a really great picture of it. The teals, and turquoises are really much richer, much more vibrant than in this photo, and the pumpkin and mustard colours less vibrant.

I'm certain that I could start there if I wanted to, but I really want to get the lace project done before I start on any other big time commitments. I'm going to be good. I'm going to proceed logically and deliver the gift so long promised first. Its not like I can't resist the pull of the new before I fully appreciate the wonderful lace. I'm going to only think of lace.

Lace, lace, lace.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Adventures in yarn buying.

Yesterday began with a full yarn budget. By the end of the day, there was no yarn budget left. I will have to be very, very good this month, and stay far away from stores of any kind.

I spoke of vests in a new book last week. I picked up some Blue Moon yarn, I think its this one , a wonderfully rich teal colour, and pumpkin, in the medium weight Socks That Rock. Its sort of a shame that I have forgotten the name, I will admit to being mystified that I did not take a picture of it last night. But its lovely and I am looking forward to working with it, to wearing a vest out of that splendid yarn.

I looked at the Noro Silk Garden for the other vest, and at a possible alternate, the Kureyon, but the cost of both of those was quite a bit higher. These delicious things will have to wait till I have been good for 2 months.

I also picked up some teeny tiny needles. My smallest set to date was the set I am using for the lace project, shown here (I'm looking forward to much work on these this weekend). They are a 1.75 mm, and make the most delicate knitting I could imagine till now.

Yesterday I found a set of 1.5 mm needles, steel. I sort of stood there amazed at their delicacy. Then I noticed off in the corner, something smaller.

1.25 mm needles, steel, with points so dainty that they could be used for sewing. They are finer than my tatting needle. I have no idea what I would ever knit with them, but it would surely be fit for the gods. I only knew I had to have them. It took about 5 minutes to get them out of the package and into the needle case. I caught myself just rolling the 5 of them in my fingers, over and over again. They are so fine and smooth. I wish there was a way to send the feel of them over the Internet. Makes me sigh just thinking about it.

Dad's first sock is just about done, down to the toe, which won't even take all of lunch. Grafting to do, but I have several darning needles with me. And then I am going to finish the neat little socks out of the Confetti yarn - second sock down. I think I'm giving these to my sister. She, and she will know which sister she is, said she wouldn't mind a pair of socks, so they are hers. She will probably have more socks than she wants before I am through the sock phase (there is always the fearsome question, will the sock phase ever end?) . I really should have warned her.

To my friend, mostlylurking, I'm a real enabler aren't I? I do feel just a tiny bit guilty about that but I do recall something about who sent that link to whom. LOL The link took a hidden little crochet and needlework obsession, into a full out public obsession of the first order. Its doilies run amok, and its very very good for our souls. I never dreamed, not once, that this world existed online. In case you doubt it, I bless the sender of that link every day.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Hot August Nights

Wow August. I've always had a strong regard for August. August is when everything ripens, when you prepare for fall, when you bring in the crops, you close out the garden. August is canning and freezing and making jam . August is when you get all your new winter clothes and new shoes for school, and when the winter catalogues come out. Late August is a signal that life is going back to normal,back to routine, with everybody at their desks raring to go (for school children and office people alike). August is the month before September, and for all intents and purposes her in my part of Canada, the start of fall. I love fall most of all the seasons. Fall is crisp and sweaters and warmth to wear when your toes are chilly. In honour of August and night temperatures that went down to 10 C, I am wearing my new lace socks for the first time. I'll probably have to take them off midday, but hey, for now my toes are warm.

It was really early and I was wide awake and darn it there is nothing worse than just lying in bed unable to sleep. Might as well get up to do something. I knitted my dads socks this morning. Mom told me he's always cold these days, so I am hoping a really good pair of warm washable wool socks is just what he needs. I also hope they fit. I didn't realize till now that I don't know what size my dads feet are. I have a suspicion that they are pretty close to Mr. Needles feet, but I think a bit smaller. So Mom, if you are reading today, please comment what size shoe dad wears. Once I have that, I'll know what to do.

I completed the heel flap on his socks,did the heel turn, and am just past the gusset since I got up this morning. The heel flap turned out beautifully doing exactly what it was supposed to do in the order it was supposed to do it, and no messing around. The picked up stitches were perfectly matched. It was an amazing piece of work, and I think I will continue to be stunned by sock heels of all kinds to the day I die.

I also managed to put together some boxes I bought to store some yarn under my study bench, and I read one of the 2 new booklets that I picked up yesterday at Micheal's. Oh forgot to mention that.

On the way home from work I went to Micheal's, but I didn't buy any yarn. A couple books, the pamphlets, and a few knick knacks, knitting and crocheting tools, but no yarn. I did savour yarn. I touched and felt for quite a while on the vast stores of Paton's Classic Merino . They had a wonderful colour selection.... OK I will admit that it was only possible to leave that yarn behind because I already have plans for this months wool money, and since they involve some Noro, or some Blue Moon yarn, I did manage that feat.

The booklet I mentioned is one I have been looking for, for a long time. I considered buying it online, but just never got around to it. This is money well spent. The booklet is Plus Sized Sweaters to Crochet from Leisure Arts. 6 patterns and in my head thousands of possibilities. I've already decided to use yarn from the ill fated knitted vest (I got bored) for one of the basic sweaters in this book.

So here we are, projects piling up, ready to go, a bunch on the needles and some embroidery in the wings. I love August, simply love August.